Article from SFGate, by Bob Egelko | Jan. 9, 2017
Walmart has agreed to settle a disability-rights suit by installing equipment in its stores in California that will enable people in wheelchairs to read the screens at checkout display terminals and make credit card purchases on their own.
The proposed settlement in federal court in San Francisco is intended to make the point-of-sale machines at Walmart’s more than 200 stores in the state accessible to the more than 300,000 Californians who use wheelchairs or motorized scooters.
Full details have not been disclosed, but a person involved in the case said Monday that the company had agreed to install a device that would accommodate disabled customers.
Point-of-sale machines allow customers to use credit or debit cards to make purchases. The machines require customers to view the screens to check the transaction, enter their personal identification number or submit their signature, and approve the sale.
The suit, filed by disability-rights groups in July 2012, said the machines at many Walmart stores were positioned so high that disabled customers had to “stretch and strain” to see the screens, or simply were unable to view them from their wheelchairs.
“I can’t reach the payment device on my own, read the display screen, enter my PIN or sign the screen to complete the transaction,” one plaintiff, Janet Brown of Pittsburg, said in a statement released by her lawyers when the case was filed. “I have to share my private PIN with the cashier, which I hate to do.”
The disability groups said lower-mounted, adjustable terminals were readily available and were already being used by some Walmart stores and by many competitors. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund in Berkeley said it complained about the situation to Walmart in 2005 and requested settlement negotiations, but the company declined.
The lawsuit accused the world’s largest retailer of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Further details of the proposed settlement, including the timetable for installing the new equipment, may be released at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 20.
Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @egelko