Web Accessibility Legal Update (Session 7E)
Main Topic:Online Learning and Technology
Session Type: Skill Share
The Internet can eliminate many of the barriers in our society for people with disabilities. Yet, when public and private sector organizations create inaccessible websites or post inaccessible content, they only create additional barriers for citizens and customers with disabilities. For instance, a small local government may use WordPress to post an image of a map showing the location of an important town meeting but a blind citizen who uses a screen reader may be excluded because the image has no “alt text” associated with it. Or a deaf student at a local college may not be able to keep up with the course she always wanted to take because the professor posts an uncaptioned video of an important lecture. Had the local government or college taken the simple steps to make web content accessible, they could have
- complied with the ADA and not discriminated against people with disabilities,
- been more inclusive to people with limited English proficiency, and
- improved overall searchability of content for all users.
Web accessibility has given rise to thousands of lawsuits in recent years. This presentation reviews this trend. It refines a similar presentation that we gave at PacRim last year that was very well received and that generated a lively interactive discussion. Law and Web Accessibility Federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires websites to be accessible. In addition, there are other Federal laws, such as Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, that also come into play. Most recently, state laws (like California’s Unruh Act) have also been applied—including outside of California—to organizations that sell or provide services to California citizens. The first part of this presentation will provide a brief overview of these different accessibility laws and their impact on web sites. Evolution of Web Accessibility Litigation The nationwide surge in web accessibility litigation has also resulted in new cases that have addressed some challenging questions for advocates and organizations. For instance, can organizations be sued from thousands of miles away by plaintiffs who have little interest in becoming a customer? Or when does settling a web accessibility lawsuit prevent subsequent lawsuits? They are also some of the most engaging issues that have direct impact on both consumers and businesses. The second part of this presentation will focus on how the law has evolved regarding these issues.
- UNDERSTAND WHY WEBSITES NEED TO BE ACCESSIBLE. Students will learn about the legal drivers for web accessibility
- UNDERSTAND NATIONAL TRENDS FOR WEB LITIGATION. Students will understand the exponential growth in web accessibility litigation—and the importance of fixing websites now.
- UNDERSTAND IMPORTANT SUBTLETIES IN WEB ACCESSIBILITY LITIGATION. There are a host of issues that have been refined by the courts in web accessibility litigation. Yet these issues are critical to both advocates and consumers. Students will develop a better understanding of how these issues have been resolved—and also how web accessibility affects their specific organizations.
Keywords: WCAG, ADA
Mr. Ken NakataConverge Accessibility - Principal
Ken Nakata is a Principal of Converge Accessibility, a web and digital technology consulting firm that brings together a unique combination of legal and technical expertise. As a consultant, Ken has helped clients of all sizes manage digital accessibility and has worked with organizations like NASA, Microsoft, and HP in shaping accessibility policy. Before forming Converge, he was a Senior Trial Attorney in the Disability Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition to overseeing ADA investigations and representing the Department in Federal court, he also helped the U.S. Access Board develop the original Section 508 regulations and technical assistance information for accessible website design. He also helped develop the Department’s policies for websites and technical information available on www.ada.gov. He is admitted to practice in New York, Washington DC, Washington state, and the District of Columbia.