Gisele Mesnage has launched a claim of unlawful discrimination against the Coles supermarket website. Ms Mesnage, who is blind, is seeking changes to the Coles supermarket shopping website to make it accessible for people who are blind or vision impaired. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) represents Ms Mesnage in this case.
Ms Mesnage relies on a screen-reader to use the internet and, like many vision-impaired people, she has had ongoing problems accessing the Coles website to do her shopping since 2008.
‘Online grocery shopping should allow people who are blind to do their supermarket shopping independently. It is very disappointing that a large supermarket chain like Coles has not made accessibility a high priority,’ said Michelle Cohen, PIAC Senior Solicitor.
‘It’s not acceptable for people in a wheelchair to be prevented from using a physical supermarket, so why should people with vision impairment be treated as second-class citizens?’
For Ms Mesnage, this legal action is a last resort, after years of negotiations with Coles failed to bring about a lasting solution.
‘I just want to shop online like everyone else. I’m sick of being shut out or spending literally days completing just one order,’ said Ms Mesnage.
‘Although Coles has tried to fix problems with the site over the years, the site is not consistently accessible. Each time the site is upgraded, accessibility issues recur, or new ones arise’.
Bentham IMF, Australia’s leading litigation funder, is backing Ms Mesnage’s case as part of its pro bono program. ‘Hopefully our assistance will help Ms Mesnage have her claim against Coles heard and successfully resolved,’ said Clive Bowman, Director.
‘Shopping online is supposed to be an easy and quick experience. But it’s not at Coles for people who cannot see their computer screen. I do not understand why Coles would not want to make online shopping easy and quick for all of their customers,’ said Graeme Innes, President of the Association of Blind Citizens of NSW.