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Dept. of Justice Considers Web For ADA

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the this-can-only-end-well dept.

The Internet 296

beetle496 noted a blog entry saying "The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the Accessibility of Web Information and Services Provided by Entities Covered by the ADA (i.e., State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations). You can read the fact sheet, or the entire notice. In short, the Department is seeking comments on their desire to revise regulation to 'establish specific requirements for State and local governments and public accommodations to make their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities.' The Department is seeking specific comment on many things including the standards they should adopt, and if there should be any exemptions for certain entities (e.g., small business) before they publish their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This is amazing news! The impact that this will have for individuals with disabilities cannot be overemphasized. It is time for our digital society to forever include individuals of all abilities. The period of public comment is open for 180 days."

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296 comments

HAHAAAAA, acronyms (-1, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33056584)

Did the DoJ just get all POed about how their SOP didn't mention anything about taking OPP, and how it could land them in trouble with the NRA, the ACLU, and NAMBLA?

Good news...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056596)

I do believe it's good for disabled folks to have an alternate method of accessing a website. However, I hope this doesn't add red tape to the creation of websites that are only designed for a visual experience (e.g. flash based graphical interfaces).

As long as website owners are only required to present alternate experiences for disabled users, and not design websites so that it's the same experience for everyone, this will be a good change (and one that should already be taken care of by a good design).

Re:Good news...? (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 years ago | (#33056674)

I can understand that they have to make PUBLIC websites and information (state, federal, etc) accessible, but, this almost implies they are going to require that private business (eg the note about small business exceptions) HAVE to put their websites up to some form of handicapped accessible standards?!?!

WTF?

If a business doesn't cater to anyone handicapped (I guess it could happen), or just is ignorant enough to not do so and lose that business, that should be up to them.

No one is holding a gun to the person accessing a site, nor should they be holding a gun to a private business to cater to any specific crowd.

Re:Good news...? (1, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 4 years ago | (#33056698)

The Reversal of Freedoms Act of 1990 doesn't care about such things!

Re:Good news...? (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33056724)

Except that the ADA already requires certain businesses to make provisions for people with handicaps. For example, a hotel is required to have a wheelchair entrance, because it is a "public accommodation." Likewise, banks have to put braille on their ATMs, bus operators have to be able to handle people who have difficulty climbing stairs (to board the bus), etc. Why should websites be exempt from these requirements?

Re:Good news...? (2, Interesting)

cmiller173 (641510) | about 4 years ago | (#33056786)

... Likewise, banks have to put braille on their ATMs, ...

Even the drive up ones! Also braille on elevator buttons in the parking garage.

Re:Good news...? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 4 years ago | (#33056810)

Even the drive up ones!

It never occurred to you that blind people might ride as passengers in automobiles that visit drive up ATMs?

A better criticism of ATMs is the fact that the number pad has braille on it but the user interface still requires you to be able to read a screen (to know which button along the display does WITHDRAWAL/DEPOSIT/BALANCE INQUERY/etc) in order to operate the device.

Re:Good news...? (0, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33057134)

It never occurred to you that the ADA was the worst fucking law ever?

Re:Good news...? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33057240)

The passenger side of the vehicle can not reach a drive up ATM.

But it is cheaper to have one ATM design that gets used universally anyway.

Re:Good news...? (3, Informative)

Hutz (900771) | about 4 years ago | (#33056848)

They don't put braille on drive-up ATMs. They put braille on ATMs. They don't make different keys depending on where you're installing the unit.

Re:Good news...? (1)

tofubeer (1746800) | about 4 years ago | (#33057062)

I have met two people in my life that drive and use wheel chairs. They whole idea freaks me out... but they can drive and they need wheel chairs to move around.

Re:Good news...? (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 4 years ago | (#33056822)

Why should websites be exempt from these requirements?

Because I shouldn't have to hire a lawyer to make sure I'm complaint with thousands of pages of State and Federal regulations when I publish a webpage?

Re:Good news...? (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33056882)

Well for one, it is not clear that all websites would be required to do this, and for another, it is not terribly hard to be compliant...well, unless you are one of those people who insists on using Flash and Javascript for every damned thing, and considers creating a less "feature filled" version of your webpage to be an undue burden.

Re:Good news...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33057034)

Actually, it is clear that not all websites would be required to do this. One just has to keep reading the DoJ documents.

Re:Good news...? (3, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 4 years ago | (#33057072)

Yes, and because we're 100% sure that the oh-so-enlightened Obama administration would never, ever use such a provision to quell free speech rights (unlike that bad ole' satan-worshiping Bush). It's going to be a total coincidence that "Justice" department lawyers only contact Web site owners who publish views opposed to the current administration's policies.

This year, they've contacted the NRA about their non-compliant Web site, while ignoring NOW. Once the sheeple vote in 2012, they'll be harassing PETA and ignoring the Chamber of Commerce.

In fact, I've been shocked, shocked! to find out that the Democrats are owned by lobbyists just like the Republicans. Not the SAME lobbyists, of course, but just as much a wholly owned subsidiary. Whodda thunk it?

Re:Good news...? (5, Insightful)

BenFranske (646563) | about 4 years ago | (#33056888)

Maybe because the web is a medium and not a place?

I'm all for requiring public physical places to be designed with the needs of the disabled in mind. This only makes sense and I think has made a tremendous difference for both the legally disabled and our generally aging population but I don't think the web is the equivalent of a public place. I think it's a medium more akin to a newspaper or book.

Would it make sense to REQUIRE all book publishers to publish extra copies in braille for example? I can certainly see the value of regulations which said that if the publisher (or website author) doesn't do it themselves a third-party service provider must not be prevented from (legally) making the information accessible but to require all websites to do it themselves would put a huge burden on website authors and may just cause a lot of people to stop putting information on the web unless they need to or their is a compelling commercial reason to do so.

Let's look at a project to scan in material from old books and make it available in image/pdf format for research. If the information were required to be accessible it would add a significant amount of work and cost to the (already expensive) digitization process. In my own case where I am putting up some very specific historic and technical material which I am making no money on I might just stop doing it. This would be a net loss for the spread of knowledge.

These types of regulations work best when they encourage people to do the right thing but do NOT just stop anything from happening. eg. If people stopped building public places because of the expense of ADA compliance the ADA would not make sense on a societal level as public places have value. The same goes for websites.

Re:Good news...? (1, Troll)

squallbsr (826163) | about 4 years ago | (#33056984)

I don't know about you, but my online banking website doesn't look, act or feel like a book or magazine. There is a definite difference between a content web site and a web application.

I personally don't have an issue with requiring accessibility for most sites (as long as you can provide an accessible alternative to your content or web app) - the tools they do use need to be updated more often. Some of the screen readers require IE6.

Re:Good news...? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056974)

Because there's a significant difference between a business with capital for a physical presence and one based on the web.

What's more, rather than modifying a particular feature - e.g., modifying the entrance to have a ramp, modifying buttons with letters on them to have another set of letters on them -- we're talking about forcing translation of one form of content to another. This is in many cases, absolutely ridiculous. If I have a website for a painting gallery, sorry, but spending the extra time to change the pictures to words or requiring the removal of interactive animations (as horrible as they usually are, sometimes they're good) is a completely unnecessary burden. If a record label has a website, sorry, but deaf people aren't their audience. If my company develops audio or visual apps that don't make sense for deaf or blind people, then requiring my company to spend the extra time to cater to this non-audience is idiotic and wasteful.

And as difficult as it is for websites to survive based solely on ad revenues, this will make it that much harder.

Re:Good news...? (2, Insightful)

butlerm (3112) | about 4 years ago | (#33057012)

Why should websites be exempt from these requirements?

It depends on how broadly you draw "public accommodation". Take computer software in general, for example. Should the government ban the release of software (open source software in particular) that does not have special support for those with disabilities? What if instead it is provided as software as a service? Does an SAS application become a public accommodation just because it is free? What if it isn't?

Like many things, the reasonability of such requirements depends on how strict they are and how hard they are to implement. Banning websites like Google Maps on the grounds of inaccessibility would be pernicious. But there might be something an online mapping application could do that would make it somewhat more accessible. If the government does not draw the requirements with some considerable care, they could become fodder for decades of lawsuits.

Drawn carefully though, I think such requirements would be a good idea. An online travel ticket / reservation site is an excellent example of what should properly be considered a public accomodation. As should most sites that offer goods for sale, or provide reference information. Websites run by businesses should be held to a stricter standard than free services provided by individuals, though.

Re:Good news...? (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 4 years ago | (#33056746)

If a business doesn't cater to anyone handicapped (I guess it could happen), or just is ignorant enough to not do so and lose that business, that should be up to them.

STFU and do what the Federal Government wants citizen.

Re:Good news...? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 4 years ago | (#33056896)

I can understand that they have to make PUBLIC websites and information (state, federal, etc) accessible, but, this almost implies they are going to require that private business...

That ship sailed a long time ago [wikipedia.org] .

By the way, don't expect any small business exemption to last forever. That's what regulations are for after all: to tilt the playing field in favor of large corporations at the expense of small independent businesses.

I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (5, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 4 years ago | (#33056948)

If a business doesn't cater to anyone handicapped (I guess it could happen), or just is ignorant enough to not do so and lose that business, that should be up to them. No one is holding a gun to the person accessing a site, nor should they be holding a gun to a private business to cater to any specific crowd.

Ding ding ding.

In my hometown, a hardware store couldn't afford to put in an ADA-compliant ramp for the one guy in town who used a wheelchair. When they said as much, he sued. The store, in the family for 2 generations, closed down because the owner couldn't carry the expense of the loan he needed for building the ramp- and the cost of the lawsuit. Result: he ended up working for nearly minimum wage at Walmart and couldn't afford to put his daughters through college. Another result: his two employees lost their jobs. The landlord lost a tenant (the store sat unoccupied for 2 years, in part because everyone knew that the first business to move in would get sued for not having an ADA-compliant ramp.)

He was not alone. [google.com]

Some people just seem to forget that the world doesn't owe them anything. If you're injured or born without the ability to walk, that's nobody's problem except your own. "How cruel", you say. But where do we stop in defining disabilities? If I have autism, does that mean I can sue a store for being too noisy and crowded? If I have a peanut allergy, does a Thai restaurant have to give you a hermetically sealed room and special food stored, prepared, and cooked away from everything else?

Move to a city where businesses can afford good handicapped access. Hire someone to spend an hour each week getting your groceries. There are hundreds of solutions other than forcing your problems onto others.

Re:I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 4 years ago | (#33056998)

In my hometown, a hardware store couldn't afford to put in an ADA-compliant ramp for the one guy in town who used a wheelchair. When they said as much, he sued. The store, in the family for 2 generations, closed down because the owner couldn't carry the expense of the loan he needed for building the ramp- and the cost of the lawsuit.

Home Depot lost a competitor and WalMart gained a low wage employee. Sounds like the ADA is functioning perfectly.

Re:I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (0, Troll)

cowscows (103644) | about 4 years ago | (#33057214)

I find it amazing that a family that had run a hardware store for 2 generations couldn't just build their own ramp. A handicap ramp doesn't need to be made of titanium and carbon fiber, plywood and 2X6's will work just fine. If they didn't have the space due to the way the building was situated on the street/property line/etc, then there are various rules in the law to help deal with that/grandfather in older buildings. If the rules were ignored when they originally built the place, then it's hard to feel sorry for them. Although if it was a rented space, then shouldn't the landlord have been responsible for it?

Re:I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (3, Interesting)

kingduct (144865) | about 4 years ago | (#33057232)

This just isn't the truth. The ADA requires reasonable accommodations - solutions that make sense and are affordable. In the case of a big business, this would definitely mean installing the ramp. In the case of a small business, this would mean finding a workable solution, that could be a ramp or could be a small staircase elevator, or could be having a call button that calls a couple of employees to lift the wheelchair user into the store. There are many different solutions that are possible, and as we know, there are still many businesses that don't have staircases. There are numerous resources available on the subject: http://www.adata.org/ [adata.org]

In the case of new buildings, they should be designed in the first place to be usable for everyone. It doesn't add much extra expense and the end result is generally positive for all (I certainly notice ramps a lot more now that I have a baby in a stroller). In the case of websites, design that is accessible for blind users and other people with disabilities is generally good for all -- think of well designed css, avoiding distracting design (that is bad for people with learning disabilities), good usage of appropriate image descriptions, etc. It costs essentially nothing extra to include those in a new website and everyone can appreciate it.

Frankly, if adding a little staircase elevator or having a ramp or finding another solution was so expensive that it put the store out of business, I think maybe this guy's business problems were a little bigger than he described them.

Re:I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (3, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#33057278)

The landlord lost a tenant

If he was renting the building, isn't it the landlord's responsibility to to install the ramp?

Re:I know businesses that ended because of the ADA (0, Flamebait)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 4 years ago | (#33057356)

In my hometown, a hardware store couldn't afford to put in an ADA-compliant ramp

If you can't afford an ADA-compliant ramp you've got bigger problems than wheelchair accessibility. It isn't like they're crafted out of solid gold or anything like that. Most of the family-owned places around here just have simple wooden ramps.

he ended up working for nearly minimum wage at Walmart and couldn't afford to put his daughters through college. Another result: his two employees lost their jobs.

Some people just seem to forget that the world doesn't owe them anything. If you're unemployed, that's nobody's problem except your own. Move to a city where you can find a job.

The landlord lost a tenant (the store sat unoccupied for 2 years, in part because everyone knew that the first business to move in would get sued for not having an ADA-compliant ramp.)

Seriously?

Nobody could afford to build a ramp? Not the landlord, none of the prospective renters? None of them?

But where do we stop in defining disabilities? If I have autism, does that mean I can sue a store for being too noisy and crowded? If I have a peanut allergy, does a Thai restaurant have to give you a hermetically sealed room and special food stored, prepared, and cooked away from everything else?

Of course the line has to be drawn somewhere.

And maybe it isn't drawn in a good place now.

I don't know. I'm able-bodied and could do just fine without the ADA right now, so I honestly haven't given it much thought.

But guidelines about ramps and braille lettering are useful for an awful lot of people. Hell, you don't even have to be straight-up disabled to appreciate a ramp... When I was moving out of our old apartment it was awfully nice to be able to wheel a dolly in and out, right up the ramp. And when I broke my leg it was far easier navigating ramps with my crutches than stairs.

Re:Good news...? (1)

tofubeer (1746800) | about 4 years ago | (#33057042)

*** for this think wheel chair ramps and the like ***

I can understand that they have to make PUBLIC buildings and locations (state, federal, etc) accessible, but, this almost implies they are going to require that private business (eg the note about small business exceptions) HAVE to put their places up to some form of handicapped accessible standards?!?!

WTF?

If a business doesn't cater to anyone handicapped (I guess it could happen), or just is ignorant enough to not do so and lose that business, that should be up to them.

No one is holding a gun to the person accessing a building, nor should they be holding a gun to a private business to cater to any specific crowd.

There is a reason why such things exist. It is to ensure that all persons have free access to things. For example black people and the front of a bus etc...

Re:Good news...? (1)

ceiling9 (1241316) | about 4 years ago | (#33057246)

The problem is that if there aren't enough disabled folks, then no businesses will have any motive to serve them, so the handicapped people will be severely limited in their options. Apparently when all things are considered, requiring businesses to be more accessible is viewed as being less of an infringement of freedom than completely preventing disabled people from functioning in society.

Re:Good news...? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33056862)

The ADA doesn't force record shops to offer only products that can be enjoyed by the deaf. So I don't see any reason why it would require web cartoonists to offer only products that can be enjoyed by the blind. Just put some fucking alt-text in there and make it navigable by screen reader. Yes, that should be taken care of by good design, but precious few people care about good design.

So now the web will go back to looking like 1990? (3, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 years ago | (#33056608)

Except without the spinning gifs and animated backgrounds and lame MIDI loops?

SOLD!

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33056772)

I agree with it; governments SHOULD be accessible to all. Note this doesn't cover private web sites. Most private web sites (by "private" I mean non-government) are shooting themselves in the foot if their sites aren't readily accessible to everyone.

Er, I must plead guilty, though. My Quake site (1997-2003) had spinning gifs (but not where they would interfere wiht reading the text), the background animated while loading (a Matrix-like pattern of ones and zeros that moved and disappeared), and no Midi loop, but a .wav of an edited to 20 second theme from the game. Rounded corners... But it was geared to the games Quake and Quake II, so it wasn't out of place. And it was accessible to the blind; I wrote the HTML and javascript in such a way that screen readers should have been able to parse, and images all had ALT tags.

OMFG, I created web 2.0. What have I done?? Please forgive me everybody! I promise never to do it again!

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (3, Funny)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33056812)

Yeah, right. Next you'll tell us that Windows 7 was your idea.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (0)

logjon (1411219) | about 4 years ago | (#33056874)

It does cover private websites just like the ADA and various smoking bans cover private businesses. Do they care about your Quake website? No, but do keep in mind that there's a difference between 'private,' in the non-government sense, and 'personal.' 'Personal' websites are the ones that won't be affected.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33056924)

I agree with it; governments SHOULD be accessible to all. Note this doesn't cover private web sites. Most private web sites (by "private" I mean non-government) are shooting themselves in the foot if their sites aren't readily accessible to everyone.

The same arguement could be made for handicapped spaces. Public (as you define it) should have such spaces, but I argue that the extreme requirements created a lucrative litigation ecosystem surrounding it that truly doesn't serve the needs of either the handicapped or the businesses.

I just wish the regulations were less strict especially when I see certain businesses with a dozen empty parking spaces or the moral crusaders who get pissed off at seeing a 25 year old park in a handicapped space. (Yes, Mr. called the police, a 25 year old can have had surgery and have a temporary placard, it isn't just for the morbidly obese and octogenarians.)

Not sure if I had a point to this rant. I guess it's just in areas where you could have flexibile handicapped spaces. IE: for a residential building, it doesn't make any sense if you have handicapped spaces if none of the residents are handicapped, and that if requested, a temporary handicap space could be designated for guests (if parking is really that tight) or semi-permanently added if it is for one of the residents.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (4, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 4 years ago | (#33057210)

The real problem with the current system (IMO) is that--as always--regulation and government-created scarcity has lead to efforts to game the system and unintended consequences out the wazoo.

This results in things like a morbidly obese patient slipping the doctor a $100 and getting a handicapped placard. So the fatty who most needs to walk the extra 100 ft a week now parks as close to the ice cream aisle as possible. Or to people either holding on to their placards after they've expired or making fake ones.

When I worked in construction in L.A (putting myself through college) with my dad's company I saw two projects canceled because of the cost of complying with the ADA. One was a parking structure where the powers-that-be decided that it wasn't sufficient to have the "correct" number of handicapped spaces on the ground level--there must be an elevator in case some handicapped person parked in a non-handicapped spot on the 2nd floor and couldn't use the stairs.

Unintended consequences, my friends: it's the gift of government that keeps on giving and giving and giving.

And you can be sure that any effort to label the Web as a "public accommodation" will be evenhandedly applied by whichever of our two corrupt parties is currently in power. They'd never even think of using the "Justice" Department to harass website owners whose sites are ideologically opposed. Never, ever... pinky-swear, cross their hearts and hope to die.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

jridley (9305) | about 4 years ago | (#33056816)

And just imagine - there will at least have to be a way to navigate all sites WITHOUT FLASH.

WITHOUT FLASH MAN!!!!

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33056886)

More likely there will be a wave of tools to facilitate making two versions of a web site and maintaining them in parallel. The marketing drones aren't likely to release their stranglehold on the web and let its original concept breath any time soon.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#33057196)

More likely there will be a wave of tools to facilitate making two versions of a web site and maintaining them in parallel.

That's even better. That way, sighted users can use the clean, easy-to-use blind version as well!

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 4 years ago | (#33056892)

Good lord, no. I saw lots of websites in the 90s that were the opposite of good disabled-accessible design. Flashing red text on a green background? Try reading that if you are colorblind. Consistent and flagrant misuse of tables to format text? Ugh. Way to mess up a html reader.

Unfortunately, taking a page that was poorly designed and redoing it to be more accessible often means (in my humble experience, anyway) rewriting much of it.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33056962)

Try reading that if you are colorblind

Actually it's quite simple, grey on darker grey. I feel sorry for the people who aren't colorblind, look at the red/green text, and wish that THEY were colorblind.

But don't worry, being colorblind isn't considered a disability. Even though you will be disqualified from a growing list of jobs.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33057044)

The most common form of colorblindness is inability to distinguish red from green. Most other forms of colorblindness likewise involve specific pairs of colors being indistinguishable. From your comment it sounds like you see only shades of grey; that would be an extremely rare condition and is far from what is typically meant by the word "colorblind".

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33057150)

The most common form of colorblindness is inability to distinguish red from green. Most other forms of colorblindness likewise involve specific pairs of colors being indistinguishable. From your comment it sounds like you see only shades of grey; that would be an extremely rare condition and is far from what is typically meant by the word "colorblind".

Yeah but if I said all that it would have ruined the joke.

Re:So now the web will go back to looking like 199 (1)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33056990)

Yes, but even that blinking red on green text was conveyed to your browser in a format easy for a screen-reader to pick up. Today I've seen companies in the healthcare industry (i.e. who should expect to deal with a lot of older people with deteriorating vision) use white-on-light-blue raster images to display text. (No, they didn't use alt tags. Yes, it would be retarded even if they had.)

read as ADA for web (2, Funny)

Paul Rose (771894) | about 4 years ago | (#33056612)

read headline as ADA for web -- immediately thought they were going to push an interpreted ADA as a Javascript replacement -- need more sleep

Regulations.gov page isn't remotely 508-compliant (4, Insightful)

syntap (242090) | about 4 years ago | (#33056638)

and yet they are collecting comments on establishing more standards that go beyond 508?

Most of the pics aren't tagged, the graphical navigation tabs are useless to a screen reader, and the page is full of popup javascript.

It contains an enbedded alert that may be read off by an interpreter: "Regulations.gov will undergo a scheduled maintenance outage and will be unavailable Saturday September 19, 2009, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (ET)" Thanks for wasting time with last year's outage info.

Come on, can't government provide GOOD examples of accessible resources ESPECIALLY when gathering suggestions for how current rules and regs can be improved?

Re:Regulations.gov page isn't remotely 508-complia (2, Informative)

syntap (242090) | about 4 years ago | (#33056694)

I should clarify: ALT tags exist for many of the pictures but they aren't useful tags. One is "close". As in close the door? As in close but no cigar? Tagging a pic with "logo" doesn't tell the user what distinguishes it from other logos.

Re:Regulations.gov page isn't remotely 508-complia (1)

swb (14022) | about 4 years ago | (#33056910)

Son, the job of the bureaucracy is to CREATE regulations, NOT follow them.

Re:Regulations.gov page isn't remotely 508-complia (1)

metiscus (1270822) | about 4 years ago | (#33057052)

The first thing government tends to do after creating regulations is to grant itself exemptions from the same.

More usual acronym for that is an ANOPR. (1)

WOV (652967) | about 4 years ago | (#33056640)

"Ay - Nope - Er."

End of the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056648)

While the ADA rules are a good thing in general, this looks like a "DCMA" type application. Publish a website and if its not "friendly" to the impaired -- visual or auditory -- you will get caught in DOJ investigation.

Re:End of the internet (1)

Sinistar2k (225578) | about 4 years ago | (#33057354)

First, it's DMCA. Second, the DoJ doesn't often initiate actions against ADA offenders. That's usually left to individual plaintiffs. For example, http://jimthatcher.com/law-target.htm

Some disabilities are more equal than others. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056658)

Those with sight and hearing loss stand to benefit the most from this. Those with profound mental retardation? Not so much.

before that geocities... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 years ago | (#33056736)

there's always facebook

Re:Some disabilities are more equal than others. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33056870)

Screen readers can help the "reading impaired" aspect. Voice recognition can improve the "writing/typing impaired" aspect.

But what, other than direct supervision by an experienced caregiver, can be done to "improve the web experience" for someone with profound mental retardation?

With all due respect, some people are more equal than others.

The blind, deaf and paralyzed have normal mental capabilities, their handicap lies in the information channel between their minds and the rest of the world.

Providing alternate channels or improving the signal in a channel to enable them to use their faculties is perfectly viable.

Good for AIs too (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 4 years ago | (#33056660)

This is good news for AIs all over the web. A web site that is ADA compliant is much easier for a program to navigate than one that requires screen scraping and OCR. The bad news is that botnets can also run AIs, and making government information more available will make things easier for scammers.

This is a legitimate reason to hate Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056672)

Never mind the Apple/iOS lacking Flash flamewar... this is THE reason Flash should be eliminated as soon as possible.

Flash sites are almost universally hostile to anyone using a screen reader or other accessibility device. The sooner we can do away with Flash, if only so that blind people are on an equal footing on the web, the better.

creators consider # of survivors to be cared for.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056758)

after the newclear powered big flash, which isn't going to hurt anyone. the survivor/body count will be required due to our propensity to destroy each other/everything.

like nothing anyone has ever seen. don't miss it. oh yeah, almost forgot (magnetic waves & stuff), nobody, anywhere, is going to miss 'it'. see you there.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056784)

So like...I need to put ramps on my blog now?

Just add cost (1)

strikeleader (937501) | about 4 years ago | (#33056790)

It's a good thing our governments have money to burn during this prosperous time. I am all for access to the handicapped, but how much will this cost tax payers.

Re:Just add cost (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 4 years ago | (#33056934)

how much will this cost tax payers.

I'm guessing just about enough money to fight the war in Iraq for 5 minutes. Auditing and recoding government websites will probably cost several million dollars, but that's peanuts compared to most government spending, and it's more than worth it to make sure disabled people have access to the government they help pay for.

Re:Just add cost (1)

strikeleader (937501) | about 4 years ago | (#33057234)

I'm sure that your logic is comforting to all the state, city, town, and municipalities in the country. Why is it that if doesn't cost as much as the war that it is OK to spend money.
That is the same logic when a spouse spends money that is not in the budget but justifies it by saying that it was on sale. Regardless how you look at it someone (taxpayers’) have to pay for everything our governments do. When does fiscal responsibility come into play?

Re:Just add cost (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 4 years ago | (#33057314)

But in terms of economic drag (let's spare readers the broken window fallacy, for the moment) how much will forcing compliance on non-government sites cost? For instance, if every small business in America (see "possible exemption for small businesses" in TFS for relevance) has to comply, what more profitable use of their time/money will they be missing out on? What's the opportunity cost here? If a business doesn't see a need to create a ADA-compliant version of their site, should they be compelled? If the manufacturer of automotive accessories doesn't think that the cost of re-coding their site for accessibility to blind people isnt' likely to be offset by sales, will the government use force to change their tune? Keep in mind that force, clothed in the glove of our civil law, but nonetheless a mailed fist, is what compels compliance.

First step (3, Insightful)

MadGeek007 (1332293) | about 4 years ago | (#33056806)

Before they can even think about making their web sites accessible for those with disabilities, they need to make the sites accessible for the general public. Nearly every time I have needed to find some information at the state level, I've had to sort through pages of outdated info, buried 4 or more links deep. I can only imagine what this process is like through a screen reader or other adaptive technology.

ADA-yay! (1)

oldpelican (639978) | about 4 years ago | (#33056830)

Put the On-Off switch for the box on the keyboard. Apple is really bad about hiding switches and stuff. BTW, I am so disabled that folks are waiting for the movie rather than read the manual.

Re:ADA-yay! (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 4 years ago | (#33057362)

I'm have 20-20 sight (corrected) and a fine sense of touch but I have to hunt for the power button on my wife's iMac. Not that it gets turned on/off all that often, but the power switch seems to have been professionally hidden/disguised.

Sick of Political Correctness (0, Flamebait)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 4 years ago | (#33056902)

Hi, I am deaf. I would like to sue EMI, Sony, Universal etc. so that they make music more accessible to people such as myself.

Hi, I am blind. I would like to sue Sony, Universal, Warner, and especially Playboy, etc. so that they make movies and magazines more accessible to people such as myself.

Hi, I am a human. I would like to sue God, the Creator, etc. so that they make me into a space dwelling, universe traveling, immortal, so that everything in existence is more accessible to people such as myself.

Hi, I'm ground.zero.612. I would like to say that my life is filled with what I consider my fair share of hardships and disappointments. I have learned that I am different than others, and that my abilities and disabilities do not always mesh.

Everyone cannot do everything they think and dream. IMHO it is a wasted endeavor trying to appease people's pipe dreams. In other words "oh no the handicaps can't use something designed from the ground up to be used by the not handicapped."

On a related note, I am looking for seed capital to begin the design and production of my quadriplegic accessible extension ladders. Any takers?

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 4 years ago | (#33056976)

You are making the mistake of assuming that the purpose of regulations is to serve those that they claim to protect or assist.

Regulations exist to give one type of business a competitive advantage over another.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | about 4 years ago | (#33057020)

I thought the purpose of regulations was to give control and a sense of power to the regulator.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 4 years ago | (#33057100)

They sure do love that, but these things would never get passed unless the individuals that fund politicians' releection campaigns didn't want them.

Do you really think that a regulation that affects a "too big to fail [opensecrets.org] " bank or a corporation like GE will get passed into law unless it gives them a competitive advantage?

The "please don't throw me into the briar patch" routine is strictly for the benefit of the voters.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (2, Interesting)

chill (34294) | about 4 years ago | (#33057000)

Uh, there is a braille version of Playboy. Issues of Playboy printed in braille have been published by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped since 1970.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 4 years ago | (#33057028)

Uh, there is a braille version of Playboy. Issues of Playboy printed in braille have been published by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped since 1970.

Mod parent interesting! I always wondered what those mound shaped Playboy publications were for...

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

butlerm (3112) | about 4 years ago | (#33057082)

Apparently not by the publishers of Playboy themselves though. Of course if the magazine were offered as an online service, the problem would largely be eliminated. No secondary re-publishing required.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33057236)

Braille porno [blogspot.com]

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

BZ (40346) | about 4 years ago | (#33057036)

The thing is that there's no good reason for a web page to be "designed from the ground up to be used by the not handicapped". In fact, the original design of the web is quite amenable to use by people who may be blind, for example.

Since I fully expect that some government websites will become required-to-use (by law) in the next decade or so (e.g. as it becomes impossible to get most IRS forms other than off the IRS website), those websites need to be accessible to everyone. The other option, of course is NOT requiring them to be used, but we're not heading that way as far as I can see.

Of course in the real world there are compromises; no one is suggesting that the IRS site be accessible to someone who is deaf, blind, and quadraplegic, if nothing else because the technology to do it via smell is simply not there. ;) But making a reasonable effort to not exclude people who are blind or just nearsighted (e.g. by not using 5pt fonts; lots of nearsighted people there) or colorblind (a fairly large number of people there) doesn't seem unreasonable.

Or put another way, what's the point of a government website if a large fraction of its target audience can't use it? Perhaps the information should then be shared in some other way, not via the web.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

cowscows (103644) | about 4 years ago | (#33057074)

This isn't political correctness, this is basic human compassion as well as practicality. We're talking about adding basic accessibility to some web services that are quickly becoming a practical necessity in our society. A blind person shouldn't expect to pilot a fighter jet, but it's not unreasonable for them to expect to be able to pay their water bill online.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33057092)

The ADA has nothing to do with making ridiculous accommodations. The requirements are sane and help ensure that people with disabilities can still function as members of our society; wheelchair ramps, braille on ATMs, lifts and elevators in public transportation. Given the fact that certain critical services are now accessed through the web (e.g. banking), it is both reasonable and logical to require certain websites to provide accessibility for people who have vision problems or who have difficulty handling a mouse/keyboard.

Or should someone be excluded from paying bills online because they happen to be disabled?

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33057268)

Or should someone be excluded from paying bills online because they happen to be disabled?

The profit to be made from making bill-paying disabled-accessible far outweighs the cost of implementing it, therefore any sane business will do so. It doesn't need the force of law to make it happen. Note I'm talking about private entities here; the government of course has no profit motive, so by all means, craft regulations for government websites, as it's the only way to give them feedback they can't ignore.

BUT BUT BUT you are SO WRONG! (2, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | about 4 years ago | (#33057108)

You are being SO FREAKING unfair,

"In 1970, Playboy became the first gentleman's magazine to be printed in braille."

and they deserve SERIOUS kudos for that..

they have been doing it for 40! years, and you just GUESSED that they were in default?
Damn man.. give Playboy their props.. who the hell cared about the disabled in the 70's?

Playboy, thats who....

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

Sinistar2k (225578) | about 4 years ago | (#33057154)

You are sick of political correctness because you are not adversely affected by the lack of it.

My 8 year old kid with cerebral palsy benefits every day from the ADA, medical assistance, school systems forced to treat him like a human being, and the market for niche medical equipment that has blossomed as a result.

Perhaps he should have just accepted that he was different and sat there staring off into space, awash in his drool, instead of partaking in a life full of experiences.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33057206)

Hi, I am a cyclist. I would like to sue all the places I regularly shop that don't have a bicycle rack easily accessible in front of the store. Sometimes I'm reduced to chaining my bicycle to the pole on a parking sign, made to lose my dignity. It should be illegal not to have a decent bike rack in front of a store.

Re:Sick of Political Correctness (4, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | about 4 years ago | (#33057230)

Yeah, this isn't about the deaf being able to hear music.

This is about every citizen having equal access to government, for example.

If you don't know the difference, then I think I've figured out what your particular disability is.

Your insinuation that everyone gets their "fair share" of harship and that this is no different for, say, a blind person than anyone else... yeah, that's nothing short of laughable.

Now it woudl be easy to assume that you have no physical disability based on your comment. Alternately its possible that you have some (most likely minor) issue that your extremely proud of overcoming "on your own", in which case I guarantee there are ways you haven't even thought of that your daily life is affected. Either way, I'm willing to bet you have at least pretty good use of your eyes, ears, and arms.

So try this: if I'm right that you have use of your eyes, go through one day wearing a blindfold. All day. No peaking, for any reason. Now imagine doing that every day of your life.

If you don't have use of your eyes, then instead try going through a day having immobilized your writing-hand arm in a sling. Again, no use of that arm for any reason.

Then we can haev a conversation about your "fair share" of hardship.

Link to Comment (1)

unixcorn (120825) | about 4 years ago | (#33056908)

I was going to comment until, while adding my personal data, I noticed that the state pull-down was alphabetized incorrectly. Now, I am not perfect but if I was browsing anywhere else I would immediately be worried I was at a site for harvesting personal information and not a government entity.

Re:Link to Comment (1)

luckyXIII (698285) | about 4 years ago | (#33057156)

I went to the site to see what the problem was and found that's it's the exact opposite of what I was expecting. I often see state dropdowns that show the 2 letter code but are alphabetized based on the the full name (ie: VT comes before VA because Vermont comes before Virginia). This is the first time I've seen one display the full name but be alphabetized based on the abbreviation.

What Level of Disability? (1)

Hutz (900771) | about 4 years ago | (#33056918)

The largest problem with the ADA is that it never defined what a disability was. There are people with mental disabilities. Does your website have to be edited to a 3rd grade level?

What if someone is illiterate?

What if they don't speak English?

What if someone is physically unable to click - how will a website cater to that need?

There has been software to read websites to the blind for years, how will this differ?

Re:What Level of Disability? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 4 years ago | (#33057164)

What if someone is physically unable to click - how will a website cater to that need?

By not requiring a mouse? Most web browsers all you to navigate using the arrow keys. Of course, this means that websites may be required to not use Flash (which cannot be navigated with a keyboard only) for every damned thing, or at least provide an option for no-Flash -- the horror!

Re:What Level of Disability? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33057342)

Of course, this means that websites may be required to not use Flash (which cannot be navigated with a keyboard only)

The ability to move a pointer on a 2 dimensional screen does not require the use of a mouse. It might be easier with a mouse, but the human interface device could be almost anything and flash wouldn't care.

Re:What Level of Disability? (1)

Sinistar2k (225578) | about 4 years ago | (#33057304)

Sure they have: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/902cm.html

Illiteracy by itself is not a disability unless it is closely tied to a learning impairment. Nor is knowledge of the English language.

People who are physically unable to click (by this you mean click a mouse button?) have had options for a while: sip/puff switches; eye gaze/blink; touch screens compatible with mouth-held stylus.

Screen readers are only as successful as the web site they're reading. The new regulations would likely build on the Section 508 and WAI standards to ensure that all sites of public accommodations would be reader compatible.

The biggest challenges are for heavy users of Flash and AJAX who have likely not spent any time considering accessibility.

this-can-only-end-well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33056944)

Wanna bet?

So much for Flash (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 4 years ago | (#33057030)

I guess Apple was just ahead of the regulatory curve.

Three-for-one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33057038)

It seems like a no-brainer to make applications and websites more usable with assistive technologies. Why? Because when you do you get a three-for-one.

1) It's just a nice thing to do for people with disabilities. And if you're a business, that's a small but not insubstantial part of the population that your competitors may be ignoring.

2) It makes you more visible to search engines, agents, and other "semantic web" "users". A lot of the information added to web pages for the sake of assistive technologies also serves as the semantic information that automated crawlers love for figuring out exactly what your web page is. More semantic info makes you Google's BFF.

3) It makes automation easier. Most automation programs use the same interfaces as assistive technologies. The easier it is for assistive technologies to use your application, the easier it is to automate. Reduce maintenance time for your test automation and improve your accessibility at the same time!

If all you need to do to get these benefits is add a little bit of hidden information, why wouldn't you do it?

Summary Plagiarized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33057046)

Summary content copied verbatim from http://webaim.org/blog/dept-of-justice-considers-web-for-ada/ without attribution. Shame on you, beetle496!

Are Pr0n websites covered by ADA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33057050)

Because I, ah, have a friend who might be interested in hearing the blow-by-blow description of what's going on.

Finally, sites that cater to my Flashphobia (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33057056)

It will be a great day that I can view a website and not suffer an adverse reaction to all the Flash content. Symptoms include confusion and rage at the creator of the site.

ADA Compliance = total busines, not website (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33057094)

Using the logic they are proposing here, restaurants should not be allowed to have printed menus because some people can't see them, not allowed to have audio menus because some people can't hear them, not be allowed, in short, to have any menu short of a computer that can adapt to any combination of disability. That's simply wrong. Restaurants must allow everyone to order and be served but it's insane to think they would use the same media or tools for each.

The DOJ is wrong, and they are also outside the letter and spirit of the ADA. The ADA requires that those with disabilities have a means of access. It does not state that every means of interaction must be open to all.

A website provides information to people who can see and read. If you can't do that, call. If you can't do that, have someone do it for you.

A business (or anyone subject to the ADA) should provide access to all... but a website is just part of the business's compliance tool set. They can have the most accessible website on the 'net and still be out of ADA compliance, or they can have the least accessible and be totally in compliance with the ADA.

Having clueless people at the DOJ make up nonsensical rules is NOT a good thing. Post your comments against this ill-conceived effort now.

Great for disabilities, bad for property rights (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33057112)

This is amazing news! The impact that this will have for individuals with disabilities cannot be expressed.

It'll be great for those it benefits, but what about the further infringement on the right of a person to put what they please on their own website? If they don't cater to a particular audience, that audience doesn't have to visit the site. Not that this is specific to this aspect of the ADA; the same applies to brick-and-mortar stores as well. What gives anyone the right to use legal force against a business owner who doesn't configure his property so that it caters to particular people?

(Here come the negative mods in 3...2...1...)

Closed captions for internet streaming video. (1)

flerchin (179012) | about 4 years ago | (#33057130)

Video that is streamed over the internet, that would be required to have closed captions if transmitted over the airwaves, should be required to transmit those captions.

Eg, NBC captions all (or almost all) of their content when broadcast, but only a limited selection of NBC content is captioned on hulu.com.

Even worse, Netflix (www.netflix.com) transmits content that almost universally has closed captioning data available, but transmits none of it when internet streaming.

Re:Closed captions for internet streaming video. (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33057276)

Video that is streamed over the internet, that would be required to have closed captions if transmitted over the airwaves, should be required to transmit those captions.

Eg, NBC captions all (or almost all) of their content when broadcast, but only a limited selection of NBC content is captioned on hulu.com.

Why should NBC be required to do that and bobsTVstation.com not be? Because they had the audacity to broadcast using EM waves once and therefore when they decide to do something on a completely different medium it should have the same regulations applied?

You want NBC to do that, and it might even be a nice feature, but what they do on the internet is not really something that should be regulated.

Web sites are NOT public accomodations! (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 4 years ago | (#33057160)

Only physical places can be public accomodations.
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