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The details are important Re: FW: ADA Doesn't Cover Websites, according to Federal Court

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 11:10:07 +0300
To: "John M Slatin" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <opse0425u3w5l938@guest-24.danbri.org>

Odd story. The first paragraph is pretty sound:

> Acting largely on procedural grounds [[long URI]]
> <http://dw.com.com/redir?destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fcaselaw.findlaw.com%2Fdata2%2Fcircs%2F11th%2F0216163p.pdf&siteId=22&oId=2102-9588_22-5384087&ontId=9588&lop=nl_ex>  
> ...

Where the judge makes it clear that the appeal was not upheld because in  
the opinion of the court it was badly written to the point that it did not  
actually address the initial decision. In other words, there is nothing in  
the appeal decision that offers a confirmation of the District Court's  
decision itself.

> 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 Marcus  
> [[long URI]]
> <http://dw.com.com/redir?destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ca11.uscourts.gov%2Fabout%2Fjudges%2Fmarcus.php&siteId=22&oId=2102-9588_22-5384087&ontId=9588&lop=nl_ex>  
> .

Following precedents cited in the judegement, the judge says that this  
case doesn't meet the exceptional requirements to consider something new  
in the case, rather than addressing the judgement of the District Court on  
the case _as presented to it_.

> 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.

Hmm. That paragraph seems an odd interpretation of the case. If the appeal  
had been sufficiently well handled to provide a case that could be heard,  
the results might have been interesting. Assuming that the initial case  
was sufficiently well constructed to stand up.

To nit-pick a little, if the original case or the appeal had succeeded the  
result would be in line with a lot of legal opinion that the ADA does  
indeed apply to virtual businesses dating back to the 90's, ind with  
analagous interpretations in other jusridictions. In other words there  
would be no "nwe requirements" - it would be recognising that there are  
existing legal requirements to avoid discrimination, and those apply to  
the web as well as bricks-and-mortar. (Note that in the case of an airline  
there is a seperate act that may be relevant, as described in the appeal  

For people seeking to establish that the existing law applies to the Web,  
this is a setback, but it is neither confirmation nor rejection of the  
decision in the 11 District Court, and there are some grounds to believe  
that the judgement made there would not hold as precedent in a  
well-constructed future case. It is also possible that the ADA is amended  
to specifically apply to the Internet, in which case the judgement becomes  

Just some thoughts


On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 16:07:31 -0500, John M Slatin  
<john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

> 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).
> John
Charles McCathieNevile         charles@sidar.org
FundaciĆ³n Sidar             http://www.sidar.org
Received on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 09:11:17 UTC

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