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Re: Internet Week: The ADA Stalks The Internet: Is Your Web Page Illegal?

From: Marti <marti47@MEDIAONE.NET>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 13:47:14 -0500
Message-ID: <003601bf8540$e47c0f40$ea50da18@ne.mediaone.net>
To: "Brockbank, Leslie" <LBrockbank@uta.cog.ut.us>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I popped off a short and kind of rude note (I was mad). Internet week just
asked me for permission to print it ....be careful what you write!

> Has anyone responded to this person or the firm he works for, or Internet
> Week?  I am so very offended by this article I don't even know what to
> Leslie Brockbank
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kelly Ford [mailto:kford@teleport.com]
> Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2000 3:03 PM
> To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: Internet Week: The ADA Stalks The Internet: Is Your Web Page
> Illegal?
> Hi All,
> To move forward I suppose you must know those who seek to hold you back.
> certainly wasn't aware that the ADA was an act of charity.  And while I
> don't believe that being blind makes me a "victim" as this author asserts,
> he is correct that I have no problem demanding my rights.  My tax dollars
> which support the government are not any different from his and I'm
> certainly going to demand that when the government makes purchases it
> considers accessibility.
> From the web page:
> http://www.internetwk.com/columns00/frezz022800.htm
> Plugging In
> The ADA Stalks The Internet: Is Your Web Page Illegal?
> February 28, 2000
> One of the most fascinating characteristics of democracy's quest for
> "equality" is the process by which a genuine desire to help the
> metastasizes into a regulatory cancer. Few examples
> serve better than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an act of
> charity that has become a swelling tithe, enriching class-action lawyers
> quick to feast on vague legislation promoting poster-child plaintiffs.
> Don't look now, but the ADA industry has its sites on the Web. In a few
> years, if regulatory history is repeated, any Web site that doesn't
> government-sanctioned equal access for the handicapped could be declared
> illegal.
> Originally intended to promote commonsense accommodations like wheelchair
> ramps for new public buildings, the ADA will be applied to make Web pages
> "equally accessible" by the blind, the blind-deaf and the cognitively
> disabled.
> This is both a noble goal and a fascinating technical challenge. Great
> strides have already been made, enriching the lives of many people
> previously living on the fringes of society. In a free country, resources
> would continue to be applied to these challenges in proportion to both the
> attractiveness of the market and the spirit that motivates acts of
> Celebrities would draw attention to the plight of the unfortunate, and
> works would be rewarded with public acclaim. Practical objectives would be
> pursued, leading to incremental advances that would be accepted with
> gratitude by thankful recipients.
> But who lives in a free country? According to Section 508 of the Workforce
> Investment Act of 1998, not us. Watch as a parade of empowered "victims"
> and their professional advocates begin discovering and demanding their
> rights.
> The first step will be to use the $26 billion-a-year procurement power of
> the federal government to strike fear into the hearts of IT vendors.
> Based on recommendations recently unveiled by the Architectural and
> Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (www.access-board.gov), vendors
> that don't conform to the board's ideas of how to make hardware and
> software usable by the handicapped won't be allowed to sell equipment or
> services to the federal government. This in itself is no great threat to
> liberty. Right now, no products meet the proposed regulations. Who cares
> the government grinds to a halt because its own mandates prevent it from
> upgrading its computers?
> But things will not stop there. It's only a matter of time before Yahoo,
> AOL and other fat targets get hit with class-action lawsuits claiming that
> their Web sites violate the ADA. These lawsuits will demand millions in
> damages and will generate reams of front-page media coverage as learned
> pundits cluck about the "visionless divide." The first lawsuits will fail,
> but each successive round will sharpen the next attack.
> Drawn to the TV cameras like flies to an open sore, congressmen will hold
> hearings at which cybercelebrities will speak about the need for
> government-industry cooperation as they quietly make campaign
> to members of the Judiciary Committee overseeing their commercial
> activities.
> Finally, an out-of-court settlement will be reached by exhausted
> tired of being featured on the cover of Newsweek as abusers of the
> handicapped. This settlement will initially apply only to the largest
> companies, which will be given several years to comply. But in time, the
> regulations will be extended to smaller Web site operators until no
> exceptions are permitted.
> A multibillion-dollar fund will be established to hand out grants to
> designated enterprises that would otherwise have a hard time achieving
> compliance. A cottage industry of professional facilitators will train
> Webmasters on how to get certificates of approval from the Access Board,
> whose funding will have to be vastly expanded to process the flood of
> annual renewals. Pirate Web sites flouting the regulations will be brought
> to justice by an expanded arm of the FBI's cybercrimes unit. Democrats and
> Republicans will fight over who can increase the cybercrimes unit's budget
> faster. Congress will, of course, be exempt from all of these regulations
> as it keeps busy dreaming up new ways to extend its influence into
> cyberspace.
> Or maybe none of this will happen. Maybe the distributed netizens of the
> Web will look up, yawn, and go about their business with complete
> to any pronouncements coming from Washington. One can only hope.
> Bill Frezza is a general partner at Adams Capital Management. He can be
> reached at frezza@alum.mit.edu or www.acm.com.
Received on Friday, 3 March 2000 13:48:44 UTC

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