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RE: New York Attorney General holds ADA applies to Web Businesses.

From: Jim Tobias <tobias@inclusive.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 19:56:13 -0400
Message-Id: <200408202356.i7KNu5be026115@cedant4.abac.com>
To: "'W3c-Wai-Ig'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "'Webaim-Forum-D'" <webaim-forum-d@list.webaim.org>

I'm not a lawyer, so if there is one out there, please chime in....

How can a state attorney general say anything definitive about a federal
law?  The article said he "opined".  It also mentions a NY law similar to
ADA.  It also seems to indicate that this action resulted not from a lawsuit
but from an investigation performed by the AG's office.

All details will be hungrily consumed.

Jim Tobias
Inclusive Technologies
732.441.0831 v/tty

> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jim Thatcher
> Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 11:54 AM
> To: 'W3c-Wai-Ig'; 'Webaim-Forum-D'
> Subject: New York Attorney General holds ADA applies to Web 
> Businesses.
> Here is the press release:
> http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2004/aug/aug19a_04.html. 
> Jim
> Accessibility Consulting: http://jimthatcher.com/
> 512-306-0931
> --- Text of press release ---
> Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced settlements 
> with two major
> travel web sites that will make the sites far more accessible 
> to blind and
> visually impaired users. 
> The web sites, Ramada.com and Priceline.com, have agreed to 
> implement a
> variety of accessibility standards that will permit users of assistive
> technology, such as screen reader software, to more easily 
> navigate these
> web sites.
> "Accessible web sites are the wave of the future and the 
> right thing to do.
> We applaud these companies for taking responsible and proper 
> steps to make
> their web sites accessible to the blind and visually 
> impaired," Spitzer
> said. "We urge all companies who have not done so to follow 
> their lead."
> The Attorney General opined that the Americans With Disabilities Act
> requires that private web sites be accessible to blind and 
> visually impaired
> Internet users. The ADA generally dictates that all "places of public
> accommodation" and all "goods, services, facilities, 
> privileges, advantages,
> or accommodations" of places of public accommodation, must be made
> accessible to disabled citizens, absent undue hardship. New York law
> provides similar civil rights protections.
> Many blind and visually impaired individuals use assistive 
> technology, such
> as "screen reader software," to operate computers and surf 
> the Internet.
> Screen reader software converts text into speech and reads pages upon
> display -- usually from top to bottom and left to right, as 
> if reading a
> book. To be accessible to the blind and visually impaired, a 
> web site must
> utilize a computer code that is comprehensible to screen 
> reader software. 
> During investigations conducted in 2003 and earlier this 
> year, the Attorney
> General found that portions of the Ramada.com and 
> Priceline.com web sites
> were not accessible to this type of assistive technology. 
> Under the terms of
> the agreements, the companies will implement a range of accessibility
> standards authored by the Web Accessibility Initiative 
> ("WAI") of the World
> Wide Web Consortium ("W3C"), an organization that recommends Internet
> standards. For instance, graphics and images must have comprehensible
> labels, tables must have appropriately placed row and column 
> headers, and
> edit fields (boxes where the Internet user inputs 
> information) which must be
> labeled to indicate which information is requested. The 
> companies must also
> implement a wide variety of other initiatives, based on 
> guidelines authored
> by the W3C. 
> Advocates for the visually impaired applauded the settlements. 
> "By implementing design standards that allow screen reader 
> software and
> other assistive technology to function effectively with 
> interactive web
> sites, companies will make tremendous strides in closing the 'digital
> divide' for visually impaired users," said Carl Augusto, 
> president and CEO
> of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). "As the 
> Internet continues
> to become an increasingly important tool for business, 
> commerce, and leisure
> activities, it is imperative that all companies ensure their 
> web sites are
> accessible for all users - including people who are blind or have low
> vision."
> The Attorney General also extended his thanks to the American 
> Foundation for
> the Blind, for its invaluable assistance, as well as to the 
> Baruch College
> Computer Center for Visually Impaired People.
> In addition to the steps outline above, Ramada.com and 
> Priceline.com will
> pay the State of New York $40,000 and $37,500, respectively, 
> as costs of the
> investigation. The Attorney General emphasized that once the 
> companies were
> notified of the accessibility issues by his office, they worked
> cooperatively and creatively with his Internet Bureau to 
> correct the issues.
> Both cases were handled by Assistant Attorney General 
> Elizabeth Nieliwocki
> of the Attorney General's Internet Bureau, under the 
> direction of Kenneth
> Dreifach, Chief of that bureau, with assistance from the Civil Rights
> Bureau.
Received on Friday, 20 August 2004 23:56:27 UTC

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