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RE: New Media article

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 14:03:50 -0700
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, "'Nancy Massey'" <massey@masseynet.com>
Message-id: <3EC0FC2EAE6AD1118D5100AA00DCD88398F986@SJ_EXCHANGE>
I am posting below Judy Brewer's post of the USDOJ Policy Ruling as digested
by the National Disability Law Reporter.

This ruling along with other relevant legal analysis applicable to the
internet is also discussed in my recent article entitled "Applying the ADA
to the Internet:  A Web Accessibility Standard."  It was written for the
American Bar Association Conference next month "In Pursuit...A Blueprint for
Disability Law and Policy."  As soon as my article is posted on a website, I
will pass on the url.

Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City of San Jose, CA USA
For you U.S. folks, and others interested in policy issues related to Web
accessibility, here is an interesting opinion from the U.S. Department of
Justice.  The opinion was written a year ago and just published recently in
the (U.S.) National Disability Law Reporter, Volume 10 Issue 6.

- Judy Brewer

Posted in the National Disability Law Reporter, Vol. 10, Iss. 6, par. 240
September 11, 1997  1053-1084/97

The Honorable Tom Harkin
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-1502

Digest of Inquiry
(July 31, 1996)

To what extent does the ADA require that Internet web pages be accessible
to people with visual disabilities?

Digest of Response
(September 9, 1996)

ADA Accessibility Requirements Apply to Internet Web Pages

Entities to Title II or III of the ADA must provide effective communication
to individuals with disabilities, and covered entities that use the
Internet to provide information regarding their programs, goods or services
must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means.
Such entities may provide web page information in text format that is
accessible to screen reading devices that are used by people with visual
impairments, and they may also offer alternative accessible formats that
are identified in a screen-readable format on a web page.


Text of Inquiry

I have recently been contacted by one of my constituents who has a concern
over the administration's policy on making Web pages compatible for the
disabled.  I respectfully ask you to review the administration's policy on
this issue and send me a clarification so that I might be able to respond
to my constituent's questions.  It would be helpful if you could mark your
correspondence with my office to the attention of Laura Stuber.
Thank you in advance for your assistance on this matter.

Text of Response

I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, [],
regarding accessibility of "web pages" on the Internet to people with
visual disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires State and local
governments and places of public accommodation to furnish appropriate
auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effect communication
with individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would result in a
fundamental alteration to the program or service or in an undue burden.  28
C.F.R. Sec. 36.303; 28 C.F.R. Sec. 35.160.  Auxiliary aids include taped
texts, Brailled materials, large print materials, and other methods of
making visually delivered material available to people with visual
Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective
communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through
print media, audio media, or computerized media such as the Internet.
Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their
programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications
through accessible means as well.
Mr. [] suggests compatibility with the Lynx browser as a means of assuring
accessibility of the Internet.  Lynx is, however, only one of many
available options.  Other examples include providing the web page
information in text format, rather then exclusively in graphic format.
Such text is accessible to screen reading devices used by people with
visual impairments.  Instead of providing full accessibility through the
Internet directly, covered entities may also offer other alternate
accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, and/or audio materials,
to communicate the information contained in web pages to people with visual
impairments.  The availability of such materials should be noted in a text
(i.e., screen-readable) format on the web page, along with instructions for
obtaining the materials, so that people with disabilities using the
Internet will know how to obtain the accessible formats.

cc: Records, Chrono, Wodtach, McDowdeny, Hill, FOIA
sc. young-parran

The Internet is an excellent source of information and, of course, people
with disabilities should have access to it as effectively as people without
disabilities.  A number of web sites provide information about
accessibility of web pages, including information about new developments
and guidelines for development of accessible web pages.  Examples include:

Center for Information Technology Accommodation
General Services Administration
Trace Center, University of Wisconsin



These sites may be useful to you or your constituent in exploring the
accessibility options on the Internet.  In addition, the Department of
Justice has established an ADA home page to educate people about their
rights and responsibilities under the ADA and about the Department's
efforts to implement the ADA.  The address of the ADA home page is

I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent.

Deval L. Patrick
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

> ----------
> From: 	Nancy Massey
> Sent: 	Monday, June 1, 1998 12:51 PM
> To: 	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: 	New Media article
> I was reading the New Media article:
> <http://newmedia.com/newmedia/98/07/fastforward/Design_Pages_Disabilities.
> ht
> ml>
> and to quote:
> >
> However, an opinion written by the Justice Department states that the
> Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to sites for businesses
> covered by the act, although it has not yet been taken up in court. Also,
> sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act can be interpreted to mean
> that government-funded Web sites must be accessible. 
> >
> Has anyone seen this opinion letter or know where I can get a copy of it?
> thanks
> nancy
> ______________________________
> Nancy Massey
> <http://www.masseynet.com/>
> 215.545.8541 | voice
> 215.545.7726 | fax
Received on Monday, 1 June 1998 17:14:44 UTC

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