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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 19:56:51 -0400
Message-Id: <200408202356.i7KNuhba026439@cedant4.abac.com>
To: <jim@jimthatcher.com>, "'W3c-Wai-Ig'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Well, I replied.  I asked about the jurisdictional issues.  Surely a state
attorney general cannot "rule" on a federal law.  The article says he
"opines", and refers to a "New York law [that] provides similar civil rights
protections."  Can anyone enlighten us further?  Could the NY law and these
results of Spitzer's investigation be applied to all websites attempting to
do business with NY residents?

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: Friday, August 20, 2004 7:07 PM
> To: 'W3c-Wai-Ig'
> Subject: RE: New York Attorney General holds ADA applies to 
> Web Businesses.
> I was surprised to see no replies on this important 
> announcement. Basically
> the Attorney General of New York is holding that the ADA 
> applies to web
> sites as "places of public accommodations." This announcement 
> mentions two
> companies that have settled and agreed to comply. If you look 
> in detail, you
> will find that the agreement is pretty close to WCAG AA in 
> spite of the fact
> the news reports focus on use of the web sites by folks who are blind.
> There is new news now on CNN (through AP)
> http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/08/19/website.accessibility.ap/in
> dex.html. 
> Jim
> Accessibility Consulting: http://jimthatcher.com/
> 512-306-0931
> -----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 10:54 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 23:56:49 UTC

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