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Re: Computerworld Online - Does disabilities act apply to cyberspace?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 20:28:47 -0500 (EST)
To: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
cc: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0002092024320.13875-100000@tux.w3.org>
This article repeats a common myth that the use o colour will be restricted
by accesibility requirements. This is "more or less bunk", basedas far as I
can tell on a failure to understand a very simple sentence in a W3C
recommendation: "Do not use colour alone to convey information". Note the use
of the word "Alone" in that sentence. I am not sure where theideaof including
audio to accompnay text came from either - this seems like a possible, but in
many cases extremely inefficient solution. (Although I have seen it used on a
number of sites with no particular concern for accessibility, so I guess some
people think it is a reasonable thing to do).

Does anyone have a source contact to try and point out these basic (and
important) erros in this article?

Charles McCN

On Wed, 9 Feb 2000, Kathleen Anderson wrote:

  >From idg.net online - Computerworld - 
  you might also be able to use this link:
  Does disabilities act apply to cyberspace?
                 By Patrick Thibodeau
                 02/09/2000 WASHINGTON — A U.S. House of
                 Representatives committee heard conflicting arguments
                 today over whether the Americans with Disabilities Act
                 (ADA) applies to virtual space in much the same way it
                 now applies to physical spaces. 
                 The U.S. Department of Justice believes the ADA, a law
                 that prohibits discrimination against people with
                 disabilities, does apply to Web sites, and the federal
                 government is expected to issue accessibility
                 requirements directed at federal departments and
                 agencies by March. 
                 Federal Web site operators will have to make a number
                 of changes to comply with these regulations, such as
                 including streaming audio or audio files to accompany
                 text. The rules may also require captioning for video
                 and restrict the use of color to display information. Web
                 sites will also have to provide formats that are
                 compatible with braille- and speech-synthesis devices. 
                 Other provisions may ban touch screens and prohibit
                 moving text and animation unless there are no
                 U.S. Rep. Charles Canady (R-Fla.), chairman of the
                 House Judiciary Committee's Constitution
                 Subcommittee, said the federal effort "can help serve to
                 educate both the public and private sectors (about) how
                 greater handicapped accessibility of the Web can be
                 achieved with relatively low-cost solutions." 
                 But legal experts testifying before the committee were
                 divided on whether the ADA will apply to Web sites. 
                 The matter is already in court. Last fall, the National
                 Federation of the Blind filed a class-action lawsuit
                 against America Online Inc., charging that the
                 company's service violated the accessibility law (see
                 "What we need is achievable; what we are asking for is
                 reasonable," said Gary Wunder, a programmer/analyst
                 at the University of Missouri and a board member of the
                 National Federation of the Blind. 
                 Wunder described his own work-related efforts to use
                 software that isn't adapted to needs of the blind. For
                 instance, some key project-management software uses
                 color codes to identify critical projects, making it
                 difficult for him to use the software, he said. 
                 "I took a demotion from manager to programmer
                 because of this kind of software," he said. 
                 Judy Brewer, director of the Web Accessibility Initiative
                 at the World Wide Web Consortium, told the committee
                 that ADA compliance costs are negligible and that
                 "much of Web accessibility is a matter of good design." 
                 But Dennis Hayes, the creator of the Hayes modem and
                 now chairman of the U.S. Internet Industry Association,
                 urged the committee to focus on voluntary efforts
                 through standards bodies, rather than on regulation. 
                 "It will take years to work out in courts how the ADA
                 will apply," said Hayes. "In those same years, the
                 standards can proceed much more rapidly." 
                 Moreover, Hayes said webmasters lack the experience
                 and tools to create Web sites that meet the needs of
                 the disabled. 
                 The legal issues remain to be sorted out. 
                 Elizabeth Dorminey, an attorney at Wimberly, Lawson
                 Steckel Nelson & Schneider PC in Athens, Ga., said the
                 ADA applies to private entities that provide "public
                 accommodations" -- a term that doesn't include the
                 Internet, Internet service providers or private Web
  Kathleen Anderson
  State Comptroller's Office
  Hartford, Connecticut 06106
  voice: (860) 702-3355   fax: (860) 702-3634
  e-mail: kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us
  URL OSC: http://www.osc.state.ct.us
  URL ACCESS: http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access

Charles McCathieNevile    mailto:charles@w3.org    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative                      http://www.w3.org/WAI
21 Mitchell Street, Footscray, VIC 3011,  Australia 
Received on Wednesday, 9 February 2000 20:28:48 UTC

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