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RE: Judgment in the SouthWest case.

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 11:46:26 -0400
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF445DEDEC.EDA8A05C-ON86256C5B.00504FB6@pok.ibm.com>

Jaz-Mixhael King wrote:
>accessible web sites are good business and good *for*
>business, but making it mandatory under US federal law
>is a ridiculous idea. if the US govt wants to make it
>mandatory under section 508 for govt. accessibility
>that's their concern, I for one would stand hard
>against making this a regulatory requirement for
>business. acceptable and accessible alternatives are
>all that's needed, and businesses that choose not to
>do so are losing money by not serving that section of
>the population, let that be their punishment.

Using that logic, it would unfairly seem that business (i.e. restaurants)
would be able to discriminate against individuals (i.e., blacks) and only
suffer the "punishment" of lost business.  I think the U.S. got past that
in the 1960's.  I don't believe anyone likes government telling them what
they have to do, but there also has to be a balance with individual rights
and civilized society.

Although in principle it make sense that the ADA applies to the web, I
think there are other issues, or at least questions that need to be
answered before the ADA can be legally applied to the Web. For example:
1. If the business provides a telephone service for the same discounted
on-line tickets, does that allow them to not meet the web accessibility
standard? Is it about meeting a standard or about accommodation or both?
2. If the business is only on the web, and the web site meets the standard,
but the individual doesn't have a computer, or doesn't have web access, or
the computer is not capable of accessing that site - then who's liable?
3. What's the definition of a "business" on the web?  Lemonade stands don't
fall under the ADA, would a free ware software site fall under the new
provisions?  What about a free concert or sports broadcast on the web?
4. Is it where the company is headquartered, or where the server is
located, or where the hosting company is? Where does the ADA jurisdiction
5. And which "web accessibility standard" applies? Is it 508 or WCAG
Priority 1 or WCAG 2.0, and which priorities?

It seems that all these civil rights discussions still end up pointing to
the fact that some technical standard is needed - so, back to researching
and develop ways to provide better access and standards.

Phill Jenkins
[my personal opinions]
Received on Wednesday, 23 October 2002 11:47:00 UTC

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