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Re: webwatch-l Washington Post editorial: Claims Against Common Sense

From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 07:04:46 +0400
Message-Id: <199811181104.GAA17300@gemini.smart.net>
To: <webwatch-l@smtp.teleport.com>
CC: <phichta@gateway.net>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Just a clarification -- I don't think the transit agency was sued, as this
term normally implies a lawsuit in court.  It is my understanding that an
administrative complaint was filed with the agency having ADA regulatory
authority in this area.  The first step in any such administrative process
is an investigation which seeks a voluntary resolution to the case.  In this
sense, the ADA is a way for covered entities to be asked to engage in a
resolution process that often would not occur by a simple communication from
the individual agrieved.


On 1998-11-17 webwatch-l@smtp.teleport.com said:
   NHello listers!
   NI, too, sympathize with Mr. Tamez's situation. Sudden blindness is
   Nenough to put anyone on edge.
   NHowever, his course of action, in my opinion, may have been a bit
   Nhasty. Without the complete picture, however, my opinion may also
   Nbe hasty. The concern I have is if he wins his case, how many other
   Nsites will be sued because their formatting isn't accessible? When
   NI encounter a site that isn't accessible, I write a detailed e-mail
   Nto the site's administrator in hopes he/she will respond and ask
   Nhow to make the site accessible. I've had a few sites respond so I
   Ndon't think suits are necessary. Granted, I've not seen any changes
   Nmade to those that I've advised, but I think a suit against every
   Ninaccessible site would take a lifetime and more to rectify.
   NIs there an amendment to the ADA that includes accessible material
   Non the Internet? Or, is it included in some other part of the law's
   Ntext? This information might glean some light onto why Mr. Tamez is
   Nsuing the Bay Transit Authority.
   NMr. Tamez, I wish you the best of luck, but be prepared for at
   Nleast a 3 year wait for your case to be brought up for a hearing.
   NConsider this when you're still locked out of this page's
   Ninformation. If, perhaps you try to work with the site
   Nadministrator to help him/her understand why the page isn't
   Naccessible rather than sue the organization, you might get a
   Nquicker result.
   NShelley Proulx
   NJamal Mazrui wrote:
   N> >From the web page
   N> http://www.washingtonpost.
   Ncom/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-11/16/010l-111698-idx.html >
   N> Claims Against Common Sense
   N> By William Raspberry
   N> Monday, November 16, 1998; Page A25
   N>  If I promise to go back to being my old sweet self tomorrow,
   N> would you let me get a little meanness off my chest today?
   N> Thanks.
   N> Randy Tamez: Get a grip.
   N> Tamez, left blind by treatment for a brain tumor a dozen years
   N> ago, has sued the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation
   N> Commission for violating his rights. The basis, according to the
   N> Associated Press: He can't access the system's Web site for bus
   N> and train schedules. That, in his view, is a violation of the
   N> Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
   N> It is, in my view, a clear violation of common sense.
   N> Of course I sympathize with Tamez's difficulties. Who wouldn't
   N> sympathize with a 36-year-old guy suddenly rendered unable to
   N> see anything beyond shapes, shadows and light? Blindness must be
   N> a terrible handicap, and I would applaud any genius who comes up
   N> with a device to make it less burdensome.
   N> But someone already has come up with something that works quite
   N> well for most of us: Web sites with lots of graphics, sound,
   N> video clips and such that make it possible to provide useful
   N> information in user-friendly ways (and also to facilitate the
   N> advertising that makes many Web sites worth providing in the
   N> first place). Apparently a return to a text-based system would
   N> make it easier for the visually impaired, though arguably less
   N> attractive for the rest of us. Is that a violation?
   N> I hope you don't think I'm just being nasty to Tamez. I've been
   N> waiting nearly a year for a chance to be nasty to the disabled
   N> folk who complained about Rick Fink's nice-guy gesture. Fink,
   N> divisional maintenance manager for the 97 Wendy's restaurants in
   N> Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina, decided that while
   N> the company was undertaking renovations to make the bathrooms
   N> and other facilities more accessible to wheelchair users, he'd
   N> go an accommodating step farther. He positioned two regular
   N> tables near the door and marked them with the stylized
   N> wheelchair symbol.
   N> You know what? Some representatives of disabled groups accused
   N> Fink of establishing a "disabled ghetto." "We want the
   N> opportunity to be there without the stigma or labeling," one of
   N> them said. Are those choice near-the-door parking spaces a
   N> "disabled ghetto" as well? Get a grip.
   N> Look, I think the ADA is a terrific idea. The wider doors,
   N> ramped entrances and roomy, handrailed toilet stalls must be a
   N> godsend for those who need them -- with no skin off the noses of
   N> those who don't. Similarly with wheelchair-accessible curbs and
   N> other modifications -- particularly in cases of new construction.
   N> I still remember a column by Charles Krauthammer praising the
   N> subtle ramping at Washington's Kennedy Center -- an
   N> architectural boon for wheelchair users and utterly unnoticed by
   N> others.
   N> What sparks my meanness is the insistence by some among the
   N> disabled that (1) their disability be accommodated and (2) that
   N> we take no notice of it. I mean, for instance, the people who
   N> insist on putting chair-lift devices on all public buses -- even
   N> when relatively few wheelchair users are among the riders and
   N> even though it can be significantly cheaper for local
   N> governments to furnish door-to-door transport by taxicab or limo
   N> than to retrofit all the buses.
   N> I mean the deaf guy who wanted to discuss some controversy with
   N> a colleague of mine, using one of those phone devices that
   N> involve speaking to an intermediary who then teletypes the
   N> message to the caller's phone screen, and then waits for a typed
   N> response that he reads to the callee. It can take awhile. My
   N> time-pressed colleague finally offered a deal: Put your comments
   N> in a letter, and I'll respond in detail by return mail.
   N> The guy was furious. He didn't have time to write letters, he
   N> said, clearly resenting the fact that other readers who wanted
   N> to talk to columnists didn't have to write letters.
   N> Get a grip.
   N> A part of my problem, I suppose, is that I am utterly unable to
   N> extract a useful principle from any of my resentments. Sometimes
   N> I'm happy for the accommodations our society is making for the
   N> "differently abled." Sometimes I think they ask too much or are
   N> ungrateful and whiny. And sometimes I think, with Krauthammer:
   N> Why, what a sensible, nonobtrusive, nonhumiliating solution.
   N> Shouldn't all our accommodations be like that?
   N> But, of course, they can't be. Sometimes the handicap means that
   N> you can't do things the way everybody else does them, that you
   N> have to accommodate to your own situation. By picking up the
   N> phone and calling the transit authority's information line, for
   N> instance.
   N> There, I feel so much better.
   N>           (c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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Received on Wednesday, 18 November 1998 06:05:01 UTC

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