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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.i7KNu5bd026115@cedant4.abac.com>
To: "'W3c-Wai-Ig'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "'Webaim-Forum-D'" <webaim-forum-d@list.webaim.org>
Cc: "'Andy Imparato'" <imparatoa@aol.com>

BTW, venturing into the dangerous waters of partisan politics, here are the
relevant portions of both presidential campaigns regarding the ADA.  Neither
party mentions web accessibility specifically.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the most important civil rights law
for persons with disabilities. It is vital that we enforce the law and that
we fight recent judicial and legislative actions to weaken it. First of all,
I will nominate judges whom I believe will enforce and uphold our civil
rights laws to ensure the protections promised under its enactment. I will
work with Congress and the disability community to pass legislation that
restores civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities who have
been harmed by court decisions restricting the scope of the protected class
under ADA. I will also nominate an attorney general and an EEOC chair who
will make enforcement of the ADA a top priority.

It is the government's duty to enforce the laws that protect the rights of
Americans with disabilities and to invest in the projects that will further
expand their opportunities. In keeping with this philosophy, the Justice
Department is aggressively enforcing the ADA, which has been critical in
tearing down the barriers once faced by Americans with disabilities.... And
I will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice to ensure
full enforcement of the ADA. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has
resolved over 1,000 disability-related complaints, over 500 of those through

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 23:56:28 UTC

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