---- Federal Judge Sustains Discrimination Claims Against Target.com website
KenB - 5:13 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)
Someone mentioned that Bob's personal homepage wouldn't be affected cos it would come under 'freedom of speech'. OK, heads up, only the US, 5% of the world's population, has any "free speech" protection, secondly your sites are available to Europe and so on, thirdly, how is it less discriminatory if Peter the blind chap gets lost or messed up on Bob's site than any other?
Your whole fear is based on flawed logic and false premises. The ADA targets business and government interests and even then if a business is small enough it may be exempt from sections of ADA. For instance just because you rent out apartments you are not required to make any ADA accommodations to those apartments until you have a certain number of apartments you rent out. Even then not all apartments have to have ADA accommodations, only some of them do based on a clearly spelled out set of requirements.
Put it this way, if Bob opens up a personal website saying how much he hates black people, does he slide past anti-discrimination laws because he's not selling anything? No.
ADA has nothing to do with these types of discrimination laws. With that said, Bob's website would not be bound by either ADA or anti-discrimination laws. In fact his website would be fully protected by the First Amendment. Why do you think there are so many racist websites on the Internet that are hosted on U.S. based web servers?
So where's the logic of thinking this will not, now or in the near future, hit personal sites?
The ADA isn't about suppressing or regulating speech, it is about regulating the way people conduct business in the United States. Again these are laws and regulations that apply to business and government. They do not apply to private citizens not engaged in a business activity. In order to require such similar requirements for personal activities like a personal website, a whole new set of laws would have to be written and even then those laws would have a hard time surviving Constitutional challenges.
If Peter's reader thingy goes all screwy and Peter cannot tell what he's doing or where he is because he hit your messy homepage, how is that less confusing, intimidating, restrictive or generally "discriminatory", if we're to use the D word in relation to not trying hard enough to cater to blind people?
While it would be discriminatory it is generally held that we are allowed to be discriminatory in one's personal affairs. If you want to live in a house that requires walking up 100 steps to get to it that is your right (and yes I had friends who lived in such a house, it was barely accessible for anyone not really physically fit). Again the laws all revolve around how businesses conduct business not how people conduct their personal lives.
How long before the onus on providing suitable facilities falls on YOU, not the web-reader software?
Actually the onus falls on both the commercial website AND the software used to access the website. This is all very well spelled out in W3C's specifications and guidelines. If Target designed their website to W3C's accessibility guidelines but the web user failed to avail themselves of software that suited their disability needs to Target's site it would be the user's problem not Target's.
Why should a blind man have to pay for special software, when the technology is there for YOU to provide the audio etc?
In many cases said technology is subsidized for the disabled by government and/or private organizations. Also ADA only requires reasonable accommodation and assumes that the disabled individual would avail themselves of technology and/or aids needed to utilize those accommodations. For instance a blind person would need a seeing eye dog and a paralyzed person would need their own wheelchair. In the case of the web it is assumed that the blind will either make use of dynamic Braille displays that output the contents of webpages in Braille or they will use an audio screen reader which will use a voice synthesizer that "reads" the text of the page back to the user (this is some pretty amazing software).
How long before you need a *license* to run a commercial website?
Never as this would be impossible to enforce.
How long before you need a license to run ANY website?
Never because in the U.S. the 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech (even if it were possible to enforce such a law).
How long before that undermines anything you thought you had in the way of free speech?
I've seen too many discussions in various forums (not just WW) that totally misconstrue what the First Amendment does and does not protect. The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution DOES NOT PROTECT one's ability to run their business in anyway they see fit. The government can if they want establish laws that regulate commercial websites (e.g. require age verification for "adult" websites, prohibit the collection of personal information on minors, establish accessibility requirements, etc.). So while the government can require the Washington Post to make their commercial website accessible to the disabled, the Government can not tell the Washington Post what stories can or can not be published.
I'm VASTLY more in favor of letting the market handle it.
The answer to this comes from some quotes from former Republican Alaskan Governor Wally Hickel, who was a very successful business man in Alaska and a very strong believer in the free enterprise system (Wit and Wisdom of Wally Hickel ISBN# 0964431602):
"Free enterprise left totally free will destroy itself."
"We've got freedom mixed up with business. Some proponents of free enterprise talk about it as if they are saying that Catholicism is the only true religion."
He has some other really applicable quotes to your comment, but they may be seen as too political by moderators.
We already have commercial software that can scan suitable sites, why not develop that software further?
Accessibility software can only go so far; no screen reader could interpret graphics that are missing ALT attributes. In order for sites to be accessible websites AND software must implement accessiblity guidelines.
Why not put this non-profit's money to better use advising on the SEO advantages of accessability?
Because talk alone doesn't work. Talking about accessibility in the bricks and mortar world didn't convince McDonald's and other major company's that making their stores accessible to the disabled was the right thing to do. It required the drafting of laws and then enforcing those laws via lawsuits before the bricks and mortar world embraced accessibility.
Once a legal precedent is set, YOU are legally obliged to provide a suitable website, regardless of the site. There's a gun to your head.
Again you are fear mongering based on flawed logic and a false pretense. Non-commercial websites have nothing to worry about because the ADA does not apply as has been stated countless times in this thread.
Bottom line this does far more to confuse, intimidate and restrict access to the web for small webmasters than any good it does for the percentage of the population that is blind.
Again hyperbole. Such lawsuits will have no impact on the number of websites in existence or those willing to sell their web development services. At most all these lawsuits will do is force businesses, web developers and software developers to take accessibility more seriously.
As populations age and their eyesight fades, as technology moves on and companies look for an edge, there are great incentives for newer better ways of presenting web data - but we just killed any innovation because now everyone must follow a strict text-based formula or they're BREAKING THE LAW.
Once again complete hyperbole rubbish. At most it will force people to seriously reevaluate their use of inaccessible technologies like Flash and maybe take adding ALT attributes and LABEL tags more seriously.
Where there's a need the market will find a solution, faster, cheaper and better than any committee can dictate. But we just stuck a gun in the face of the market and said "Go this way or else".
This is not always true. Some of the best innovation came as a result of regulations. Look at the car industry for example. All of the greatest safety innovations in cars we drive today were directly related to regulations forced upon the car industry.
Congratulations for helping the internet develop.
In spite of your hyperbole, forcing website accessibility upon businesses will not hurt the development of the web. It will simply ensure that disabled people will be able to take part in such development.
It seems some people are upset at my viewpoint.
You seem more interested in spouting off political talking points and hyperbole (ala FOX News) than having a serious debate. Much of your point of view is based on hyperbole, serious misconceptions about what it takes to make websites accessible and false premises.