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RE: ADA Doesn't Cover Websites, according to Federal Court

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 21:08:29 -0500
To: "'John M Slatin'" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <auto-000109500989@spamarrest.com>


That isn't what the ruling says really.  


But it is complicated.  


Recommend people read the actual ruling.  



 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 


From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of John M Slatin
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2004 4:08 PM
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: FW: ADA Doesn't Cover Websites, according to Federal Court


CNET news story about a new court ruling which says that the Americans with
Disabilities Act does not apply to the Internet because the Act does not
mention the Internet. I pass this on to WCAG because it's an important
ruling for those of us in the United States, and because the article
specifically mentions WCAG 2.0 at the end (as part of background
information, not with reference to the court ruling).






"Good design is accessible design." 
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web  <http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/>


-----Original Message-----
From: Aylward, Rayna [mailto:Rayna.Aylward@meus.mea.com] 
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2004 3:46 pm
To: 'MEAFLink'
Subject: ADA Doesn't Cover Websites, according to Federal Court

In a suit brought against Southwest Airlines, the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled that since the Internet is not mentioned in the Americans With
Disabilities Act public access provisions, websites are not subject to the
law.  (This ruling upholds a 2002 decision of a lower court. ) Of course, in
1991 when the ADA became law, the Internet was not the pervasive commercial,
educational. recreational and social platform that it is today.



Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web, court says
By Declan McCullagh <mailto:declan.mccullagh@cnet.com>  CNET News.com
September 27, 2004, 10:19 AM PT
URL: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588-5384087.html 

Web publishers are not required to comply with the Americans with
Disabilities Act, a federal appeals court has ruled. 

p=nl_ex>  largely on procedural grounds, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
on Friday upheld a lower
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-962761.html?tag=nl>  court's decision
from October 2002, which concluded that Web sites cannot be required to
comply with the 1991 disabilities law. An advocacy group for the blind had
sued Southwest Airlines, seeking a redesign of its Web site.

Still, the three-judge panel noted that a future case could provide a
vehicle for exploring the question in greater depth. "In declining to
evaluate the merits of this case, we are in no way unmindful that the legal
questions raised are significant," wrote Judge Stanley
x>  Marcus.

If the case had turned out differently, the outcome could have had
far-reaching effects by imposing broad new requirements on companies hoping
to do business online in states in the 11th Circuit, which includes Alabama,
Florida and Georgia. 

The ADA says that any "place of public accommodation" must be accessible to
people with disabilities, and the law lists 12 categories, including hotels,
restaurants, shopping centers, universities and bowling alleys. It does not
name the Internet. 

This lawsuit was filed by advocacy group Access
m&siteId=22&oId=2102-9588_22-5384087&ontId=9588&lop=nl_ex>  Now and a blind
man named Robert Gumson. They admitted that it was possible for the blind to
buy tickets on Southwest's site but argued that it was "extremely
difficult." Gumson, who said he had a screen reader with a voice synthesizer
on his computer, asked the judge to order Southwest to provide text that
could serve as an alternative to the graphics on its site and to redesign
the site's navigation bar to make it easier for him to understand. 

Since the time the lawsuit was filed, Southwest appears to have redesigned
its Web site to be easier to navigate for the blind. CNET News.com was able
to make reservations using the Lynx text-only browser without encountering
any compatibility or navigation problems. 

Courts have reached different conclusions about whether the ADA might apply
to the Web. The 7th Circuit suggested in 1999 that the ADA may apply to a
Web site or other facilities that exist only electronically. But the Access
Now v. Southwest case was the first to address the question directly.

At a February 2000 hearing, a board member of the National Federation of the
Blind asked
Congress to expand the ADA. "I urge this subcommittee to affirm the
importance of access to this new world we're entering and to differentiate
between the real-world needs of blind people and the hypothetical and
yet-unproved burden placed on small businesses being required to ensure
access," board member Gary Wunder said.

Last month, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group released
an updated
working draft of its extensive guidelines for online publishers. They
suggest, for instance, text tags on graphical elements and captions
accompanying a video clip in an online news story. 


Rayna Aylward 
Executive Director 
Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation 
1560 Wilson Blvd., #1150 
Arlington, VA  22209 
Tel:  703/276-8240 
Fax: 703/276-8260 

Changes for the Better... 
For Children and Youth with Disabilities 


Received on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 02:08:31 UTC

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