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Website Accessibility a Legal Issue? 218

geekwithsoul asks: "Target is being sued because its website is not usable by the sight-impaired. While this story from the San Francisco Chronicle is from February, I've seen surprising little coverage of it in either mainstream or tech-focused media. Is the threat of legal action the only really effective way to get companies to create accessible (and thus standard-compliant) websites?"
"From the article:
'Advocates for the blind said the lawsuit is a shot across the bow for retailers, newspapers and others who have Web sites the blind cannot use. They chose Target because of its popularity and because of a large number of complaints by blind patrons.'
Considering how much accessibility and standards support is available in modern web browsers (well, except for that one we all know), and a rising probability of legal exposure for sites not meeting these needs, is there really any excuse for online retailers and others to not make their websites accessible to all?"
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Website Accessibility a Legal Issue?

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  • In a world where executives are liable for actions that adversely affect the bottom line it certainly is required. Accesiblity for the blind likely costs more than it generates in revenue.
    • Re:DUH (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jafiwam ( 310805 )
      True, but where does it land when "accessability for the blind" also means "can be listed easily by search engines" is factored in?

      Accessablity is something that goes pretty close hand in hand with Googlebot, Guliver and all the other spiders out there being able to get around within the site. So it's a good idea to do the work as you get both blind users and a good indexing.

      There is too much fancy crap in a lot of web sites anyway. I don't visit target to see fancy HTML and flash. I visit to buy stuff.
    • You make it sound as though accessibility for the blind is a bad thing.

      Consider what websites or programs need to do in order to be usable by a blind person. First of all, they can't have clutter. They need to obey standards. (eg. W3C, for websites) They need to have a good, well-designed user interface, in general.

      Notice how all of those things have very positive results for regular users, too? Blind people probably see websites much as a regular user would see them through a text-only browser like lynx. I
    • From the outside, that does sound right, however, having had to learn how to put together websites that had to pass ADA (American Diabilities Act) and w3c-Level 1 compliance for accessibility I can really say that the basic steps for this kind of compliance actually make your web pages better organized, and easier to use for all.

      On the other hand, going down a path popular in the XHTML camp, where you put all your content in DIV tags organized in a logical sequence then use CSS to position everything (see h [zengarden.com]

      • Re:DUH (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bogtha ( 906264 )

        On the other hand, going down a path popular in the XHTML camp, where you put all your content in DIV tags organized in a logical sequence then use CSS to position everything (see http://www.zengarden.com/ [zengarden.com]), not only will you have a document that is parse-able by a screenreader but that same document is going to be indexed more thoroughly and faster by search engine robots.

        Actually, "putting all your content in <div> tags" (you mean elements, not tags) is only going to harm the accessibility of

        • Instead of <h1><font>, you should do <h1 class="foo"> and then use CSS to style h1s that are of class foo:

          .foo h1 {foo: bar; baz: bat;}


          Since you should probably only have one h1 anyway, you're probably safe with not even using a class.
          • Exactly. Most CSS gurus out there will encourage you to use as few divs and classes as possible, instead reformatting the tags themselves.

            Baiscally, I make my websites look as 1994 as possible without style sheets, then I go back and add the styles I need to make it look this way on screen, this way in print, and so on.
          • A couple of people seem to have misinterpreted me, I am in no way condoning <font> . In fact I wrote a user stylesheet to kill <font> completely [userstyles.org]. I'm pointing out that even <h1> coupled with <font> is better than using <div> elements everywhere.

            .foo h1 {foo: bar; baz: bat;}

            This doesn't style <h1> elements of class foo. It styles <h1> elements that have an ancestor of class foo. To do what you want, you need something like:

            h1.foo {foo: bar; baz:

    • by schon ( 31600 )
      Accesiblity for the blind likely costs more than it generates in revenue.

      The same could be said for wheelchair ramps and automatic doors. Does that make it OK for buildings to exclude them?
      • You and a number of others seem to have confused my statements. I simply said that the summary was correct and explained why. I never said that reality was a good thing.
    • Accesiblity for the blind likely costs more than it generates in revenue.

      Exactly. So I would ask geekwithoutsoul, who asked this:

      Is the threat of legal action the only really effective way to get companies to create accessible (and thus standard-compliant) websites?

      Does the law say anything about web sites?

      With text like "the complaint is based on the theory" in TFA, as opposed to text like "the complaint sites law X, section Y, paragraph Z", I think this is more a publicity stunt than an

    • I bet most lawyer's websites are not designed for the blind either...

      And by doing so, the blind are not able to access legal info/services at the same level as those with sight... Thus, they are being disadvantaged because the lawyer was negligent in hiring a good webmaster. It would be like a law office without a wheelchair ramp for the handicapped....
    • Target is a private entity, if they don't want to cater to blind people, blind people shouldn't shop there. It's that simple.
      If it were a government website, the I'd say it needs to be 508 compliant.

      If Target's shareholders say "Make our site 508 compliant" then Target has to listen, not the whinings from a group of blind people who really are just the puppet for the lawyer who has it out for anybody with money. It's the same lawyer that sues mom and pop stores for not having door wide enough for wheelcha
  • CAPTCHA is a biggie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:28PM (#14976174) Homepage Journal

    A major problem in the accessibility of the World Wide Web lately is CAPTCHA systems [pineight.com] that distinguish sighted humans on the one hand from bots and blind humans on the other. For instance, Slashdot itself uses a CAPTCHA. Has anybody had success in getting a Slashdot account created through the e-mail method specified in the Slashdot CAPTCHA's alt text?

    • CAPTCHA is a security measure and I know a blind guy going into computer science who thinks any blind person who doesn't have a friend who will get em past a CAPTCHA doesn't belong on said website.
    • I've seen sites that offer an mp3 CAPTCHA. Not a great solution but, I imagine that blind people will likely have sound support on their machine.
  • Unfortunately, yes, suing will often be the only way.

    Don't forget that too many websites are driven by marketoids whose world revolves around bullshit. Bullshit being the absence of substance, it is clear that those bullshitter will try to hide their absence of content behind smokescreens made out of Javascript and flash.

    And marketoids consider themselves artists, and there are no people more willing to shove useless crap down people's throats than artists.

    • A blind UC Berkeley student has filed a class-action lawsuit against Target Corp., saying the retailer is committing civil-rights violations because its Web site is inaccessible to those who cannot see.

      The lawsuit, ..., said the upscale discounter's on-line business, target.com, denies blind Californians equal access to goods and services available to those who can see.

      Exactly why is Target responsible for this students civil rights online?

      Until someone passes a law requiring businesses on the internet to

      • Suing a large company doesn't gain my sympathy.

        But it is a lot faster.

        Asking your Senator or Congressman means you have to get them to make a bill, introduce it, get it passed, etc. That is a long process. And that assumes that you can get them to do that over the corporations that don't want that bill passed (and will donate more money than you'll ever make).

        Filing a lawsuit gets you instant publicity, which can be parlayed into capital to use with your representative to get a bill passed. Either way, t

      • Who modded this up? There already is a law requiring (U.S.) businesses on the Internet to be ADA (with Disabilities Act) s/complaint/compliant/, it's called the *ADA.* Just because you stick and "e" or an "i" on the front of your business model doesn't mean you can just ignore laws that predate the web. Sometimes laws are passed or amended to clarify or define how they pertain or should be applied to new situations (as was done in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which only pertains to Federal IT), su
  • It's that simple. They are under no legal obligation to do so. If you read the article, this isn't specificly about Target, this group is trying to make some broader point and is using the legal system to do so and they picked Target because of it's popularity. There are better ways to go about this than a nusaince lawsuit.
    • I stand by my statement; the ADA does not apply to websites and videogames. Government agencies are different, as all of their services must be accessable, which makes it their responsibility only by proxy. There is absolutely nothing in the ADA about electronic access as it would apply here. I was involved in a battle over video game accessability, and the ADA does not cover electronic accessability in any way, shape, or form when it comes to things like this. For instance, someone who only has the use
  • by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:30PM (#14976190) Journal
    Sometimes, it's just not possible at all. My boss, for example, asks - rather, demands - that our organization's website be accessible to them in Dreamweaver. The problem is this: My pages are WAI A compliant and written in XHTML 1.0 Strict, XHTML 1.1, and CSS 2.1. The moment they hit "save" with Dreamweaver, it rewrites half the damn code in the page, changing indentations, switching out tags, and often changing things that weren't really any of its concern in the first place, adding CSS classes with names like "L1" instead of "bluebox" and inserting p tags everywhere. I'm left with a Microsoft-as-Borg kind of choice: assimilate and use Dreamweaver, or be defeated.

    I try to create standards compliant, accessible websites, but the boss is worried about any emergencies that might pop up and require their immediate attention. Without being able to pull away from programs that change the pages around and aren't really aware of standards, I may not be able to do it at all.

    (Side note: if anyone knows how to force the 'Reaver to leave my code alone, could you reply, please?)
    • Do you do CJK work? I don't see what advantage XHTML 1.1 has for you over XHTML 1.0 Strict unless you are using type ruby. In fact, you have to serve XHTML 1.1 as application/xml+xhtml, which IE can't parse, while with XHTML 1.0 Strict there's the blessed loophole that still permits text/html.
    • Dreamweaver does do some annoying stuff with your code, but not "the moment you hit save". I've been able to get around most of these issues in Dreamweaver MX 2004. What version are you using? Rather than go into specifics, I suggest you use the split code/design window and take note of exactly when Dreamweaver does its crap. Then, you can learn to avoid those traps or at least undo them when you run into them. While still annoying, Dreamweaver is much better than FrontPage when it comes to this crap.
    • by geekwithsoul ( 860466 ) <geekwithsoul.yahoo@com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:47PM (#14976345)

      I use Dreamweaver as well, and faced the same problem when I first started using it years ago. What you want to do is go into Edit > Preferences > Code Rewriting and deselect everything you don't want it to do. In addition, I also always turn off the auto close tag option under 'Code Hints' on the same dialog menu.

      Dreamweaver is actually very capable of turning out standards compliant and accessiblity friendly code, it just needs a little tweaking when dealing with less than clueful users. Macromedia [now Adobe] had been fairly responsive to the concerns of the standards community, specifically The Web Standards Project [webstandards.org] which had a task force focusing on just Dreamweaver and standards compliance.

    • I try to create standards compliant, accessible websites, but the boss is worried about any emergencies that might pop up and require their immediate attention.

      Dude, instead of backing down you should talk you boss about his concerns and - this is the important part - address them. You are being paid to do that. If he worries about emergencies that require him to change the company's website, I think it is your job to calm him down, provide alternatives, and fix shit.

    • Sounds to me like you should have a content management system, rather than expecting everyone to play web developer.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:30PM (#14976192) Homepage Journal
    Hate to say it, but all of this politically correct stuff gets into freedom of association problems:

    Considering how much accessibility and standards support is available in modern web browsers (well, except for that one we all know), and a rising probability of legal exposure for sites not meeting these needs, is there really any excuse for online retailers and others to not make their websites accessible to all?"

    How about "We reserve the right not to do business with those we choose not to do business with without explaination?" This is about a lot more than just website accessibility- it speaks to (but probably won't come up) the constitutionality of the ADA itself.
    • How about "We reserve the right not to do business with those we choose not to do business with without explaination?" This is about a lot more than just website accessibility- it speaks to (but probably won't come up) the constitutionality of the ADA itself.

      Target can still decide not to let this guy -- or, even, any blind person at all -- conduct business with them. Having to make allowances for a disability does not keep you from turning people away.

      • Target can still decide not to let this guy -- or, even, any blind person at all -- conduct business with them. Having to make allowances for a disability does not keep you from turning people away.

        That might have been true prior to 1988, but since then, Target is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1988 just like everyone else. If you can't write a website everybody can use, you might as well just rip out the wheelchair ramps, throw away automatic doors and lose the handicapped parking whi

        • Sheesh. Let me spell it out for you.

          Target MUST take all reasonable actions to accomodate persons with disabilities.

          They MAY, even with the ADA, turn away persons who happen to have disabilities without stating a reason why. So long as they can show that the mere cost of complaince was not the issue, they are free to randomly turn away anyone and everyone that they want.

          (I mean, provided that in doing so their managment fulfills their fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, that is.)
          • Target MUST take all reasonable actions to accomodate persons with disabilities.

            Sorry, but absolute XHTML 1.0 compliance IS reasonable action to accomodate persons with disabilities. This was very brutally easily avoidable on their part. Why must you defend stupidity and promote the destruction of established standards?

            I mean, provided that in doing so their managment fulfills their fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, that is.

            No. Complying to the letter of the law fulfills their fiduciary

            • Please note: I was countering a point (raised by Marxist Hakcer 42) that the ADA is not a violation of the Constitutional freedom to associate, as the law does not (AFAIK) require anything more than taking reasonable steps to accomodate the handicapped. Target has to build wheelchair ramps and make their website effecively accessable to the blind, but they don't have to actually let either folk in wheelchair or the blind actually enter or purchase anything.

              Sorry, but absolute XHTML 1.0 compliance IS reason
    • Hate to say it, but all of this politically correct stuff gets into freedom of association problems:

      I never expected to see the day when you and I agree on a social issue. Is it cold in here? What's that pig doing in the sky?

      • You must have missed my big argument with TomHudson where he actually reported me to Canadian authorities for hate speech. I wonder whatever happened to that complaint?
        • No kidding? Got a link? I've quietly seethed at some of the things you've said over the years, but it never would have occurred to me to try to censor you. If I really get tired of someone, I add them to my foes list which automatically mods them down. That way, I don't have to listen to them but everyone else still can. Too bad Mr. Hudson didn't see fit to use his own personal volume control.
          • Here's his side of the story [slashdot.org], mine can be found in my journal in entries around the same date. It all stemmed from an off-the-cuff remark I made about not seeing homosexuals as being useful to a tribal society from an evolutionary standpoint (because they typically do not produce children) and therefore, in abscence of other ethical systems and religious mandates, I'd be for the government issuing hunting permits to remove them from the genome. This is apparently what passes for hate speech in Canada- off
            • Good grief. You do rub people the wrong way, but I suppose you knew that. It just floors me, though, that he'd actually file a government complaint over flames on a message board. Well, live and learn, I guess.
              • It floored me enough to actually enable him to do it- since Slashdot's not a Canadian server, he needed me to forward the remarks to his Canadian mail server- I'm even kind of looking forward to them trying to sue me directly (since I run my own mail server). Since I don't really plan to EVER go to Canada again (except maybe by ocean, and even then I'd be visiting the villiage reservation of the Jowadaino in Northern British Columbia- about a day and a half's sail north of Vancouver) I don't expect his thr
            • This is apparently what passes for hate speech in Canada- off the cuff philosophical ramblings with no real force behind them whatsoever.

              No, that's what passes for hate speech in the US. Canada does maintain a right to free speech, which is why you're wondering what happened to the complaint instead of what happened to freedom of speech. The US, by contrast, does not: Hence Cindy Sheenan and that senator's wife being arrested and charged with disturbing the peace because they wore t-shirts the president

    • Fine, put it in your store window. Lets see how long you last.

      Rights got to be balanced. It is what makes real life so difficult. How do you balance the right of target to make its website the way they like it with some peoples rights to live a normal live despite a physical disability.

      My freedom to form a club of people I like is offset by the rights of other people to join clubs they wish. So whites only golf clubs are a no-no.

      It all depends what you consider more important. The freedom of people with

      • My freedom to form a club of people I like is offset by the rights of other people to join clubs they wish. So whites only golf clubs are a no-no.

        And yet you can't join the Knights of Columbus without being a Catholic, the Freemasons if you're an atheist, or Mensa without having a certain IQ. Clubs based on accidents of birth or upbringing aren't nearly as endangered as you think.

        It all depends what you consider more important. The freedom of people with bad eye sight or the freedom of website design

  • How do you really convert a website for the visually impared? every time a picture is replaced, then its gonna make the site 1000 words longer (conservative estimate). I always do my best to include proper tags and the like, but i don't see how, for example, a graphic design company could apprioriately convey a subtle use of colour in an alt tag? or even if it would have any value.

    And where does it end? do all bilboards have to be in braile?

    What about a site which contains questionable material? should wh
    • I pretty much doubt the blind would even care very much about the kind of pictures that speak a thousand words. I at least haven't seen lenghty and detailed descriptions of famous works of art in museums so blind people can enjoy them.

      So your image gallery of ehm nature shots is save. No need to describe each nudy shot in details in the alt attribute.

      However for most of the images on a normal site this does not apply. Take for instance images serving as navigation links. The oh so cool animatited letter l

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:33PM (#14976218) Homepage
    The best way to ensure accessibility is to simply use XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS. Too often these are seen as overly-complicated technologies, but how hard is it to close a tag once you open it, and why doesn't the ability to describe visual styling in one central location instead of thousands of files seem like a hassle instead of a blessing? Get O'Reilly's HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide [amazon.com] and just see how much sense the elegant order and semantic meaningfulness of XHTML makes over prior markup solutions. Once you have a site up in XHTML 1.0 Strict, just make sure it validates with the W3C validator [w3c.org], and chances are, it'll already comply with Section 508.
    • The best way to ensure accessibility is to simply use XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS.

      There's no accessibility benefit to using XHTML 1.0 Strict. Most people are better off with HTML 4.01 Strict until browser support for XHTML is better.

    • XHTML and CSS have nothing to do with accessibility. HTML specifies that IMG tags must have an ALT tag -- but that doesn't mean that it's an accurate replacement for the ALT tag -- lots of people used to use them for tooltips. There's nothing in the HTML specifications against having your site being a giant blinking image -- there are in 508.

      I recommend against using XHTML -- too many problems w/ Internet Explorer (and even Safari will render some things slightly off what you're used to, even when it's co
      • I recommend against using XHTML -- too many problems w/ Internet Explorer (and even Safari will render some things slightly off what you're used to, even when it's complaint XHTML)

        It's better to code to the standard than code to a single broken browser. XHTML degrades gracefully: IE users will still get to see it, though (by Microsoft's arbitrary decision) not as cleanly as they would if Microsoft took the time to read the writing on the wall (ie, published standards everyone (but them by their own arbit

        • It's better to code to the standard than code to a single broken browser.

          Don't be silly, you don't have to choose between XHTML and Internet Explorer-specific code. XHTML isn't "the standard", it's a set of specifications, and there are others to choose from. HTML 4.01 Strict or ISO-HTML are better supported than XHTML and just as much of a standard as any form of XHTML (ISO-HTML is actually a standard, HTML and XHTML are just specifications published by a vendor consortium).

          The grandparent wasn'

    • The best way to ensure accessibility is to simply use XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS.

      Given IE's inability to display documents sent as application/xhtml+xml, what is the advantage of XHTML [slashdot.org] 1.0 over HTML 4.01? And given the mistaken deprecation of the value attribute of the li element in HTML 4.01 (and the subsequent removal from Strict), what is the advantage of Strict over Transitional if you abstain from all deprecated elements and attributes with the exception of li value?

      make sure it validates with the

  • by Orrin Bloquy ( 898571 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:34PM (#14976231) Journal
    UK and Australia have a much smaller sense of humor about non-accessible websites. Here, the only organizations with a legal obligation are state and federal ones (I know, I design websites for one).

    To stay accessible, you need to ditch table-based HTML filled with JavaScript widgets and unnecessary Flash navigation. Consequently you need to explore CSS, and guess what hamstrings adoption of CSS's more advanced features?

    The other issue is the crap-awful screen reader market. JAWS ignores code designed to separate out screen readers from visual browsers, Apple's technology works only with Safari, and none of these companies have been sued for not doing their job either.
  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:38PM (#14976267)

    Unfortunately, there's a lot of ignorance to fight. The average PHB assumes that creating a website that the blind can use is an arduous task, but this is not the case. If you build your website correctly the first time around, you essentially get accessibility for free.

    If, on the other hand, your website was built by the average clueless Dreamweaver jockey, then you'll probably have to spend money retrofitting your website. But that's the clueless web developer's fault for doing it wrong in the first place. Sadly, it's in their best interests to tell the PHBs how hard it is, and the PHB's aren't qualified to know when they are being told a pack of lies.

    It's only in unusual circumstances that accessibility is difficult when you include it as a requirement from the start of the project. However, typical managers go on what they've been told, and what they are told leads them to avoid accessibility unless they really need to address it. Lawsuits are a good way of getting them to address it.

    Is the threat of legal action the only really effective way to get companies to create accessible (and thus standard-compliant) websites?"

    Don't assume that accessibility and standards-compliance are the same thing. They are not. You can create accessible sites that don't conform to the specifications, and you can create inaccessible sites that do conform to the standards.

    It's also worth pointing out that avoiding being sued isn't the sole reason to make your website accessible. It can often improve various semi-related features of your website, such as search engine rankings and usability. According to PAS 78, the accessibility guidelines published by the UK's Disability Rights Commission, Tesco and Legal & General got great returns on their investments into accessible websites.

    There's more information about that last bit on Bruce Lawson's weblog [brucelawson.co.uk]. Highlight:

    After a program of re-design using third party testers, they reduced their risk of legal action and found, as side-effects:

    • A 30% increase in natural search-engine traffic
    • "significant improvement" in Google rankings "for all target keywords"
    • 75% reduction in time for page to load
    • Browser-compatibility (not a single complaint since)
    • Accessible to mobile devices
    • Time to manage content "reduced from average of five days to 0.5 days per job"
    • Savings of £200K annually on site maintenance
    • 95% increase in visitors getting a life insurance quote
    • 90% increase in Life insurance sales online
    • 100% return on investment in less than 12 months.
  • Next up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) *
    Smithsonian sued because they won't let blind people touch the paintings.
  • Does this mean that Dmitri Sklyarov [wikipedia.org] did a favour for adobe? [eff.org]
  • Ok, what kind of technology is out there for the visually-impaired to browse the web? I'm from a very rural southern town, and I've never heard of such a thing. What can Target do to remedy this?
  • Why are they suing Target (other than the fact that Target has the cash)? Shouldn't they be suing the screen reader companies who make such poor products that they are unable to do a passable job on complex websites? This seems like a problem that could very easily be solved by one perfect piece of screen reading software. I guess the issue is always money....if there was a huge market for screen readers, i'm sure IBM would have big R&D dollars pushing the technology. But as it is, crap readers suprisi
    • Now you want to sue people because they write software that doesn't work as well as you'd like? I can't wait for the rush of lawsuits against sourceforge projects...
      • Heresy! Sourceforge projects are perfect!
      • Now you want to sue people because they write software that doesn't work as well as you'd like?

        Yeah. Courts generally expect that you get what you pay for. Commercial products should perform better than the free alternatives they compete against. If they can't, they shouldn't charge. At best, it's false advertising to charge money for a product that is obviously inferior to the free competition. Examples off the top of my head (and by no means complete): Trillian Pro as a Jabber client (woefully inco

    • This seems like a problem that could very easily be solved by one perfect piece of screen reading software.

      The biggest problem is the classical case of Garbage In - Garbage Out. The vast majority of pages out there on the web have no logical structure, no text equivalent content to non-text content - there's no way a piece of technology can do that without an advanced form of AI.

      This isn't a problem browser and assistive technology vendors can solve on their own. This isn't a problem web developers can

  • Sue sue sue (Score:2, Insightful)

    For those of us that use alternative browsers (because IE don't run natively on Linux, of course), can we sue companies whose sites dont show properly or are unusable in them?
  • In Ontario (Canada), it's legally required that web sites for government agencies, and government funded organizations follow the W3C's Accessibility Guidelines [w3.org] according to the Ontarians with Disibilities Act [cou.on.ca]. If you're making a website for anyone in Ontario who gets funded in whole or in part by the government, and you don't follow those guidelines, you can face massive fines.
  • by ivi ( 126837 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:55PM (#14976911)
    ...then we can surely do what it takes to make them work for people,
    who happen to need a bit of accommodation.

    As suggested in a recent /. article, developers just need to start
    communicating with Folks with Disabilities (FWD's, a.k.a. PWD's)

    It's just that easy. And... from experience... I can tell you:

    It can really make you appreciate what you take for granted, ie,
    finding out how life can be without sight or the ability to walk.

    Mind-expanding... a bit like emerging from one of those "gotta
    crawl on your belly" caves, on a spelunking trip...

    Both are better than drugs, I'd suggest...
  • I had a friend... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alex_guy_CA ( 748887 ) <alex@@@schoenfeldt...com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:56PM (#14976919) Homepage
    I roommate of mine a few years back was working for a major bureaucracy in the public transportation sector (please forgive my being coy. Normally I'd just blurt out the name, but in this case it's not my story.) She built a web page highlighting the specific work she was doing that was part of the larger corporate website. On her own initiative, she made her site compliant to the standards that blind computer users needed. Instead of being thanked for her efforts, she was ordered by her superiors to take down her page. They feared that her compliance would highlight the non-accessibility of the rest of the web site of the organization, and they were covering their asses.
    • she made her site compliant to the standards that blind computer users needed. Instead of being thanked for her efforts, she was ordered by her superiors to take down her page. They feared that her compliance would highlight the non-accessibility of the rest of the web site of the organization

      The penalties for crimes are different depending on whether the crime was committed knowingly or not.

      Therefore, your friend's website, while being done in best intentions brought into focus the fact that the rest of th
  • by jonathan_lampe ( 943581 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:19PM (#14978079)
    In the United States, ADA website compliance means Section 508.

    See:
    http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/ [access-board.gov]

    How do I know? Before the U.S. Post Office looked at our web-based secure file transfer and messaging product (MOVEit DMZ), they required us to pass this requirement.

    You can see a short version of our "yes, we comply" statement online here:
    https://support.standardnetworks.com/moveit/doc/en /moveitdmz_generalinformation_federalregs_ada.htm [standardnetworks.com]

    Among the interesting bits: to meet full compliance we added an option that allows our administrators to add a "skip repetative navigation" link to the top of the page; this specifically allows audio readers to skip directly to the unique content on the page.
    • Among the interesting bits: to meet full compliance we added an option that allows our administrators to add a "skip repetative navigation" link to the top of the page; this specifically allows audio readers to skip directly to the unique content on the page.

      Man, I wish IMDB had a "skip repetative navigation" link! I have a Treo 600 and Sprint's slow-ass Vision service and the only reason I finally got a cell was to look up movie information. IMDB, and most web sites, are painfully slow and force me to g

  • Any private organization should be able to whatever they want, or not do whatever they want, as far as accessibility to customers go. As for government, they have to be accessible to all and by all.
  • I refuse to justify this absurd behavior with an actual response beyond, "Get a fucking life you sue-happy son of a bitch."
  • I wonder how this case is going to deal with existing ruling by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz in the 2002 case Access Now and Robert Gumson v. Southwest Airlines Co. [uscourts.gov] (pdf) stating that Southwest did not have to redesign its website to be more accessible to the blind [com.com].

    The 11 Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in 2004 [com.com].

    I have to say that I'm very much against these rulings. Making websites accessible to the blind is trivial if the website is designed properly in the first place. It's only difficult

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison

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