Category: law

Landmark web accessibility ruling in U.S.

On June 12, a Miami federal judge ruled that Winn-Dixie violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to make its website accessible to blind and visually impaired users.

The lawsuit was filed by blind Florida resident Juan Carlos Gil who uses screen reader software to access websites. Winn-Dixie operates nearly 500 grocery stores in the southeast United States. Judge Robert Scola ruled that the Winn-Dixie website is a place of public accommodation because of its integration with its stores such as downloading coupons, ordering prescriptions, and finding store locations.

Winn Dixie logo

The court order states “the website must be accessible by individuals with disabilities who use computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones,” and content from third party vendors must also be fully accessible.

The estimated cost of $250,000 to make the website accessible was not consider by the court as an undue burden and “pales in comparison to the $2 million Winn-Dixie spent in 2015 to open the website and the $7 million it spent in 2016 to remake the website for the Plenti program.”

This case is especially important because it’s an actual trial with a federal ruling, not a settlement, and thus sets a legal precedent.

Related:

Addendum:

Section 508 Refresh!

U.S. Access Board logoHuge news! The very long awaited “Section 508 Refresh” was officially published in the U.S. Federal Register January 18, 2017. The new rules, officially known as the “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines”, are also documented on the U.S. Access Board’s website.

As before, the rules pertain to “electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by Federal agencies covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”

As anticipated, the web-based portion of the refresh adopts WCAG 2.0 AA.

The rules go into effect in 60 days from publication, which is March 20. Compliance is not required for one year—January 18, 2018.

It’s important to note that legacy content is excused. Through a “Safe Harbor” provision, content published before March 20 is not required to comply with the new rules but still must comply with the previous Section 508 requirements.

The refresh also includes “telecommunications equipment and customer premises equipment covered by Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934.”

Further reading:

Addendum

Bad news from the Trump administration. A related update regarding ADA is put on hold. The following quote is from DOJ Disables Titles II and III Website Regulations by National Law Review. Fortunately, case law in the U.S. for web accessibility continues to be strong.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has placed its once-planned website accessibility regulations under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on an inactive list, putting to rest speculation about what the Trump administration may do with respect to the long-promised regulations.

Recent Web Accessibility Lawsuits

Listed below are three recent lawsuits regarding web accessibility, and then some great related links. Legal action against inaccessible websites is a growing trend especially in the U.S. and unfortunately a needed one. It’s always been my opinion that although it’s obviously smart for companies to provide accessible websites, it’s the law that will make it happen on a wide-scale. Sad but true.

gavel - black and white illustration

Blind Woman Sues Red Roof Inns, Alleging Inaccessible Website

The plaintiff requests the court require Red Roof to retain a mutually approved consultant to perform periodic automated accessibility audits to oversee the defendant’s compliance with the ADA, create an official accessibility policy and post the information directly on its website.

Legal action against the NBA over website accessibility

The suit specifies that screen readers should be able to navigate through the NBA website as ‘screen reader software provides the primary method by which a blind person may independently use the Internet. Unless websites are designed to be read by screen reader software or other assistive technologies, blind individuals are unable to fully access websites and the information, products and services available through the sites.’

Blind Woman Sues Toys “R” Us, Alleging Violation of Federal Disabilities Act

The suit says the toy company’s website contains digital barriers which limit the ability of blind and visually impaired consumers to access the sites.

[The plaintiff] seeks a permanent injunction, directing Toys “R” Us to bring its websites into full compliance with ADA requirements.

Added Dec 9: Advocates for disabled sue [Ohio Secretary of State] over voting, website problems

Kristen Henry, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Ohio, said Husted’s website is inaccessible to people who are blind because it does not allow use of special screen-reading software that translates written words into speech. She said government agencies are required to provide access for the disabled through the ADA.

Related:

Web Axe 2011 Year in Review

So another year has gone by, and another bigger and better for web accessibility! One good sign is that I’ve noticed lots of job openings related to web accessibility, you probably noticed multiple posts on that this year. And more lawsuits going on as well, which I believe is an evil necessity to wake up many companies on the topic.

The “Fixing Alt” series continued which provides alternative text for various web pages in the wild. Check out two for The Oatmeal: the Netflix Comic on the company’s pricing fiasco, and 6 Reasons Bacon Is Better Than True Love.

We had a couple guest blogs including Jennison’s IT Accessibility Goes To Camp. Mid-year, Web Axe joined Facebook, serving as another great avenue to share the good word. And, now you can order your own Web Axe T-shirt!

2011 was also a big year for Easy Chirp, created by Web Axe author Dennis Lembree. The accessible Twitter web app was renamed from “Accessible Twitter” and was a recipient of the AFB 2011 Access Award.

Dennis was busy in November and gave presentations for the @AccessibilityDC meetup, How To Build An Accessible Web Application, and for EASI, Twitter and Accessibility.

Other great blogs this year:

Podcast #92: Frustrated

Dennis vents about frustrations around web accessibility and revisit the “game plan”. He and Ross also discuss some great recent articles and review several upcoming web accessibility events.

Download Web Axe Episode 92 (Frustrated)

[Transcript of podcast 92]

Sponsor: Help make a difference and join Project:Possibility: a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating open source software that benefits persons with disabilities. Our SS12 Code for a Cause competition is an opportunity for students to learn about accessibility and make a difference by developing innovative projects for persons with disabilities, as well as the chance to work with industry professionals.

Goings On

Ross’ book update.

California court rules for JetBlue:

Old Twitter gone for good; New Twitter not accessible.

  • The official word about the final rollout of New Twitter.
  • Forced to use New Twitter & unable to use it? Try the robust and web-accessible Easy Chirp (@EasyChirp). On iPhone, try TweetList.

Frustrated!

Unfortunately, after 20 years since the World Wide Web opened to the public, I’d have to say that accessibility is worse than ever.

Related links:

Articles

Web Camp/Unconference Reminders

Accessibility Camp Montreal
Friday, August 26, 2011
Montreal, Canada
Twitter: @A11yMTL

Boston Accessibility Unconference
Saturday, September 17, 10am to 5pm EST
Twitter: @a11ybos

Accessibility Camp Toronto
Saturday, September 24
Toronto, Canada (OCAD University)
Twitter: @A11yCampTO Email: a11ycampto at gmail dot com

Web Accessibility London Unconference
Wednesday, 21 September 2011, 10am to 4pm
London, UK (City University London)

Accessibility Camp DC
Saturday, October 22
MLK Library in Washington, DC
Twitter: @AccessCampDC