If you thought Fenty Beauty explored all options when it came to being an inclusive brand, think again. The company is being accused of “intentional discrimination” when it comes to the accessibility of their e-commerce website and the visually impaired community.
The lawsuit, filed by Beatrix Gutierrez in Los Angeles, California, states that the screen-reading technology, software that allows visually impaired people to access information on a website or computer by reading the text out loud, is not compatible with Fentybeauty.com.
According to FashionLaw.com, “The plaintiff argues that she and all other visually impaired individuals are being denied equal access to the online information and goods and services offered on the Fenty Beauty website because it is ‘not fully accessible to screen-reading technology used by blind individuals,’ and thus, subjects visually impaired customers of Fenty Beauty to a ‘second-class experience.’
I’ve worked with the blind community for eight years. Outside of writing, I hustle 9-5 as a Placement Services Coordinator for a not-for-profit organization that services people with vision impairments. Throughout my career, I’ve come across software, programs, and websites that are not compatible with various adaptive technologies.
As advanced as we are in the world of computer science, some websites just can’t handle the bandwidth of a screen reader. Sometimes the genetic makeup of a website and a screen reader do not mesh well together, making the site is inaccessible. This is common with programs used by doctors, accountants, some government websites, as well as retail brands e-commerce sites.
Is this the case with Fenty Beauty? Who knows. While its doubtful the brand intentionally excluded a community, with this lawsuit in the works, it’s likely appropriate adjustments will be made to ensure the brand, which has worked so hard to be inclusive doesn’t exclude certain segments of shoppers, like the visually impaired. Fenty became one of the first beauty brands to take inclusiveness seriously from the outset.
Not only have Rihanna and her luxury partner LVMH made products for every skin tone, they’ve been intentional about using models of all ethnicities, ages, and gender identities in campaigns. However, it looks like they’re still more work to be done.
PHOTO: PR Photos
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