"At 12:04:03, every screen in the building strobed for eighteen seconds in a frequency that produced seizures in a susceptible segment of Sense/Net employees."
I think you've got the wrong novel.
In Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron", everyone was required to be "equal" in all ways. People who were smarter than average were required to wear headphones with distracting noises, people who were stronger or faster than average were required to wear extra weights or confining clothing, and so on.
We've just had a case where a couple of deaf people got 20,000 videos taken offline because the videos were not closed captioned for the deaf.
Now we've got a legal precedent which means that no one will be able to send a specially crafted image because it hurt a special-needs person.
Once this legal precedent is extended, can it be extended to other areas of harm? Would the same legal theory apply if:
1) The text content triggers someone into vividly reliving a past assault or rape?
2) The video of a war encounter triggers someone's PTSD?
3) The sudden audio content startles someone into spilling acetone or MEC or coffee in their lap?
4) Some religious person finds the imagery insulting to their religion?
I'm not against people with special needs, but this thing about "everyone must abide by the lowest denominator" is utter crap.
I once knew an epileptic who would get seizures by looking at a checkerboard floor pattern. I was throwing a party, had built some games in the basement, and she asked before coming what type of flooring was used in the games.
Must we to ban checkerboard patterns on the entire internet because of this one person?
Kurt Eichenwald is obviously a person with special needs, and that's fine, but he should deal with his special needs at his end, rather than forcing everyone to conform to his needs. His computer should be set to not flash animated gifs, to require a keypress to go to the next frame. He needs installed software that overlays a neutral diffuse background on online web pages and images.
The deaf people who wanted access to the online courses should also deal with their special needs at their end, by arranging to get captioning(*) for the courses they actually want to take, instead of making the university take down 20,000 course videos.
If this lawsuit has any merit, we're bound to see a serious erosion of the immense value we've built up in this internet thing.
Eventually we'll all be in the "Harrison Bergerac" world.
(*) And how they do that, by government assistance for the handicapped, or automated captioning, or perhaps by requiring the university do it in specific instances on request, is a separate issue. The point is that the changes happen at the special-needs endpoint, and not the entire rest of the internet.