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Disability rights advocates sue Walmart over payment machines


Disability rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., claiming the retail giant refuses to make payment machines accessible to customers who use wheelchairs and scooters.

The plaintiffs allege that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart knowingly placed point-of-sale terminals beyond the reach of disabled customers at many of its more than 200 stores in California -- in violation of state law and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lack of accessible payment devices makes it difficult or impossible for disabled customers to independently pay for goods with a credit or debit card, according to the lawsuit. Many must ask cashiers to read the charges, enter their personal identification number or PIN or sign on their behalf to authorize the transaction.

"Wal-Mart should be an industry leader, not a defender of discrimination," said plaintiff's attorney Bill Lann Lee. "Point-of-sale machines are the wave of the future in American retail. They should be accessible, convenient and secure to use for all customers."

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie could not comment on the lawsuit itself, but she said the company is committed to serving customers with disabilities.

"Our goal is that every point-of-sale machine be accessible within the regulations of the (Americans with Disabilities Act) and California law," she said.

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