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Re: Legal requirements RE: statistics

From: Martin Sloan <martin.sloan@orange.net>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 15:44:22 GMT
To: kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com
Cc: martin.sloan@orange.net (Martin Sloan), kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com ('Kynn Bartlett'), harrry@email.com ('Harry Woodrow'), Denise_Wood@operamail.com ('Denise Wood'), w3c-wai-ig@w3.org ('w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'), charles@w3.org ('charles@w3.org')
Message-ID: <1d21f1b81b.1b81b1d21f@orange.net>
----- Original Message -----
from: kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com
date: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 7:12 am
subject: Re: Legal requirements RE: statistics

> What about the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines?  They are produced
> by the W3C in the same process as that which produced the WCAG 
> Recommendation, and hold the same status within the W3C.  Should the
> developers of software fear lawsuits for not following UAAG if web
> developers fear lawsuits (or criminal penalties or whatever) based on
The murky issue that we are getting into now is that of product versus 
service. Netscape is a product that the consumer purchases. In many 
states, the disability rights legislation only applies to the provision 
of services, rather than of a product. This makes sense: it would be 
wholly impractical and overtly costly if every single manufactured item 
had to be accessible. For instance, producing daily newspapers and 
magazines in Braille.

As such, I would say there is no requirement that browser software 
comply to the latest standards to allow accessiblity. Therefore it is 
unlikely that a court would consider the UAAG to be quasi-law.

You might ask therefore how the AOL case came about. I would suspect, 
although do not know for sure, that this was based on the fact that AOL 
offered a service which provided internet access. As part of this 
service, they provided the necessary software to use it. In this case 
the AOL browser. As the broswer had accessiblity problems, it therefore 
made the service (accessing the Internet) inaccessible. Thus, the 
product becomes part of the service and therefore AOL are required to 
provide an accessible version (except they weren't because it was 
settled out of court).

(That theory may be entirely wrong - I have yet to find a copy of the 
ADA online and if anyone can tell me where you can find US legislation 
online I'd be quite greatful)

I suspect that this argument could also be used against, for instance, 
mobile telecom operators, to provide accessible handsets (which on 
their own would be a product). It would hardly be undue hardship for 
Vodafone to produce a Braille Nokia xPress-on clip on cover.

> Is the W3C in trouble for having a site which is not triple-AAA
> compliant?
Probably not as most bodies that have recognised the WCAG have only 
done so to Level A. But it is likely that the ante will be upped in the 

> Then why aren't more lawsuits being filed?
A lack of awareness, within the disabled community of their rights, by 
the lawyers of potential claims and in the media for failing to 
highlight it.
Received on Wednesday, 16 January 2002 10:44:54 UTC

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