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[Fwd: INTERNET WORLD NEWS, February 09, 2000]

From: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 21:19:00 -0500
Message-ID: <38A22014.B1FE7B40@po.state.ct.us>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Another news story - 

-------- Original Message --------
From: IWNews <IWNews@iwnews.iw.com>
Subject: INTERNET WORLD NEWS, February 09, 2000
To: KATHLEEN.ANDERSON@PO.STATE.CT.US

INTERNET WORLD NEWS
Wednesday, February 9, 2000
Vol. 2  Issue 27
http://www.internetworldnews.com

*Today's Headlines (scroll down for full story)

House Panel Weighs Making Web Sites Accessible to Disabled


	
House Panel Weighs Making Web Sites Accessible to Disabled

By Kathleen Murphy

A subcommittee of the House of Representatives heard
testimony Wednesday about whether commercial Web sites should 
have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA). 

By early March, the federal government is scheduled to issue 
handicapped-accessibility requirements that will apply to
federal Web sites beginning in August. The proposed rules
include provisions that streaming video be captioned, that
the use of color to convey information be restricted, and
that nonvisual formats compatible with Braille and
speech-synthesis devices be provided. Other provisions may
prohibit animation unless a static display is offered as
well. 

The Justice Department has stated that the ADA's
accessibility requirements already apply to private Web sites 
and services, and on Nov. 2, 1999, the National Federation
for the Blind filed a class action lawsuit against America
Online alleging that AOL violates the ADA. 

At issue overall is Title III of the ADA, which requires
that most businesses guarantee the disabled full and equal
enjoyment. But some have argued that forcing ISPs to comply
with the ADA violates free speech rights; they insist that
Web sites don't meet the ADA's physical-world definition of
"public accommodation." 

Peter Blanck, a University of Iowa law professor, told the
House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution
( http://www.house.gov/judiciary/2.htm ) Wednesday
that certain online retail stores may be legally subject to
compliance with the ADA, because they are covered under Title 
III's description of entities offering goods and services to
the public. 

Charles Cooper, a lawyer representing the National
Federation of the Blind ( http://www.nfb.org ),
told the subcommittee that free speech rights won't be
violated by applying the ADA to Web sites. "The values
that are central to the First Amendment are not implicated by 
a statute that in no way restricts -- and in fact, expands -- 
the dissemination of a speaker's freely chosen message," 
Cooper said. 

The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative 
( http://www.w3.org/WAI/ ) has offered Web
designers guidelines for supporting the needs of disabled
users. Dennis Hayes, chairman of the U.S. Internet Industry
Association, said, "The answer to the problem of
accessibility is not regulation, but rather education and
participation." Commercial sites may not realize the
buying power of the disabled, Hayes said. WeMedia.com
( http://www.wemedia.com ), a site dedicated to
people with disabilities, estimates that people with
disabilities account for over $1 trillion in purchasing power.
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Received on Wednesday, 9 February 2000 21:18:54 GMT

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