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Legislation To Make Web Devices Accessible To Disabled Users

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the we'll-tell-the-robotic-overlords-to-speak-up dept.

Government 274

pgmrdlm writes "In an effort to make web devices accessible to the disabled, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101), submitted by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 348 to 23. The related Senate bill has been introduced by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). Quoting Representative Markey's website: 'We've moved from Braille to Broadcast, from Broadband to the Blackberry. We've moved from spelling letters in someone's palm to the Palm Pilot. And we must make all of these devices accessible.' The Washington Post coverage notes, 'Some broadcasters put videos on the Internet with captions, but not all. That can make inaccessible everything from the political videos that are now common on the Web to pop culture clips that turn viral.' As someone who has 20/200 vision with my glasses on, I completely agree that the web has not been kind to individuals with various disabilities. But due to the size of the web, and the large number of different devices that access it, is it even possible to legislate something of this nature? Or should we rely on education and peer pressure on the various manufacturers?"

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Lameness filter (2, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273430)

I've heard that some sites even actively prevent users from making use of techniques such as LARGE PRINT. To rub it in, they call this a lameness filter.

Re:Lameness filter (3, Informative)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273452)

I've heard that most browsers come with a zoom feature so you can get print as large as you want.

Re:Lameness filter (5, Insightful)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273684)

The parent has an important point - accessibility is a two-pronged approach. Sometimes, it's appropriate to modify the world (Wheelchair Ramps, disabled bathrooms) and sometimes it's appropriate to rely on technology to help individual people (White canes, seeing-eye dogs). Mostly, they meet in the middle somewhere (hearing aid loops in cinemas are much less invasive than subtitling, and service most people with hearing difficulties). I think it's important not to get too carried away and actively hinder the lives of everyone in service of some token PC gesture that never gets used. Specifically, my office has retrofitted electric push-button door openers, which take several seconds per set of door on a very long corridor in a working environment fundamentally unsuited for wheelchair accessibility.

Re:Lameness filter (2, Informative)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273696)

browsers zoom feature

Try control with the mouse wheel.

Re:Lameness filter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274444)

browsers zoom feature

Try control with the mouse wheel.

Hey it works! Thanks

Re:Lameness filter (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273578)

Agreed. I tried posting in Braille, it says it looks too much like ascii art!

Eat your own dogfood, jerks (5, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273444)

Let's see: www.govtrack.us is not accessible. markey.house.gov is Joomla, ugh, definitely not accessible. How about showing the rest of us how it should be done before heaping yet another economy-destroying law on the productive class?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273488)

Let's see: www.govtrack.us is not accessible. markey.house.gov is Joomla, ugh, definitely not accessible. How about showing the rest of us how it should be done [...]

Thumb up on this one.

[...] before heaping yet another economy-destroying law on the productive class?

Thumbs and all the other fingers down on this one. What makes you believe that people with vision deficiency are non-productive?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273500)

What makes you believe he believes that? It's pretty obvious that "productive class" doesn't mean "as opposed to people with vision deficiency" but "as opposed to politicians".

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273614)

What makes you believe he believes that? It's pretty obvious that "productive class" doesn't mean "as opposed to people with vision deficiency" but "as opposed to politicians".

Because the way it's worded, I cannot exclude this meaning. But tell you what... I'd be happy to stand corrected by the original poster in this regard, as long as the intended meaning is non-ambiguously stated.

And, while at that, I'd be also happy to hear how some extra work to be done to make some sites accessible can be economy destruction, mainly in a time when the unemployment in IT is not quite low.

I'd be equally happy to ask apologies, would these apologies be necessary. What d'you think, is it fair enough?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (3, Informative)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273670)

If all media were required to be presented in all manner of forms so that anybody with any disability or who speaks any language could make use of it, everything would be extremely costly to create. that would be economic destruction, plain and simple.

even if it would employ thousands of otherwise unemployed translators, it would be a huge expense for little benefit.

should government websites be disabled-accessable? sure. public services? obviously.

news websites? questionable.

viral videos? christ, sometimes i wish i was disables so I COULDN'T be exposed to them...

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273768)

If all media were required to be presented in all manner of forms so that anybody with any disability or who speaks any language could make use of it, everything would be extremely costly to create. that would be economic destruction, plain and simple.

Does the bill require that "all media to be presented in all manner of forms so that anybody with any disability...."

should government websites be disabled-accessable? sure. public services? obviously.

Agreed.

news websites? questionable.

Maybe... I'd argue towards a positive answer.

viral videos? christ, sometimes i wish i was disables so I COULDN'T be exposed to them...

Sincerely empathize with you, however would you mind to check if the proposed bill asks to made them accessible as well?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (2, Insightful)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273762)

Where demand exists, web sites were made accessible already. Mandating accessibility is like building bridges to nowhere.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (2, Insightful)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273796)

Let me guess, you're the guy who, when asked if he'd like chicken or steak, says "Yes"? There's no reference - none at all - to the visually deficient.

As for economic destruction, check out "deadweight loss" and "broken windows fallacy" for reasons why government spending is not a panacea. Increased IT spending based on regulatory requirements necessarily means that the money that would have been spent on something that would build the core business is used to deal with regulation instead. Now, this might have sufficient societal benefit to be worth it, or it might not - but you have to look at costs, too.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273884)

Let me guess, you're the guy who, when asked if he'd like chicken or steak, says "Yes"?

Wrong guess.

There's no reference - none at all - to the visually deficient.

Apologies, I intended to say people with disabilities.

Now, this might have sufficient societal benefit to be worth it, or it might not - but you have to look at costs, too.

Cannot agree more. However from looking at the cost to economic destruction is a bit of a distance, isn't it?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (3, Insightful)

dlcarrol (712729) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274052)

Not really.

His argument was pretty straightforward, and can be restated this way: every cost that is not intrinsic to the core business (especially, as was noted, in a time of general economic distress) necessarily reduces the overall viability of the business. If catering to those with disabilities were profitable to companies, they would already be doing it. Since they are not already doing it, we must conclude that either (a) it is not profitable and is, therefore, economic destruction or (b) an unrealized gold mine.

For some company C, I'm sure that it will be (b) after they do some extensive capital improvements (just like the development of most real gold mines); for most companies, this will be a sinkhole.

And yes, the same logic applies to the ADA. Yes, I think it is neat-o that ramps, door widths, and the like allow those with reduced mobility to access pretty much any place they want. Perhaps the blossoming of such is a sign of a moral and considerate society. But bringing it about via coercion and then pretending that kindness and brotherly love are overflowing at the city gates is a bit rich.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273556)

Out of interest, has anyone ever done a study on whether the effort and money put into firstly creating the laws, secondly enforcing the laws, and thirdly coming into compliance with the laws has ever come anywhere near break even with regard to increased ability of the disabled back into the community? At which point does spending billions of dollars/pounds/euros/rubles on enabling our disadvantaged beyond that which life has given them no longer make any sense?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273654)

... has ever come anywhere near break even with regard to increased ability of the disabled back into the community?

Euthanasia is often cheaper than letting disabled people live.

Luckily not everything is measured by monetary gain. Unfortunately more and more is, for the sake of the almighty market.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273790)

Why do you want to impose your values on others? Why not let the disabled (or their caregivers) decide what to spend their money on?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273664)

At each point stopping short before assisting someone as Stephen Hawking [wikipedia.org] is justifiable (in any sense: moral, economical, whatever)?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (4, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273766)

I don't think Stephen Hawking regularly visits the pub around the corner from me, which is a listed building and had to spend tens of thousands of British Pounds putting in lifts and ramps, plus had multiple compliance inspections and certifications to handle. I don't think Stephen Hawkings regularly visited my old employer either, who had to spend thousands of British Pounds putting in a lift in its brand new office because they deigned to have an upper floor, while never having any employee or visitor who needed wheelchair access in the 8 years I worked there.

You can quote the exception to me all you want, and Hawking is just that, but the normal every day experience for these laws is a significant burden on certain persons and companies for little gain. At which point does it actually become acceptable to say "Look, you are disabled, you are different, and its not worth the cost of doing this - how about we look at it differently and stop trying to pretend that you have the same advantages in life that we non-disabled enjoy?".

I'm betting that last comment in the paragraph above is going to get me into hot water in this discussion...

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273866)

At which point does it actually become acceptable to say "Look, you are disabled, you are different, [...] - how about we look at it differently and stop trying to pretend that you have the same advantages in life that we non-disabled enjoy?".

Personally, agree with the first part. But there is a distance to infer that disabled people ask to be treated absolutely equal.

... and its not worth the cost of doing this...

Cannot agree with that, on multiple grounds:

  1. as I said above, I don't think the people with disabilities ask to be treated equally. In most of the cases (that I know), they only want to be included within the limits of what can be made accessible to them. I know the case of a blind person that argued and obtained the right to be educated as a veterinary nurse even the professional association wouldn't grant the right to profess: she was doing only to be more able to figure out if something is wrong with her old cat, without having to put a burden on family, neighbors, friends
  2. applying statistics to an individual case is never a good approach even when it comes to technical matters
  3. you won't know what you may miss if you don't try to include (to the best of your possibilities) other human beings in what you are doing. Potentially, you may miss a Hawkins, even if he didn't stop at the pub around the corner

I'm betting that last comment in the paragraph above is going to get me into hot water in this discussion...

Personally, I do appreciate the sincerity, even if it shows (in my opinion) a lack of understanding of the specific needs of people with disabilities: ignorance is not to blame, persisting in ignorance when you can do better is.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273976)

as I said above, I don't think the people with disabilities ask to be treated equally. In most of the cases (that I know), they only want to be included within the limits of what can be made accessible to them

"Within the limits of what can be made accessible to them" is what we are discussing here - yes, that doorway can be widened, yes those steps can be turned into ramps, yes those flagstones can be evened out. But when it costs several thousand pounds to do it...? How many disabled customers do you need through that door in order for it to make financial sense?

applying statistics to an individual case is never a good approach even when it comes to technical matters

But its not individual cases, its practically every case I have come across.

New build is easier to manage, but the cost of converting existing premises can be extravagant and that burden has to be borne by the business. If there was a huge market of disabled persons out there who would suddenly rush in to the newly accessible premises, then fine, but we are talking about the one or two chance visitations on average. We aren't doing this because it makes financial sense, we are doing it because of social acceptance and that is where I have an issue - the government, who are requiring compliance, should meet the costs of that compliance where the burden is unduly large with regard to the bearer.

you won't know what you may miss if you don't try to include (to the best of your possibilities) other human beings in what you are doing. Potentially, you may miss a Hawkins, even if he didn't stop at the pub around the corner

Potentially we may do, but as I noted in my last post, Hawkins is the exception. Meanwhile we have spent billions of dollars/pounds/whatever on compliance which could have gone back into schools and education (via taxation and economic growth), with *more* of a chance of inspiring another Hawkins.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274158)

How many disabled customers do you need through that door in order for it to make financial sense?

Maybe fewer than you'd think. When I was a student, the choral society would go out for a few drinks after rehearsal each week. There were usually 10-20 of us, including one or two in wheelchairs. One of the local pubs didn't have wheelchair access, so we'd avoid it. They were only excluding one customer, but they were losing the business of 10-20 others. The same thing happens with restaurants that don't have a vegetarian option. They might only be excluding one member of a group, but it means that the entire group will eat somewhere else.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274274)

> but it means that the entire group will eat somewhere else.

In my experience it means one of them will helpfully point out that they serve chips, and that they've heard that the salad bar is really great...

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273868)

Well I would certainly hope its past the point of allowing people who have lost both legs access to a building and what ever facilities or opportunities for skilled technical labor held within.

There are plenty of people with mobility related disabilities that are quite capable of doing most any job you can do in an office.

Also, what cheap ass company doesn't put a lift (at minimum a cargo lift) into a "brand new" multilevel facility?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273994)

There are plenty of people with mobility related disabilities that are quite capable of doing most any job you can do in an office.

That may be true. But the relevant question is whether the value of the work they perform is sufficient to offset the cost of accommodating their disability.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274016)

There are plenty of people with mobility related disabilities that are quite capable of doing most any job you can do in an office.

Fine. So does the £10,000 cost of a lift really justify the chance to employ a £15,000 a year employee?

Also, what cheap ass company doesn't put a lift (at minimum a cargo lift) into a "brand new" multilevel facility?

I have no idea where you are from, but ten grand is not cheap, and its not a sum that a small to medium business can simply invest in something that shows little to no return, regardless of whether that premise is brand new or old. I can tell you now, that in the entire time of my employment at that place, the people that used it most were .... the smokers who worked on the top floor.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274172)

Fine. So does the £10,000 cost of a lift really justify the chance to employ a £15,000 a year employee?

Probably, yes. If the £10K is a one-off expense, over the lifetime of the building, then it's peanuts compared to the cost of the employee over the time of a building. The disabled employee only needs to be a few percent more productive than the next-most-qualified but able-bodied candidate for it to be worthwhile.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273930)

As someone who had a sister recently pass away after living with long term disabilities, as well as having several family members with various disabilities, here is the way I always thought it should be: Things where you have to deal with them such as court, government services, utilities, and stores (kinda hard to live if you can't buy food or get in the pharmacy for your meds) should be handicapped accessible. Everything else should be up to the owner. If the owner wants to lose the business (which watching my sis shop she would be much more likely to spend more in a few stores as opposed to going all over the place) they should be allowed to, but for the basics of life like paying your bills and dealing with local-federal government they should be accessible.

In the end it is all about balance, and allowing those folks with handicaps to live as close to a normal life as possible without having to burden the rest of society. people like my sis really don't want anything fancy, just a way to get around the store in their wheelchair, one bathroom in the store they can get the chair in and out of, just a way to get through their day just like the rest of us do. while I support having government websites being accessible (after all we pay for it and most of us know a friend or family member we wouldn't want excluded) but viral videos? Okay that is going a little too far and if my sis was still here she'd roll her eyes and say "Yeah, because God forbid I don't get to see some jackass nut himself. Now THAT would be a tragedy"

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (4, Insightful)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273774)

It is not the government's job to create laws that enable people to 'be productive' or 'give back to the community'. If that were the case, they should be creating laws that force people to work, and allow our corporate overlords to control 100% of our spending, just to be certain we are being productive with our money. Should you not have access to clean water, simply because you post on /. when you should be working and giving back?* For that matter, someone who is dead can not complain, should the government spend any money on a trial for a murderer; or should the murderer just be allowed to go free, so they can work and give back?

The government makes laws that, ideally, allow people to start on an equal footing and to prevent discrimination. The ADA has been used to say that a business open to the public can not say 'no wheelchairs', even by simply not providing a ramp, any more than they can say 'no blacks'. Now, we get to net devices. Computers have had the ability to display to braille pads, and make use of other devices, that allow it's user to make use of what senses and abilities they have. New devices are locking everything out, hiding behind the DMCA and 'OMG, piracy, think of the children' to prevent the owner of the device from making use of it if their needs are different. Manufacturers are quite capable of missing something simple, like audio cues for on screen text menus or white on blue text for the same menus. If it takes a law to get that changed, instead of just social pressure and an 'unexploited market', then fine by me. It will be unenforced, same as every other law on the books.

*: friendly jab at your username.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274180)

I'm not sure how you jumped from 'enabling people to be productive' to 'forcing people to be productive' and still expected the rest of your argument to make sense, but it seems to have convinced the moderators. Have you thought of working for Fox News, or entering politics?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274286)

The post came across as the Rand-ian style government shouldn't 'enable' people to be any more productive than they could return to society. Included in that is an abject measure of the value of a person in a very real sense, not as an abstract actuarial statistic. I carried that down the slippery slope, and presented the issue that once you make government assistance a debt, real or implied, then everyone is going to be indebted to the government. If you want them measuring how indebted you are, based on the amount of assets you cost the state, you are welcome to it. That isn't for me.

Politics, maybe. Always seemed like stand-up comedy, only the audience doesn't get the joke. I would like to think that if I worked for Fox News, however, that their average viewer would either be curled on the floor in the fetal position crying because I proved their collection of pet theories to be junk, or they would fire me in the first 5 minutes, live on the air for a youtube audience. Either way would get me the +5 funny I was burning karma for in the post you replied to.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274160)

"Out of interest, has anyone ever done a study on whether the effort and money put into firstly creating the laws, secondly enforcing the laws, and thirdly coming into compliance with the laws has ever come anywhere near break even with regard to increased ability of the disabled back into the community? "

That was never the objective. The objective is to make everyone else pay to support disabled access no matter what the cost or actual situational necessity.

The classic example I've seen was the Handicapped parking spaces next to a fighter squadron Ops building. There are no handicapped F-16 fighter pilots.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

bjwrenn (1001367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274456)

So, I have to put captions on my grandkids birthday party video before I upload it to a family web site. The law of unintended consequences applies. -------- Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

CitizenCain (1209428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273520)

Let's see: www.govtrack.us is not accessible. markey.house.gov is Joomla, ugh, definitely not accessible. How about showing the rest of us how it should be done before heaping yet another economy-destroying law on the productive class?

Oh, come on. If we expected the government to actually follow the laws it passed, there wouldn't be a single law on the books... or, at least, all the politicians would be in jail.

Hey, when I put it that way... your idea is, without hyperbole, the best idea in the history of humanity.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Davemania (580154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273534)

Thats right, legislations should have economy on top of the list, stuff like civil right and stuff like that should take a back sit because money is the most important factor in a legislation. The unfortunate can fend for themselves

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273612)

One of those things, if you don't have an economy and it causes the numbers of "unfortunate" to rise to a critical mass, civil rights usually become the least of your worries.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273708)

If nobody has money, how are we going to take care of anyone?

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (3, Informative)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273732)

You're totally trolling and I should be using my points to mod you down, but instead I'll provide a different outlook for your consideration.

Many people in this country still access the internet using a dial-up 56K modem - many of _them_ are achieving only half that speed, due to physical distances and line quality. They cannot access many of the web's features in any kind of timely manner. However, I don't see a requirement in the bill for broadband access to be made available in gratis to all people regardless of creed, color, marital status or disability. In fact, providing any form of internet or multimedia access is not a requirement laid out anywhere in our laws. People of all disabilities still have to pay for their computers, pay for their internet access, and pay for everyday items to maintain their quality of life. So yes, money is a very important factor.

Innovations in multimedia have been made by consumers spending money in that segment (aka Capitalism), not by the government requiring technology companies to make devices to service a minority. If there is a gaping hole in the way information and multimedia is distributed, you would think there would be companies trying to capitalize on providing services to that minority. Because that's [miracle-ear.com] the way [thescooterstore.com] it has worked [lenscrafters.com] in the past. The future [emotiv.com] is going that way too, on it's own. It does not need help from soon-to-be-outdated government bills.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

Davemania (580154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273792)

I don't even see the point about broadband access have anything to do with this, this is about the new web devices, the article stated itself that the industry body support parts of this law. Your free market libertarian approach isn't going to shield every segment of the society. I am not advocating that the government have to do everything but the original poster threw a general blanket of "economy-destroying" law on the productivity class. That is absurd.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, jerks (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273926)

It does not need help from soon-to-be-outdated government bills.

Just to put the things in perspective: if the industry is so successful, why do you care of a bill that is going to be outdated soon? And how come such a bill would destroy the economy which is so successful in doing, on its own, what the bill asks ?
Could it be that some (i.e. isolated and rather anecdotal cases) are used to construct an argumentation here?

How accessible is sufficient? (3, Insightful)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273478)

Just an off-thought: how do you make a web device (or anything else for that matter) accessible to a mute, blind, deaf, quadriplegic?

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (2, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273536)

Well the House Bill states

SEC. 104. ACCESS TO INTERNET-BASED SERVICES AND EQUIPMENT. (a) Title VII Amendment- Title VII of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), as amended by section 103, is further amended by adding at the end the following new sections:

The Communications Act of 1934 [fcc.gov] (pdf) includes a section on catering to the disabled, which in turn specifically includes (Sec 713 on page 329)

(3) a provider of video programming or program owner may petition the Commission for an exemption from the requirements of this section, and the Commission may grant such petition upon a showing that the requirements contained in this section would result in an undue burden.

(e) UNDUE BURDEN.--The term ''undue burden'' means significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether the closed captions necessary to comply with the requirements of this paragraph would result in an undue economic burden, the factors to be considered include-- (1) the nature and cost of the closed captions for the programming; (2) the impact on the operation of the provider or program owner; (3) the financial resources of the provider or program owner; and (4) the type of operations of the provider or program owner.

So it's probably a similar standard here - companies will have to make reasonable attempts to cater to as broad a population as possible. They can look to prior precedent to determine how far exactly that is.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273570)

Which doesn't answer anything. "Prior precedent" doesn't cater for anyone except the visually, keyboard-and-mouse-using capable after all.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273596)

Yeah, and will demonstrate exactly how much is expected of companies. If caselaw shows that you don't have to invest a million into ensuring political broadcasts - a completely made up example incidentally - have closed-caption then it's reasonably to expect that MTV's The Hills app' isn't going to be found to be in violation if it lacks similar functionality. There is a huge body of law which has examined the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Communications Act, and in both cases reviewed the Reasonable Accomodation requirements - of course precedent is going to be a guide.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273610)

They can look to prior precedent to determine how far exactly that is.

Sounds like a great deal for accessibility consultants and lawyers!

Pay us to help make you compliant, or pay your lawyers to try to prove your innocence. Or, most likely, do both...

Undue burden, someone always moves the bar (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274146)

The problem with the term undue burden is it can change depending on who is asked to determine it. Get an over zealous government bureaucrat or inventive lawyer and suddenly costs some businesses would see as burdensome are now portrayed as acts of unkindness or greed. There are lawyers and even some professional victims who will love these new rules. There is a story of a San Diego area lawyer who has filed over 1500 lawsuits since 93! He hires out severely disabled people to visit businesses he targets, then "negotiates" a settlement with the business under the threat of "if you don't agree to our terms (how much money I want) and fix the problem we will sue you in court for even more.

Welcome to laws designed to be abused. of course government sites won't be threatened. Oh sure, there will be complaints, but watch out big sites. Any site where someone of "disability" would obviously desire to participate. Not that they would ever go to the site, but its not hard to find someone who needs a grand or two to declare such intent.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (1)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273540)

If you legislate it, they will come...

Idiots, all of those old bags.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273550)

That's a moot point really as someone with such a high degree of disability will likely already have a carer who will use whatever established method they have to communicate the information. Accessibility is more about ensuring sites don't bar users who, with some modifications, could use them without issue. It's also not necessarily about making changes to the web - it could be as simple as providing offline methods for the user to achieve the same aims (i.e. a store that heavily requires JavaScript could still be compliant if users can use speech and text phones to call a sales person).

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273630)

A mute, blind, deaf, quadriplegic still has the sense of touch, in at least some part of his body, be it his face or whatever.

You can use that to communicate text to him somehow. I dunno. Morse code. Self-scrolling braille? I honestly don't know enough about accessibility to say for sure.

For him to communicate the text to the machine would be a matter of training him to use his face to control the computer somehow. Again, not an expert in accessibility technology.

The common factor when it comes to accessibility is making sure that your context is accessible as text and in a reasonably structured way. Once you get a web site that can be navigated reasonably by a blind user with a screen reader, I'm sure a mute, blind, deaf, quadriplegic would be able to access it just as well (in relative terms).

I know a guy... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273638)

who was horribly injured in an accident involving alcohol, skydiving, and a gas station. Now, he cannot see, hear, smell, or taste, and has third-degree burns over 98% of his body. The only way to communicate with him is by vigorously sucking his penis.

Fortunately, he's also a multimillionaire, so his interactions with legislators haven't really changed much.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273646)

I've been working on a device which is capable of communicating with legislators, which it does via whacks to the head with a cardboard tube. 1 whack for yes, 64 for no, etc. While I don't advocate whacking mute blind deaf quadriplegic's on the head with anything I believe that my invention could be adapted to be more suitable for their use, with some funding.

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273668)

"Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."
And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.

Just wait until things have to be explained to the unintelligent.

God says...
act Im_feeling_nice_today ingrate you_think_you_could_do_better
quit ROFLAO Enough blessing couldnt_be_better you_better_not

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273760)

Whoa. [propagandamatrix.com]

Re:How accessible is sufficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273936)

In fact, web CONTENT ought to be accessible. That for the public administration stuff. OK to raise the problem and make people sensible about it. But Private stuff ought to be rewarded when following web and accessibility standards, and left the f*ck alone when not. Provided I don't commit a crime, it is ME who ought to choose what part of the public can access a site, not any government.
Fight pollution, financial fraud, terrorism (not by invading, not by spying everybody, by infiltration and targeted surveillance done with respect to ordinary law), sexual and ordinary criminals first.

Of course it's possible (2, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273498)

The Disability Discrimination Act has been in effect here in the UK for years. Whenever I do work for a big company, there's usually an accessibility requirement in the brief somewhere. They started appearing not long after the DDA came into effect, and from talking to the clients, it's usually specifically due to this law.

Re:Of course it's possible (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273574)

I must be working for the wrong companies - hell I've even worked for government departments in the health sector and accessibility still seems to be universally ignored (in fact, in that instance I made sure while I was on board that the site was fully WCAG compliant - I was the only one internally pushing for this and the second I left they did a new deployment which failed on almost every point, yet they still left up their "WCAG compliant" self-congratulatory page), or it'll be something as primitive as ensuring images have alt attributes, or if they're really progressive, that text can be resized. The fact that even government departments, which were meant to be a minimum of Level AA compliant when I worked for them, are still getting this so wrong years after the DDA and nobody has been brought to task over it shows that the likelihood of legislation making much of a dent is minimal - it's toothless legislations and the only way this will work is if it starts hitting the bottom line and sites start getting sued/fined enough to make them sit up and take notice.

Re:Of course it's possible (2, Interesting)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273802)

The Disability Discrimination Act has been in effect here in the UK for years. Whenever I do work for a big company, there's usually an accessibility requirement in the brief somewhere. They started appearing not long after the DDA came into effect, and from talking to the clients, it's usually specifically due to this law.

Yep, it's worth pointing out that the DDA requires businesses to make "reasonable adjustments [dwp.gov.uk] " to allow disabled people access to anything their able-bodied counterparts can access - websites included. So ramps for wheelchairs, WCAG compliant websites etc. but there is no universal service obligation - if it's going to cost too much relative to size of business, or if it's plain impractical you don't have to do it. Having said that, many businesses totally forget their website should be accessible.

Well you can always hope (1)

Tootech (1865028) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273504)

While this has merit, those who would like to see this occur thru legislation are going to be stuck in limbo land. The goverment is too damn slow and I doubt would care, because unless this is going to get them some accolades in the press, they can't seem to be bothered to do something good for the people. That being said I think a lot of companies will not bother to try and do something like this just because they won't spend the cash needed, and for some it would be too cumbersome. There are a lot of devices out there that I am sure the disabled would love to have and I agree they should have access to them, I dont think we will see this legislation pass. Half the goverment can even decide on things before them now. Unless you have the lobbyists and the companies to participate then, I would doubt you would see the goverment slam down the legislation for it, they dont like to make any waves it seem most of the time

WTF taught these guys how to write? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273530)

We've moved from Common-Sense Connected Concepts to Complete Catastrophes in Comprehensibility, from Correct Case-Sensitivity to Compulsive Capitalization and Asinine Alliteration.

Seriously, these pompous dipshits are responsible for writing laws? No wonder they get corporations to do it for them.

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
-Mark Twain

This sort of inanity... (4, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273532)

This sort of inanity is comical, pointless, impossible, and laughable.

This is akin to mandating braille on the Mona Lisa.

The more nefarious thing is that such actions (like requiring closed-captioning on new shows online) can serve as an impediment to the publication of creative works (for fear of ADA-style lawsuits). Restrictions on presentation could also lead to limitations on new online presentation techniques.

It's not like these things (like alt text) weren't already considered. Force all government agencies (as means of public access) to adopt these rules for their websites, but major search providers (and places like YouTube) are *way* ahead of the government on this one. Unlike quite a few other places that needed a nudge from the government, the private sector has already recognized the market value of serving impaired users.

Specific restrictions are almost always going to lead to undesired side-effects. Chevy Volt drivers can't use HOV2 lanes solo but Toyota Prius drivers can? Whoops. Corn subsidies lead to a fatter nation? Sorry about that. HMO-friendly regs? Yeah, about that...

Legislators are notoriously bad at actually knowing the details of the problem. Letting them call for specific remedies to perceived problems is perilous. Start small, with government sites, and see if we can merely catch up to the accessibility practices of leading internet companies.

Re:This sort of inanity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273580)

> This is akin to mandating braille on the Mona Lisa.

Actually there is a miniature bronze version of the Doge Palace in front of the real one in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. Blind can touch it to feel the shape and the baseplate contains three pages of description in braille dots cast in it. Same for the building of the Parliament here in budapest, Hungary.

Euro banknotes contain specific signs for blind recognition. Euro medicine packs are marked with braille dots across the cardboard. Attitude is more important than money in this respect.

Remember, you can turn blind, too, if you stare at the computer screen too much!

Re:This sort of inanity... (2, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274090)

I'm honestly quite for accessibility measures (US paper currency should be illegal), but mandatory measures (like closed-captioning restrictions) on web presentation are too specific. There's a huge difference between government measures (and physical access requirements) and forced requirements on private websites.

I'm typically the first to say that we need to be more considerate of impaired users (I'm generally the first coder in my group to give a damn), but I see great risk in legislating accessibility remedies.

And, yes, the US could learn more than a few lessons from Europe when it comes to accommodation of impaired users.

Re:This sort of inanity... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273716)

This is akin to mandating braille on the Mona Lisa..

Brilliant! With apologies to The Cramps, i would like to announce this as Some new kind of kink.

She: "Do you want to hear a little bit about me?

Me: "No, I'll just browse around your Braille tattoos a bit. . . . as soon as you take your clothes off . . . "

Don't even think about googleing "Braille Tattoos" . . . the results are frightening . . .

Re:This sort of inanity... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273896)

>> This is akin to mandating braille on the Mona Lisa.

Don't give them any ideas.

Slashdot in last place for tech adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273544)

In other words lets pucker up for any possivle voters we've missed so far. More people to screw in the end. Hey slashdot... Nice Shitty iPhone site implementation.

Lots of problems... (3, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273560)

The wish behind this is excellent, but the law had better be carefully drafted. For example, you could mandate that all videos should have subtitles or closed captions. Which, with respect to major broadcasters, would be reasonable. But are you going to force this onto everybody who posts a home video? Obviously not (I think). But now how do you draw the line between home videos, small semi-professional videos, and full-blown broadcasters? And is this likely to produce a de-facto censorship of overseas broadcasters.

Why do you have to make all devices accessible? Does, for example, a waterproof phone designed for surfers/canoeists have to have features for the blind? While not saying the blind cannot surf, the population of blind surfers is pretty small, and they do not really need access to what seems at first glance a trivial gadget. The blind must not be locked off the Web - but they don't need it while canoeing.

Put it the other way, do you have to make all web devices available to the non-disabled? Am I required to make a braille web-interpreter (a device) accessible to the sighted but braille-impaired?

Will this effectively ban ultra-low-power long battery life devices which, for example, don't have speaker-phones and use e-paper without back lights, which are harder for this with impaired vision to use?

So, while I applaud the idea, I fear the detail.

Re:Lots of problems... (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274196)

If you are going to demand subtitles, can you please list which language(s) they should be in? What if a disabled person ends up on a Swedish or Japanese video site. Will the US sue them for not having English/Spanish subtitles? Or put up a Chinese-style firewall to keep these sites from being available in the US?

As you say, the intent is good, but the execution is near impossible.

Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273562)

Where shall we begin? Oh... I guess this will kill Youtube or significantly stifle it, since all programming will be required to have CC, they will be required to relay emergency information, and all mobile devices will be required to have decoders for CC and emergency information.

And VoIP providers will have to contribute specified amounts to the Telecommunication Relay Services fund, even if not interconnected. Bye bye free VoIP services like Skype. The government is making things more expensive for everyone, and eliminating a lot of free stuff, for the supposed benefit of a minority of the population.

govtrack summary [govtrack.us]

Redefines "telecommunications relay services." Requires interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP providers to contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund.

Requires every provider of Internet access service and every manufacturer of Internet access equipment, unless it would be an undue burden, to make user interfaces accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Requires that apparatus that receives or plays back video programming and has a picture screen of any size be capable of decoding closed captioning,

Ratifies and considers in full force and effect the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) video description regulations contained in a specified Report and Order. Defines, for certain portions of this Act, "video programming" as including programming distributed over the Internet or by other means. Requires video programming owners, providers, and distributors to convey emergency information accessibly to blind or visually-impaired individuals.

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273624)

Where shall we begin? Oh... I guess this will kill Youtube or significantly stifle it, since all programming will be required to have CC,

Requires that apparatus that receives or plays back video programming and has a picture screen of any size be capable of decoding closed captioning,

Read your own quote again. It stays its REQUIRED to be capable of decoding CC. Youtube already has support for CC, so youtube is 100% done in this regard.

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273702)

Youtube already has support for CC, so youtube is 100% done in this regard.

No, because Youtube has videos published every day that do not contain CC captions....

The law won't be satisfied until Youtube makes it a requirement that all new video uploads be fully captioned

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273764)

"Capable of decoding CC captions" =/= "Must have CC captions".

Youtube has CC caption support, all it needs is someone to put in the captions for each video. But that's neither youtube's fault, nor is it youtube's responsability. If youtube had no way of adding CCs, then it would infringe it in that regard.

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273842)

I'm not referring to the "capable of decoding CC captions" part of the act. I am referring to Section 201 and 202.

And the fact that most Youtube members would not have programming in their Youtube channels meeting the requirements of the regulation, when applied to internet applications.

‘(1) REINSTATEMENT OF REGULATIONS- On the day that is 1 year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, the Commission shall, after a rulemaking, reinstate its video description regulations contained in the Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming Report and Order (15 F.C.C.R. 15,230 (2000)), modified as provided in paragraph (2).

(A) The regulations shall apply to video programming, as defined in subsection (i), insofar as such programming is transmitted for display on television in digital format.

‘(3) INQUIRIES ON FURTHER VIDEO DESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS- The Commission shall commence the following inquiries not later than 1 year after the completion of the phase-in of the reinstated regulations and shall report to Congress 1 year thereafter on the findings for each of the following:

‘(B) VIDEO DESCRIPTION IN VIDEO PROGRAMMING DISTRIBUTED ON THE INTERNET- The technical and operational issues, costs, and benefits of providing video descriptions for video programming that is delivered using Internet protocol.

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (3, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274280)

Go to the link where the esteemed Senator is pontificating at length about the lack of subtitles (4th link in the summary, I believe).

First, you'll note that he did not upload subtitles to the videos on his site. Interesting, no? In a long pontification about the lack of accessibility on his own web site, he puts up video without subtitles. He did, at least, put up a transcript of the video on the site itself, but if you go to YouTube to find that video, it won't have the transcript. So he's seemingly in violation of his own principles (actually not at all unusual for a Congresscritter, but it's important to point these things out).

Second, you'll note that subtitles are available for that video. Since it was uploaded to YouTube, Google makes "audio transcription" available. While imperfect ("your personal courage" gets translated to "your personal carl", for example), it does get the gist of the video across.

So, if Markey is proposing that Closed Captions be available on all YouTube videos, then YouTube has already met the law to the standards Markey himself has demonstrated he wants.

Re:Oh, providers are going to "love" this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33273726)

Oh... I guess this will kill [...]

I live in Germany and we have lots of bullshit regulations in the IT sector. The result? Most services don't vanish, they just move to another country. And so do customers.

As a customer I almost exclusively buy entertainment products abroad, due to "for the children" censorship in German releases. Electronics are often also cheaper due to various lobby organisation fees here.

However especially small businesses really suffer under these regulations. But that's an intended consequence by those who lobbied for the regulation in the first place. It's not only lawyers that benefit but also big corporations whom it helps to strengthen their market share.

Great! (3, Insightful)

damienl451 (841528) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273582)

Wonderful! Now Markey can show that he cares by spending other people's money and imposing time-consuming, expensive regulations on all of us.
What's the point of requiring *all* VoIP phones to be hearing-aid compatible? It'll just make all phones more expensive for everyone, including those of us who don't need have hearing aids! It's not insensitive, it's just common sense; we don't mandate that all books be written in 20pt, we just allow publishers to sell both regular-print and large-print books! There are currently cheap VoIP phones that are not compatible with hearing aids and slightly more expensive VoIP phones that are. And it works just fine this way, the deaf can just use some of the $10 million that Markey wants to give them to purchase fancier phones!

The same applies to screen readers for mobile devices. Some are already available, what about the radical notion that those who benefit from them should purchase them with their own money? Not everyone who is blind is poor and helpless and so destitute as to not be able to afford the spend $300 on software that, according to Markey, is indispensable to live a fulfilling life. And if these politicians feel generous, they should just donate a portion of their income to organizations that help the blind. They're wealthy enough that don't have to stick taxpayers with the bill when they're feeling generous.

Re:Great! (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274088)

And if these politicians feel generous, they should just donate a portion of their income to organizations that help the blind. They're wealthy enough that don't have to stick taxpayers with the bill when they're feeling generous.

A politician's business model is about spending your money . . . and not his own's . . .

this is on browsers, oses, and hardware makers (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273626)

not content creators and website owners

if i open an icelandic or bahasa indonesia website from new york city in google chrome, it will automatically try to translate the page for me. this is my "handicap" that the browser is working around for me: i don't speak icelandic or bahasa indonesia

so if my handicap is deafness or blindness, there is no need for websites to provide special content for that, merely to be able to "translate" on the fly into that different "language"

Re:this is on browsers, oses, and hardware makers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274120)

Not really, a website developer can make this kind of translation from easy to impossible depending on the technology used.

For example, graphic buttons with fancy text over a complex background may be unreadable even by some with relatively good vision and a brain. Machine OCR would be impossible or at least untrustworthy (not that automatic translation can be trusted...)

Adding an invisible - for a graphic browser - hint in the web page would allow alternative rendering or selection without degrading they site style to the point a dumb OCR can cope with. The same applies to all kind of applications.

Reality (2)

jandersen (462034) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273682)

But due to the size of the web, and the large number of different devices that access it, is it even possible to legislate something of this nature? Or should we rely on education and peer pressure on the various manufacturers?

It is always possible to pass legislation; some seem to pass it like they pass wind. Whether it is going to have any effect, let alone the intended effect, is always the big question.

Education will have to be the way forward, but one has to be realistic - the web is to a great extent a visual medium, and much as one may sympathise with the plight of blind people, no amount of good intentions will make them see, and they are never going to experience the world exactly as a fully sighted person. And I don't think these exercises in "accessibility" are meant that way - the goal must be to make the resources on the web accessible enough that blind people are not unfairly excluded from the potential benefits, especially when it comes to public services (libraries, health care, etc)

Silly (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273744)

Requires that apparatus to receive or play back video, including using the Internet, allow control by individuals with disabilities and that on-screen menus be accompanied by integrated or peripheral audio output to enable control by blind or visually impaired individuals.

Why do blind people need video?

If blind people are interested in media content then provide an audio only stream instead of forcing the video player to work for blind people. I would hope most publishers would be happy to provide this. Some forms of media are just incompatible for individuals without all or certain senses. I would assume it's rather hard for blind people to appreciate a movie simply by listening to it.

It's a great idea, but how practical is this really?

I can rest easy now. (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273818)

348 to 23, huh? Glad to hear the entire House is around to vote on things, and hasn't ditched out to campaign and fund-raise. I'd hate to think that they're off, desperately trying to keep their job, rather than doing the job they were elected to do in the first place.

iOS 4's "VoiceOver" function is amazing (1)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273836)

I suggest anyone who has interest is seeing what is possible with universal access, check out the iOS's "VoiceOver" mode (triple-click by default in iOS4).

VoiceOver speaks out loud whatever the sight-disabled user hovers over onscreen, then registers the choice via double-click. It's a tremendously effective system and I'm impressed at how universal it is throughout the iOS. Apple is doing some good work here that the rest of the industry would do well to pay close attention to

This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of freedom (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273928)

The natural progression of egalitarianism will lead to this and then to people being punished for publishing content that is not accessible. Your little blog or mom and pop online store will get raked over the coals because it's a "public accommodation," and the argument will be that "sure, you have every right to speak your mind online, but you better make sure the blind and deaf can participate too."

The DoJ recently shut down a trial program--a trial program--that let students use Kindles at several universities instead of buying text books. Their logic was that since Kindles have mediocre accessibility that prevents the blind from fully using them, the mere fact of offering the program is ipso facto discrimination.

That logic didn't come out of nowhere. It is it the end state of egalitarianism: if we ALL can't do it, then no one can. It brings us down to the lowest common denominator. Instead of providing subsidies to Amazon or giving them the legal stink eye so they'd hurry up and make it happen, the DoJ simply shut it down under the pain of loss of liberty. That is the tyranny that awaits us if we give in in the name of "equality."

Re:This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of free (1)

Metalwarrior (925669) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274028)

Somehow, I am less worried about a "tyranny" of making things accessible to all than to the long timed tiranny of only some having access to all. Unfortunately, this is how things work... 99.9999% of people don't think about the ones that need special conditions, so I am glad that the government transforms it to a "law", so that people do not forget about the one right beside them.

Re:This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274142)

The DOJ had nothing to do with it. The Universities themselves decided that the Kindle didn't meet their requirements.

Re:This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of free (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274188)

The DoJ recently shut down a trial program--a trial program--that let students use Kindles at several universities instead of buying text books. Their logic was that since Kindles have mediocre accessibility that prevents the blind from fully using them, the mere fact of offering the program is ipso facto discrimination.

I have to side with the DoJ on that one, chief. In case you have not been in a bookstore lately we are within about one decade of physical printing on paper ceasing altogether (except for a tiny connoisseur market, like vinyl records today). Unless there is some requirement for accessibility, blind people will be denied the ability to read, shut off from all education and employment. Are you OK with that, seriously?

"Will somebody think of the children?" (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274244)

Unless there is some requirement for accessibility, blind people will be denied the ability to read, shut off from all education and employment. Are you OK with that, seriously?

You probably have no idea how much your comment sounds like a hysterical parent screaming "will somebody please think of the children" right now...

Re:This is why fire codes are the enemy of freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274398)

The natural progression of fire codes will lead to this and then to people being punished for constructing buildings that are not fire safe. Your little house or mom and pop store will get raked over the coals (tee hee) because it's a "public danger," and the argument will be that "sure, you have every right to build on your land, but you better make sure you don't endanger everyone else too."

You're playing the the "if we take one step, we'll take all the steps" slippery-slope card. Some infringements on liberty are worthwhile. Wheelchair ramps are worthwhile, just as fire walls are. I don't know if this piece of legislation will be worthwhile, as I haven't read it and am not an expert in this area. However, by your level of stridency, I doubt you are either.

Re:This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of free (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274418)

That logic didn't come out of nowhere. It is it the end state of egalitarianism: if we ALL can't do it, then no one can.

I'm working on an essay looking at egalitarianism as a societal form of OCD. I'd be interested in comments from the peanut gallery^W^W insightful Slashdot crowd.

Re:This is why egalitarianism is the enemy of free (1)

kingduct (144865) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274458)

The Kindle is a bad example -- the Kindle program was shut down, but it is quite possible that a relatively small effort by Amazon could make the device totally acceptable -- the Kindle 2 already had a screen reader (it could read books out loud), all that was missing was something that read the menus out loud so that a blind person could actually use the device. In other words, it had all of the hardware capabilities and only needed a bit more software -- software that would be relatively simple compared to the screenreader software that they already had.

The Kindle 3 incorporates menus that you can listen to. It will be interesting to see whether they meet accessibility standards.

My new disability (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273940)

... is that I have to read with my eyes and key with my fingers, which so many newfangled devices can't handle.

let the market... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#33273982)

I'm looking forward to the usual suspects coming forward with the "let the market sort it out" argument.

Please?

So we can follow up with suggestions as to how to create more disabled people so their number grows enough that they are an interesting market segment.

After all, we don't need no stinkin' government regulation, do we? The market will sort it all out. Won't it?

Re:let the market... (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274042)

I think the government is already doing a good job on growing the number of disabled [huffingtonpost.com]

As a volunteer helping visually impaired people.. (2, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274078)

..I have put myself in their "shoes" many times, to understand the difficulties they have in using various household electronics and gadgets, and of course, software and websites. My experience has been that all those devices that are usable by blind/visually impaired people, are also more pleasant and easier to use for able-bodied people. I have never met an exception to this rule. Hideous flash-encumbered websites are the direct opposite of accessible, and we all hate them.

A website does not have to be specifically made for a blind person - it just has to be text-readable instead of being a big blob of graphics, un-parsable by the various reader softwares available to blind people, be it voice or Braille.

Another bailout for trial lawyers (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274086)

Class action suit against Amazon in three, two, one...

A First Amendment Issue (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#33274118)

The Constitutional "lever" for the FCC has always been the perceived scarcity of the airwaves, necessitating spectrum control and licensing and thus a certain power over broadcasts over transmitters licensed under that authority.

Where is the Constitutional "lever" here, given the First Amendment ? In the case of Cable TV (from the FCC Cable TV Fact sheet [fcc.gov] web site) this authority was extended :

The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's jurisdiction over cable in United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968). The Court ruled that "the Commission has reasonably concluded that regulatory authority over CATV is imperative if it is to perform with appropriate effectiveness certain of its responsibilities." The Court found the Commission needed authority over cable systems to assure the preservation of local broadcast service and to effect an equitable distribution of broadcast services among the various regions of the country.

This case in 1968 deals with the transmission of regulated broadcasts over cable, which is not applicable to Internet only broadcasts. (The 1968 Supreme Court ruling is available here [google.com] .)

I see a big Constitutional fight coming up here at some point, maybe over this bill, maybe not, but at some point. Under what basis does the US Government FCC have power to regulate speech on the Internet ? Anyone can put up a broadcast on the Internet; regulation of those broadcasts is thus a regulation of free speech, and thus a violation of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law") ? Regulation has a tendency to start with sensible things, and wind up with stupidity like the Janet Jackson "breast malfunction" mess. (Do you want your web site or video posting to be done under such rules ?)

The Internet has been the most positive development in the cause of Freedom since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To put it simply, it has given the people a voice that they previously lacked. I hope that we don't screw it up in this country by giving it over to FCC regulations, no matter how sensible they seem on the surface. Applying FCC regulation to the Internet will almost inevitably lead to a situation where only major corporations have the ability (in fact if not in law) to broadcast on the Internet. (If you doubt me, try reading the FCC regs sometime.) The major corporations that own most on-air broadcasting in this country fear the Internet and would love to have it delivered into their hands; any bill that threatens to give them that power should be resisted.

Give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274200)

What next? Cars have to be drivable by blind people? Radios have to have closed caption displays for the deaf? All movie theaters have to display subtitles? Every store that carries scissors have to have left-handed ones?

"Handicapped" means what it says. Life isn't fair, and some people aren't able to do things that others can. I'm all for reasonable accomodations, but this idea has gone waaaaaay too far.

mod (0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33274472)

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