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AOL Case Settles

From: Waddell, Cynthia <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 11:32:30 -0700
Message-ID: <0A005268C8DED311A23E0008C75D1EFF4766F2@sj-exchange.ci.sj.ca.us>
To: "'W3C interest group'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Today I received the enclosed press release on the settlement of the
Americans with Disabilities lawsuit against AOL case concerning their
inaccessible browser and website.

Cynthia D. Waddell

NFB:  Curtis Chong 410-659-9314, ext. 349
						Daniel Goldstein, Esq.
						Joseph Davis, Esq.
						Stanton Communications
					AOL: Rich D'Amato 703-265-1746

AOL 6.0 To Work with Screen Reader Interface
Enabling Easier Navigation for the Blind

NFB withdraws lawsuit against America Online, Inc.

BALTIMORE, MD (7/26/00) --- On the 10th anniversary of the passage of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Federation of the Blind
(NFB) and America Online, Inc. (AOL) announced today that, working together,
they have made "real progress in achieving their mutual goal of making the
AOL service accessible to the blind."  NFB also announced that it has
withdrawn its complaint against the company.

NFB had filed suit against AOL late last year, charging that AOL's Internet
service is inaccessible to the blind, thereby violating the ADA.

According to the agreement announced today, AOL will continue its existing
efforts to ensure that the next version of AOL's software (AOL 6.0) is
compatible with screen reader assistive technology which makes it accessible
to blind users. AOL plans to release the new AOL 6.0 software this fall.

Today's agreement also specifies that AOL will undertake steps to assure
that the existing and future content of AOL-developed areas of the AOL
service will be largely accessible to the blind.  Under the Agreement, the
NFB retains the right to renew its claims after a period of one year.

NFB and AOL will work closely together to ensure continued progress on
accessibility. In addition, AOL has underscored this commitment to
accessibility by posting an accessibility policy on its Web site.

In announcing the agreement, NFB President Marc Maurer stated, "The
willingness of AOL to cooperate with us is a clear indication that this
company values equality of opportunity for all. Their reputation for
first-class interactive service is well known. Their (more)

 NFB Withdraws Suit/Page Two

plans to ensure quality of opportunity for the blind and other people with
disabilities, and their clear statement of an accessibility policy,
demonstrate a first-class regard for all communities that should help to
ensure that AOL remains accessible, even as its technology continues to
change and improve."

Barry Schuler, President, AOL Interactive Services Group, said: "We are
committed to meeting the specialized needs of AOL's increasingly diverse
membership.  Executing our existing plans for integrating screen reader and
other technologies for our disabled members is a part of that commitment. We
are pleased to have had the opportunity to detail our accessibility plans to
the NFB and appreciate the insight and support we received from them, and
other organizations, in crafting our new Accessibility Policy. We look
forward to continuing our dialogue with the disabled community, and with
anyone else who is dedicated to making this new medium accessible to all

NFB commended AOL for its progress toward enabling popular screen reader
software with the next version of its software so that the blind community
can take full advantage of the many features and functions that have made
the service so valuable and useful to its members.
NFB's lawsuit had charged that the AOL service "is incompatible with screen
access software programs for the blind." As a result, blind people did not
have access to the nation's largest Internet service provider and its nearly
22 million subscribers worldwide.
"We know that Internet service providers and Web site publishers were well
aware of this suit. We hope they will take note of, and be guided by, this
agreement and AOL's leadership on these issues," Dr. Maurer noted.

He continued, "Blind people have the same need for information that sighted
people have. We have enough talent and willingness to work. But we need
access and opportunity."

The National Federation of the Blind, headquartered in Baltimore, MD, is a
50,000-member organization of people with over 700 chapters nationwide.
Established in 1940, NFB is the voice of the nation's blind, bringing
together blind people from all professions and parts of the country. NFB
operates the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind,
which incorporates all access technology for new products that provide
information to the blind.
# # #

Cynthia D. Waddell   
ADA Coordinator
City Manager Department
City of San Jose, CA USA
801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, CA  95110-1704
(408)971-0134 TTY
(408)277-3885 FAX
Received on Wednesday, 26 July 2000 14:33:20 UTC

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