Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility

I found the following article on the American Foundation for the Blind’s web site.
I posted a comment on their blog about the particular subject. I’ll just post their article and my response to it.

FYI… I’m quite concerned about web accessibility. I’m also concerned about increasing accessibility to research materials. More and more resources are being offered electronically. That’s a great help to me and other visually impaired students.

So check out the article and my response below. Have a great day!

Earlier this week there was an important ruling in a lawsuit against Target to make its web site accessible to customers with vision loss. On Wednesday a federal district court judge ruled that bricks-and-mortar businesses, like Target, may be held accountable if their web sites are not accessible to people with disabilities. This is a significant ruling because it sends a message that companies need to take web accessibility seriously.

But the reality is companies like Target should already be concerned about web accessibility, and not just because it's the right thing to do. As the world has gone digital, so has the ADA. Businesses and major online retailers need to remember to build electronic "ramps" for their sites so that people with disabilities can access them with ease. And, from the standpoint of the proverbial bottom line, the online business community would be silly not to. In a time when baby boomers are aging, and the vision loss numbers are expected to multiply, more and more consumers will need web sites to be accessible.

The Target lawsuit has significantly raised public awareness about the need to make the web accessible to people with vision loss. But my biggest concern is that the judge's ruling could undermine the ADA's coverage of many commercial web sites because the decision is restricted to bricks-and-mortar companies. In other words, following the judge's reasoning, web sites would only need to be accessible when the companies who maintain them also maintain physical stores. This means online retailers like,,
etc., are not affected by Wednesday's ruling. If left unchallenged, this ruling could thwart the clear meaning and intent of the ADA. The US Department of
Justice and the presidentially appointed National Council on Disability have said repeatedly that the ADA applies to accessibility of commercial web sites.
In a time when so many major companies are web based, we need to ensure all commercial web sites take accessibility seriously.

There are currently 2 comments

Re: Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility
Posted by
Angie Braden
on 9/13/2006 4:07:41 PM

I was in awe when I read this particular entry. I recently was approved for a Target card. When I visited their web site to browse their selections, I was
quite disappointed that their site had minimal/limitted accessibility for someone using screen reading software.

Completely unaware of this legal judgement, I wrote Target and complained about their site, insisting that they consider their blind customers. I also mentioned
the Babyboomers in my letter to their on line support team.

I am quite interested in issues such as this. I've made up my mind to use the power of the internet and e-mailto issue complaints and suggestions to those
who I feel need to consider and improve accessibility. What more can I do?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


This morning I wrote a letter to the Glenn Beck Show. He made some very inappropriate comments about blind people. You can view the clip at:

The letter I wrote is as follows.

I'm writing in response to some extremely interesting comments made by Glenn Beck on the August 24 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck Show. The comments that were made that forced me to stop, think, and respond were as follows.

ECK: OK. I have one. I have one. I'm going to get to some of the questions that have already been asked, but I've got one that drives me out of my mind.
I work at Radio City in midtown Manhattan, and up by the doors, you know, like where the -- you know -- the office kitchen is, in Braille, on the wall, it says "kitchen." You'd have to -- a blind person would have to be feeling all of the walls to find "kitchen." Just to piss them off, I'm going to put in Braille on the coffee pot -- I'm going to put, "Pot is hot." Ow!

The guest on the show that particular day writes a column, Dare to Ask. Since the staff of the Glenn Beck show already knows the premise of that particular column, I won't explain. Interestingly, when Mr. Beck expressed his feelings about braille signs on doors, he didn't pose it as a question. He just blurted out his disdain for such signs. Instead of him asking the question, "How could those braille signs be helpful to someone that can't see that they are there?", which would have actually been a great question, he sprayed his ignorance all over the television camera. What a mess!

Just so that Mr. Beck would know, I'll try to explain. The braille signs are helpful to a blind person that is already somewhat oriented to the environment that they are in. The signs help further navigate a person that is blind through the building or to the desired destination. Of course, a person that is blind and coming into a building for the first time would not know the signs are there. But for the person that actually travels on the inside of the building in question, but maybe needs reassurance that they are in the right or wrong place, the signs are a necessity. Well, let me not say a necessity...They are helpful.

I am totally blind. I was a guest in the Hyatt in Jacksonville this summer. After staying in the hotel and traveling throughout the hotel for a couple of days, a sighted person pointed out and made me aware of the braille signs on the inside and outside of the elevators, on the guest and meeting rooms, and on the vending machines.

I wondered what was the point in placing braille signs for someone that's blind, if no one pointed out to the blind person that they were there. But once
I was made aware, my life, at least for that week, was a little less stressful. I was able to travel independently and no if I was at the right or wrong room for the meetings I was expected to attend. If I got a little turned around and showed up at room 720, instead of 725, I didn't have to wait for someone to pass by to ask them was I at the right room. I didn't have to open the door, interrupt a meeting that was already going on, plus embarrass myself.

Ignorance is sometimes excused. But refusing to be educated about things that you are clearly uneducated about would be stupid. Stupidity is never okay.
I hope that you decide to erase your ignorance regarding this matter. Hopefully, you already have.

I don't want to be presumptuous; but I would assume that you are not close friends with anyone that is blind. Maybe you should take the time to get to know someone that is blind. Some blind people are offended when people ask questions. But most of us are willing to erase the public's misconceptions and/or ignorance about blind matters.

I hope you have a great day. I also hope that you take the time to find the answers to the questions you dare to ask.