5th European eAccessibility Forum
Benefits and costs of e-accessibility

28/03/2011, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou 75019 - Paris, France

 
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Litigation and the Business case for e-accessibility in the US

Cynthia Waddell (California, USA)
the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI)
Cynthia.Waddell@icdri.org

Speaker's information


photo Cynthia Waddell

Cynthia Waddell is the Executive Director and Law, Policy and Technology Subject Matter Expert for the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI).  She also leads ICDRI’s Accessibility Oversight Consulting Services for clients in government, academia and the business community to further ICDRI’s mission to remove electronic and information technology barriers and promote equal opportunity for all.

In the world of accessibility, Cynthia Waddell is an internationally recognized expert in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).  She is the author of the first accessible web design standard in the United States in 1995 that led to recognition as a best practice by the federal government and contributed to the eventual passage of legislation for Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508).  

In the international area, Cynthia Waddell serves as an invited accessibility expert for the U.S. Department of State International Telecommunications Advisory Committee.  She previously served as an invited accessibility expert for the US Delegation at the World Telecommunications Policy Forum in 2009 and participated on the U.S. Delegation for the 2010 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference held in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

Summary


Warning : The short papers of this conference have been prepared by BrailleNet who accept any responsibility for them. But presentation materials provided for download (full-papers or slides) have been provided by the authors themselves.

Policies and new laws affect dramatically the economic understanding of e-accessibility. Litigation cases involving disability laws can define a price for non-accessibility implementation by penalizing, sometimes heavily, firms and institutions.

Therefore, litigation cases have a deep impact on the technology market. It implies also that activism and judiciary actions offer a way to assess e-accessibility benefits, although seemingly paradoxical (avoiding penalty).

Kindle eBook litigation is a perfect example of e-accessibility laws and litigations affecting the technological market: in April 2009, six Colleges and Universities announce pilot projects with Amazon to use the Kindle DX in classes. On 25 June 2009, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) jointly sued Arizona State University on behalf of students with visual impairments over the university’s use of electronic textbooks read through Amazon’s Kindle DX.  The suit was filed to prevent the university from deploying the Kindle DX electronic reading device as a means of distributing electronic textbooks to all students.  Plaintiffs alleged that the university’s use of Kindle DX for textbooks violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA. Although the Kindle features text to speech technology that reads text out loud, the menus are not accessible even though technology exists for accessible menus.  Moreover, users with visual disabilities cannot access many of the other Kindle DX features such as the ability to directly download books, add bookmarks, take notes, highlight text, look up word definitions and search online libraries. Additional complaints were filed against five other institutions of higher education for deploying the Kindle DX as part of a pilot project to assess the role of electronic textbooks and reading devices in the classroom. The complaints alleged violations of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Subsequently the higher education institutions settled the case and the settlements contained number of common themes. First, the college will not purchase, promote, recommend or require a Kindle DX or any other dedicated electronic book reader for use by students unless the device is fully accessible or a reasonable accommodation or medication can be provided.

Such a settlement called for a response from the eReaders market: in April 3, 2010, Apple launches iPad with extensive Accessibility Features and in July 29, 2010, Amazon releases Kindle 3 with talking menus.

For more details and more litigation cases, see Appendix 3.

Vidéo :
Cynthia WADDELL Keynote - 5ème Forum Européen... par Braillenet

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