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Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the blind-suing-the-blind dept.

Sony 550

An anonymous reader writes "A visually impaired gamer has sued Sony because game products allegedly violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. 'According to the suit, Sony ignored repeated requests through postal mail and e-mail to come up with reasonable modifications to its games to make them more accessible.' This suit seems to be a combination of National Federation of the Blind v. Target, which complained of inaccessibility to the visually disabled (which settled for $6 million) and Martin v. PGA Tour, Inc., where the US Supreme Court ruled a disabled golfer was entitled to a golf cart where one was not already allowed as a reasonable accommodation. If the plaintiff wins, Sony will have to make 'reasonable accommodations' which are not an 'undue financial burden.' In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony."

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550 comments

What next? Cameras? (5, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015084)

I'd hate to to think what this guy would do when he realizes that cameras don't pander to the visually impaired market. On the other hand, I'm blind in one eye so maybe I can take a leaf out of his book and and sue camera companies anyway for products that don't suit my particular physical situation and finally realize that "??? profit" step.

Re:What next? Cameras? (5, Funny)

camg188 (932324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015192)

Art museums, for not letting the visually impaired feel the masterpieces.

Re:What next? Cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015362)

Film studios next. And the deaf will sue the music industry.

Re:What next? Cameras? (5, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015372)

No, the music industry sues the deaf.

Re:What next? Cameras? (2, Funny)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015448)

Ever heard of Subtitles?

Re:What next? Cameras? (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015578)

for the blind? Or you refering to music subtitles?

Re:What next? Cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015402)

British Museum does, but I agree

Re:What next? Cameras? (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015426)

Won't work unless they are stereo cameras because in normal cameras the pictures all come out exacty as you see the world. Flat.

Which is a blessing if you are married becasue you can always cop out of the question, "Does the new ### make me look fat?"

Re:What next? Cameras? (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015586)

I believe that he is refering to the placement of the viewfinder and the fact that the eye that most people would use with the viewfinder is blind. This makes it awkward for him to use a camera

Re:What next? Cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015500)

Last time I checked, cameras don't require stereoscopic vision to operate or view the results of.

Go after MS paint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015088)

No braille version.

Great (1)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015092)

Next he can sue auto manufacturers for not making cars accessible to the blind.

Re:Great (2, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015506)

Next he can sue auto manufacturers for not making cars accessible to the blind.

That lawsuit is entirely possible and winnable under the current ADA. Reform is necessary NOW! Predatory lawyers and litigious garbage (yes, they can be disabled too) are ruining this country and the ADA facilitates it for being written too loosely!

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

edumacator (910819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015546)

I don't disagree that ADA is written too loosely, but a lot of the abuse depends on the judge. The "reasonable accommodations" part of the act is important.

If there are modifications that can be made without undue financial strain, I don't see a problem with asking the company to modify the game.

The red herrings mentioned elsewhere, about making cars work for the blind and the like, would be examples of UNreasonable accommodations.

this is getting ridiculous (5, Insightful)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015094)

I was born with a crippled left hand making it impossible for me to play an immensely popular game, Guitar Hero.

Should I sue because they didn't accommodate for people with my particular disability? Plenty of people are missing limbs. Why aren't they in an uproar over Guitar Hero?

and what somebody sued and got 6 million dollars from the PGA? I don't think Lee Travino's putting challenge has anywhere near the popularity of Guitar Hero.

Re:this is getting ridiculous (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015168)

If your left hand is useless, how do you jack your cock to Internet porn? Do you move your right hand between your pecker and your mouse? Doesn't your mouse get dirty when you blow on your hand and then go to quickly close the browser windows before your girlfriend catches you beating your penis to pictures of llamas, camels and alpacas?

Re:this is getting ridiculous (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015318)

"beating your penis to pictures of llamas, camels and alpacas?"

Jeff Minter, is that you?

Pick up a copy of Penis Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015218)

Takes a lot of practice and you will have to develop some calluses, and there are some legal challenges to playing in public, but I guess you could sue over that.

Re:this is getting ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015292)

No, PL > B Your B would be very high.

Controller Mod? (5, Interesting)

Zathain Sicarius (1398033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015334)

What if you were to play around with the frets with your right hand and mod the controller out to replace the strum bar with two foot pedals? (A bit of a roundabout solution, but Its better than the other replies you've gotten...) What I'd really like to see is the content of these letters that he's sent to Sony. Theres another article linked inside of this one about a guy who is blind and helps other blind people play commercial games through screen readers, surround sound, and menu guides. He's even gone so far as to send mail to developers and publishers to suggest how they might better help the blind. That could be the key difference between these two. If this guy just sent a bunch of letters about how "OMGZ UR GAME ISH HARD FUR BLIND PEEPS" and then giggled to himself how they didn't respond to him, then he's just being an idiot trying to get some cash out of this. If Sony's been ignoring valid suggestions on how to help and giving him the silent treatment, then he might have a case.

Re:this is getting ridiculous (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015478)

The guitar's just a controller. Substitute your regular controller for the guitar.

OS-impaired (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015096)

I'm an operating-system-ly impaired gamer. I'm using Debian to run my computer. I demand that all Windows games be immediately released for Linux.

Re:OS-impaired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015272)

Poof. Done. (*)

(* = Unfortunately, most of the games contain bugs that prevent them from installing and/or running under Linux.)

Re:OS-impaired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015300)

lol way to go, thats definitely the image linux needs.. "Running Linux is a disability"

Re:OS-impaired (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015398)

Wine.

Okay, some things run. Half the time. But it's not like they ran any better on Windows in the first place. :P

i'm blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015116)

I'm blind and I fully support this guy. Those racing games are really hard when you can't see where you're driving. I think I'll follow his lead and sue the DMV for discrimination.

Enough with the crappy controllers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015128)

I wish they'd stop trying to endlessly make the controllers more efficient (= smaller & fiddlier).

Its bad enough trying to use a mouse or joystick with all the extra buttons they add.
Any kind of dexterity affecting disability makes most of them impossible to use.
A gamepad with 2 sticks, 20 buttons on all 6 sides and motion control is just impossible.

Re:Enough with the crappy controllers (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015410)

They've pretty much reached the limit on button number... note how the PS2 and PS3 controllers are barely different, and the 360 controller doesn't have more buttons than the PS2 controller. I can't find actual numbers, but I'm pretty sure that's the case.

Crossing the line ... (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015136)

In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony.

That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion, but when did accessibility to a video game, which presupposes a minimum level of vision, become a privilege mandated by the Federal Government? We are not talking about an essential service here, access to government records, we aren't even talking about a visually-impaired person being unable to order products online. It's a video game. Entertainment, no more.

Look, sometimes we can't do fun things that we'd like to do, but it doesn't mean we should start hiring lawyers. There was a time in my life when I'd go rock-climbing (only a few times, but it was fun and I was in pretty good physical shape back then.) Almost thirty years later and I wouldn't even bother trying: totally out of my league now, having been at a desk job for almost that long. So, that being the case, should I start complaining that rock faces should be made "accessible" to me in my "impaired" condition?

Please.

Re:Crossing the line ... (2, Funny)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015202)

In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony.

That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion

Finally, an opinion on Slashdot worthy of being humble!

Re:Crossing the line ... (0)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015224)

Amusement parks are "entertainment, no more," and they're governed by the ADA as well.

As for your analogy, you likely (not knowing the details of your medical condition) would not be able to demonstrate that you are "disabled," within the statutory meaning - you have to have a significant impairment in a major life activity, which is a high standard to meet. Even if you could demonstrate that you were disabled, you would then have to show that there were "reasonable" accommodations they could make, which means imposing too much of a cost on the business to make the accommodation is right out. Since you have to be significantly disabled to be entitled to "reasonable accommodations," in many circumstances the accommodation for the disability would be considered unreasonable.

Unfortunately, the ADA largely ends up only protecting a small cross-section of the disabled from businesses that are making poor decisions in *not* accommodating disabilities. Whether or not this case against SOE falls into that category is something that remains to be seen.

Re:Crossing the line ... (2, Informative)

utahjazz (177190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015438)

Amusement parks are "entertainment, no more," and they're governed by the ADA as well.

Amusement parks are covered by the ADA because they are commercial facilities.

The ADA specifies 5 covered entities. Tell me which if these is a video game:

* Employment: no
* Public Entity: no
* Public Transportation: no
* Public Accommodation: no
* Commercial Facility: no (virtual doesn't count)
* Telecommunication: That's as close as you're going to get, but I'm going to go with 'no' on this as well.

A video game is not a commercial facility, nor is it employment, public facility, public transportation, or telecommunication.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015508)

It could easily be seen as a public accommodation.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015530)

It could easily be seen as a public accommodation.

er... video game systems and the games themselves are private property.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015518)

Should all movies be modified so blind people can enjoy them like us bastards who can see?
Should all music players be required to blink lights to the beat and show subtitles so deaf people can enjoy the music too (but that would be unfair to deaf epileptics)

The ADA at amusement parks is more along the lines of making sure a person with no legs can get on a roller coaster, not making sure the blind guy can win the ball toss.

There's a point where it's just being stupid to be pissed that you can't enjoy a visual medium if you're blind.

Re:Crossing the line ... (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015560)

I'm a lawyer, but not yours. I wouldn't represent someone who thinks taking legal advice from Slashdot is a good idea.

That's the best Slashdot disclaimer I've seen yet.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015236)

Well stated...

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015274)

When I first read the summary, I was thinking "well, don't most all video game companies do that these days" with the specific example of the excellent CC in Valve games.
Then I read your comment, and was thinking "what an insensitive clod."
Then I realize that this was for VISUALLY impaired, and proceeded to think "WTF!!!!!"

Re:Wow... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015400)

I can just imagine a "twitch" game for blind players.

"Ready...Jump!"
"Crouch now!"
"Dodge! Dodge!"
"Do A barrel Roll!"

It would make fucking Navi seem like a phone sex operator inside of 15 seconds.

Re:Wow... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015580)

Your screenreader is much too slow. Try using the 300 words per minute setting-- the cues are much more precise.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1, Insightful)

Teckla (630646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015328)

That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion...

It's too bad you had to politicize an otherwise reasonable post and opinion.

Re:Crossing the line ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015454)

That's a fine-sounding liberal opinion, but when did accessibility to a video game, which presupposes a minimum level of vision, become a privilege mandated by the Federal Government? We are not talking about an essential service here, access to government records, we aren't even talking about a visually-impaired person being unable to order products online. It's a video game. Entertainment, no more.

We're not talking blind, we're talking visually impaired, and a lot of what Sony does is just petty. Small print that's impossible to read in SD, low-contrast colors, failure to support color blind people, and on and on. All of these are dead simple to fix.

There's a lot more merit to this case than you're giving it credit for.

Re:Crossing the line ... (1)

gak001 (954735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015584)

This isn't a liberal/conservative/libertarian issue. I'm fairly liberal myself and I'm left wondering if they can sue publishers for not having all of their books on tape.

And in other news ... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015148)

A visually impaired reader is suing Barnes and Noble because their books are inaccessible to the blind.
A hearing impaired man is suing the RIAA for producing music that the deaf can't hear.
A paraplegic is suing Harley Davidson because their motorbikes are difficult to ride without the use of your arms.
A person with learning difficulties is suing Canonical because they can't figure out how to operate the terminal.

Re:And in other news ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015336)

A visually impaired reader is suing Barnes and Noble because their books are inaccessible to the blind.

Audio books are available, as are books in braille as do book readers for PRF/kindle books.
Do any of these book printing services offer the printing of braille books? Wouldn't that be a good service for Amazon/BaN to offer?

A hearing impaired man is suing the RIAA for producing music that the deaf can't hear.

There are alternative ways to experience the music (like visualisations and the Mr Holland's Opus thing).

A paraplegic is suing Harley Davidson because their motorbikes are difficult to ride without the use of your arms.

There are controls to allow you to control most vehicles

A person with learning difficulties is suing Canonical because they can't figure out how to operate the terminal.

Canonical does ship software to aid in using the terminal and the software itself is very customizable.

While I agree its a silly lawsuit.. maybe Sony could do more to make things easier for people with disabilities.
High contrast visuals/Gamma override for all output.
Controllers for people with reduced dexterity.

They shouldn't have to do everything but shouldn't they at least do a little bit?

I don't get it (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015150)

So are deaf people going to sue Sony for not signing bands that cater to the hearing impaired?

I'm all for promoting access for the disabled but there's just some things that can't be done no matter how many lawsuits you file.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015562)

So are deaf people going to sue Sony for not signing bands that cater to the hearing impaired?
You're right. You don't get it.

I doubt it'll provide more profit for Sony (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015152)

I doubt it'll provide more profit for Sony. But if Sony lose and are forced to mod their MMORPGs, I think it may mean more profit for gold farmers. Some of the mods are likely to make it easier for bots to navigate and do stuff :).

Re:I doubt it'll provide more profit for Sony (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015254)

Even if Sony loses the suit, there's nothing stopping Sony from accepting mods for the sole purpose of aiding accessibility while still forbidding other kinds of mods. Perhaps a certification process for third party mods.

Re:I doubt it'll provide more profit for Sony (1)

Koby77 (992785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015394)

Sony will have to make 'reasonable accommodations' which are not an 'undue financial burden.' In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony."

I thought it was supposed to be a given that Sony's would introduce any feature to a game for it to make more profit without changing its business model? Somehow, I don't think that Sony is going to profit from adding handicapped-accessible features to a game, because that seems to be the one base that Sony has covered.

Good luck with that? (2, Insightful)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015160)

Somehow, I doubt it would be easy to enable people who are BLIND to play video games. :/

Re:Good luck with that? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015186)

Somehow, I doubt it would be easy to enable people who are BLIND to play video games. :/

Why not? "Press the X button. Now run after the red thing." Okay, maybe I see your point.

Re:Good luck with that? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015226)

Do you remember the old laser disc game, "The Dragon's Lair"? The sound track was very linked to events in the game: only two of them, where the scene would be reversed left-right randomly. I actually saw someone play it blindfolded, as proof that it could be done, with the cheering crowd telling him to go left or right for that pair of scenes.

Re:Good luck with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015346)

Do you remember the old laser disc game, "The Dragon's Lair"? The sound track was very linked to events in the game: only two of them, where the scene would be reversed left-right randomly. I actually saw someone play it blindfolded, as proof that it could be done, with the cheering crowd telling him to go left or right for that pair of scenes.

With a game like Dragon's Lair, it's fairly simple to memorize the control sequence and have a decent idea of the timing/music cues after playing it a dozen times. It's one thing to do something blindfolded after you've practiced a lot without a blindfold beforehand. It's a totally different thing entirely to be able to do it without ever being able to see.

Re:Good luck with that? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015282)

Simple. Use audio cues instead of visual ones. TFA mentioned an audio compass and voice-over as being examples.

Re:Good luck with that? (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015548)

Then you are open to being sued by Helen Keller.

Re:Good luck with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015516)

I agree, blind people are generally inferior according to a number of peer viewed studies [youtube.com] .

In FPS games they can be a real pain in the ass, usually ending up shooting you in the back.
On several occasions, back in the days, I've met blind WOW players running cluelessly around Dun Morogh, seemingly unable to locate the exit points.

The problem isn't that they are blind but that they just can't behave like normal people.

Re:Good luck with that? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015592)

Look up "echolocation boy" on youtube- that kid plays video games despite being blind.

Doesn't make sense (2, Insightful)

siride (974284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015172)

Why are game companies, or any companies for that matter, required to make every product accessible? I can understand government services, both because of their purpose but also because of the fact that they are paid for by public money (and generally don't actually need to be un-accessible), but products of corporations? If this guy wants to complain to the company and then not buy their products, fine. In fact, that's really the best way to deal with the issue.

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015312)

Accessibility isn't required, reasonable accommodations are. Now to debate the definition of "reasonable" and whether or not the feds should even be involved is another matter.

Standarized interface for plugins? (2, Interesting)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015174)

Most screen readers can parse HTML so that visually impaired users can access web sites, as long as they properly write the web site to standards (not making the whole thing in Flash, for example).

It'd make sense if game developers got behind publishing a common API for all games, so that a user can just install a single program that'd give the proper clues to disabled gamers for every compatible game.

Re:Standarized interface for plugins? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015228)

You don't install programs on consoles, it's games only.

Re:Standarized interface for plugins? (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015526)

Exact, the problem is that sony does not allow any kind of plugins. They closed their software so much that even thirth party developers cannot devolop things like high contrast mods. The only reason for this can be anti-cheat protection and (to sony) anti copyright protection.

double edged sword? (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015176)

I think it's great when companies provide their products in services in a manner that makes them more accessible/usable to people with disabilities. However some modifications may give normally-abled people an unfair advantage or disadvantage. If I hide in the shadows it's rather unfair that other people simply have to turn on the "make everyone extra bright" button and now I'm seen.

It may be an issue of the game designers being afraid of ruining gameplay balance by implementing accessibility features now, as an afterthought.

Re:double edged sword? (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015364)

If I hide in the shadows it's rather unfair that other people simply have to turn on the "make everyone extra bright" button and now I'm seen.

They are already spreading their users across many different servers. Maybe they could set up a couple of servers with different settings to make the game more accessible.

It does sound ridiculous at first, but if there is something simple they can do without ruining the game for everyone, why shouldn't they?

Re:double edged sword? (0, Flamebait)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015600)

Maybe they could set up a couple of servers with different settings to make the game more accessible.

Separate but equal?
It's never 'equal'.

Can we finally (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015182)

get some of that Final Solution shit to take care of all the gimps and tards once and for all?

been going downhill (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015210)

It's been going downhill ever since that Tommy kid successfully sued Bally in the 70s...

Re:been going downhill (1)

bn557 (183935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015510)

He sure was a pinball wizard. Wonder if had an uncle. I knew this guy once who had an uncle named Ernie... That guy fiddled about a lot.

I've got just the game got him... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015214)

It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

>_

This could backfire (3, Funny)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015220)

Knowing Sony, they might also consider the mass slaughter of the physically impaired to be a financially responsible action.

Re:This could backfire (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015320)

Introducing Sony's cutting edge PlayStation 4 game console, now with revolutionary Soylent Green-Ray disc technology.

I'm torn (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015232)

On one hand, it's Sony.

On the oth- Wait, never mind. :)

So, could a socially impaired person... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015238)

... Sue woman?

Re:So, could a socially impaired person... (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015278)

Where are you going to meet a woman, much less work up the courage to get rejected by her?

What's next? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015242)

Wiilchair Fit?

Public Accommodation (5, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015248)

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that, "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation."

This has kept a generation of lawyers employed by arguing over the definition of "public accommodation". The strict interpretation limits it to only physical places, which would rule out games. There have been many court battles over expanding the definition. This particular suit, if I read the various summaries correctly (IANAL), would be one of the more far reaching stretches of the definition and could have a significant impact on how much the ADA covers.

In short, it could fund an entire new generation of lawyers by expanding the ADA to an almost unlimited scope. Blind or not, I hope this guy goes down in flames.

For reference: http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?50+Duke+L.+J.+297 [duke.edu]

Re:Public Accommodation (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015456)

If people keep attempting this it may eventually push lawmakers into providing a more precise and limited definition, likely related to essential services. That is not likely the goal this person has in mind. As with so many things, it only takes a couple of people abusing something to ruin it for everybody.

Re:Public Accommodation (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015464)

AOL settled with the National Organization for the Blind on that one, agreeing to make their client more "accessible". That was in 2000, when AOL's web client mattered.

Target settled their online ADA lawsuit in 2008 [usefularts.us] . But that was related to Target's having physical stores subject to the ADA, and the web site being related to the stores.

The ADA only applies to "commercial speech", where the intent is to sell. In the US, the First Amendment preempts the ADA for non-commercial speech by non-government parties. It would be "forced speech" [bu.edu] , prohibited by the First Amendment, to require "accessible content" for non-commerce web sites and for content delivered through non-monopoly-regulated channels.

Games aren't usually "commercial speech".

The problem is the vague definition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015270)

To the impaired individual 'reasonable accommodations' means anything possible should be done, I have heard people make this exact statement. For the game company it would be defined as reasonable expectation of being profitable. Adding text reading code might be possible but it may or may not be profitable given the limited number of sales it would generate. A braille screen might be technically possible and to the impaired person fall under 'reasonable accommodations' but there is no way it would be profitable to produce. Even writing the added code for a third party add-on would likely cost more than sales would generate. Due to the vague and all inclusion wording of the law any such cases are doomed to court which costs the companies money and raises the prices of games. If they wish to apply the law to in this case visually oriented media like games standards have to set set, period. It's unfair to expect game companies to face litigation due to poorly written law.

Why does this only apply to Sony? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015276)

So why is he specifically targeting Sony? Why not all the video game manufacturers? In the end, Sony will agree to make some trivial modification to some game to meet this guys requirements, maybe like a "high contrast mode". And then...

The lawyers will once again win.

Re:Why does this only apply to Sony? (1)

Geak (790376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015496)

I smell a Stella award...

Re:Why does this only apply to Sony? (1)

cjjjer (530715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015550)

The same reason that Eolas went after MS and gave Mozilla a free ride, because there was no money in suing Mozilla. Or at least not as much as what MS would have or did pay out.

WOW from a Visually Impaired Person's point... (3, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015326)

http://www.wow.com/2009/07/06/visually-impaired-players-the-unseen-inhabitants-of-azeroth/ [wow.com]

The biggest problem for me personally is raiding. Picture this, if you will, we're mid-raid (10 is bad, 25 a nightmare) and someone dies. My raid leader pipes up: 'Combat rez on xxx now!' As the Druid, this means me and it's time to panic. Somewhere in the mass of moving targets, dead trash mobs and my valiant guild mates is a corpse. I've got to find and rez that corpse now and I have no idea where to find them. I usually yell for the raid leader to mark said fallen soul but it doesn't always happen. Welcome to my nightmare.

Re:WOW from a Visually Impaired Person's point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015558)

I think this guy would fail in the same way if he was physically in Azeroth. Shouldn't he praise the game for being realistic?

Exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015356)

Man, I hate all this discrimination. Do you even realize how frustrating it must be for the blind to go to such an essential place such as the the movies? I mean... oh, wait.

What a loser (-1, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015360)

He needs to get off his handicap high horse.

Being handicapped sucks, I'm sure of that but you can't go around trying to get everything modified to work with your gimp ass.

This is pathetic (1)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015392)

I am confused, since when has it been a Right to play video games?

At some point people are just going to have to take a step back and re-evaluate some of this politically correct nonsense. When someone with impaired VISION can successful sue for not being able to play a VIDEO game something is seriously wrong. You have to draw the line somewhere.

And as for the "generate more profit", no, no they wont. The only way the will generate more profit is if the costs to implement the modifications are offset by increased sales. I doubt there are enough people in this situation to make it worth the effort.

This got me think though, are there theaters that play movies with subtitles for the hearing impaired? I could see profit from that.

This is entertaining (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015416)

I can't wait until a deaf person sues Apple over iTunes.

geez is this even possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015418)

maybe already someone written something very similar to this but, what esactly this person wants sony to do.. make the contrast higher so he can see the images on the screen, or the characters ridicully huge so it can get this runnning for him?, its a video game, a machine designed to work in a way its not a service by its own, and as someone said up there.. its pure entertainment, whats next people suing just becouse they aren't fast enough with the buttons.. or the rpgs are too complex to solve the puzzles, couse they don't give instructions for the combos on the fighting games?.. i know my comparative isn't as strong but well lets just say i think people should try not to be that whinny, and honestly im curious to know how this visually impaired person would solve the problem if he was sony himself.

geez.

How much of this is customer service? (2, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015460)

Many large organizations today seem to use their customer-facing staff solely as a means for getting rid of people who phone up to complain, or to request things or make enquiries. This isn't necessarily the fault of the staff in question, or the intention of the organization. Yet somehow things get structured so that it becomes the function of the support staff. For instance, I suspect that under-staffing the help desk or measuring performance by calls "resolved" as opposed to customers satisfied tends to push things towards a "When customers call, make them go away, otherwise they're stopping us talking to our customers" mode of operation.

The other problem is that it's pretty easy in a large organization (or even a small, highly bureaucratic one) to get into situations where large swathes of problems are "somebody else's responsibility", or likely "nobody in particular". Much as I dislike the idea of a work environment where inappropriate work is dumped on people, or staff are lumped with resolving things they're not responsible for, at the end of the day the buck ought to stop *somewhere*, even if it's just a customer service supervisor writing back. If a customer has a real and legitimate question to which there is *an* answer but there's *nobody* in the organization whose job description allows or requires them to answer it, you're doing something wrong. It's not possible to satisfy all people all of the time but I think most organizations can do a heck of a lot better than they do!

In this instance, the allegation is that Sony ignored requests made of them. Did they ignore them outright, did they fob off the (potential?) customer, or did they make the effort to respond but the gamer didn't like the answer anyhow? Sony may have done everything as well as they possibly could in this case but they should nonetheless evaluate whether engaging more with the gamer in question could have saved them a court case.

Some of the claims in the case could seem a bit dubious but as the article points out, various other companies have at least allowed 3rd parties to develop plugins that assist disabled gamers. So it's not like anybody's saying Sony must develop (for instance) a braille interface to WoW on their own budget.

Lets make this very clear! (4, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015482)

The Americans With Disabilities Act was written so loosely that there are so many of these litigious bullshitteries going on nation wide. It is basically a form of extortion facilitated by poorly written 'laws'.

We need reform on the ADA as soon as possible! Locally, a predatory woman has sued over 80 local businesses (this is her JOB now), represented by a lawyer who has sued over 250.

I hope sony lobbies to get reform.

I say all of this with the great respect for the disabled and the true intent of the ADA. It is the exploit of the act that bothers me so much.

In this case, Sony makes visual video games and a guy who can't see thinks Sony OWES him a game. That's like being allergic to peanut butter and suing Reeses for not making you a hazelnut cup. THEY DONT OWE YOU A HAZELNUT CUP!

Repeal the ADA... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015484)

This act has been a complete sham since its adoption and is a permanent backdoor to special treament for anyone who can hire a doctor to say they are disabled.

Time to end these government-sponsored special privileges. We tried it, its bogus, scrap it.

This is crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30015486)

As a blind person I'd just like to say this is a load of crap. While you can make first person shooters like quake accessible see www.agrip.org.uk the changes needed to do so make it a totally different game. Face it there are some things you can't do while blind, these include first person shooters, being a fighter pilot, and driving. I'd just like to point out that the NFB does not represent most blind people, although there so vociferous in there opinion that blind people have to be able to do everything sited people do that they have a bigger impact then they deserve. Maybe I should spend all my time finding new corporations to sue so I can get on the front page of Slashdot instead of trying to live a normal life, going to work, and contributing to society? I'd love to see an NFB person respond and try to justify this.

What about the giving-a-damn-impaired? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015522)

Can I sue Sony (or any major game publisher) for not releasing any game that would be even remotely interesting to me?

Re:What about the giving-a-damn-impaired? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015596)

Can I sue Sony (or any major game publisher) for not releasing any game that would be even remotely interesting to me?

Yes.

I don't think you would win however.

not sure... (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015564)

my perception of somebory that is "visually impaired" is somebody that doesnt see very well, but is not blind. if you can see, but not very well, buying a beamer would be the obvious solution instead of suing Sony.

anyway, if the changes for Sony would be reasonable and it wouldn't affect the quality of the product in a negative way, i'd say why not? do it!

Sue him back (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015576)

Sony should sue him back for his refusal to buy a bigger TV.

What is he asking them to do? (1)

patrickthbold (1351131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015582)

He gave them a list of suggestions, if they are reasonable then maybe they need to comply. They point is companies should make a reasonable effort to make thier products accessable to the handicapped. I'm not sure of the law but in principle it is the right thing to do. Of course if what he's asking is very difficult then it makes sense for Sony to say "We can't do that". This is very different then him just suing because he can't do something. People above talked about camera's, driving, rock climbing. Imagine if he came up with a practical way for a blind person to drive safely and he suggested it and the car companies refused.

Depends on what he's asking for (1)

sinrakin (782827) | more than 4 years ago | (#30015588)

My initial feeling is that this sounds like nonsense: the word "video" in "video game" pretty much implies that vision is required. However, maybe he's asking for something that's not too unreasonable: a better brightness control, or a high contrast mode, or a way to limit extraneous detail, or something that might not be incredibly hard to include as a part of all games, and that would open up the whole are of video games to people previously unable to experience them. I'd have sort of a hard time arguing against that.
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