Are Websites Included In The Americans With Disabilities Act?

from the wheelchair-ramps-to-the-information-superhighway dept

Last week there were a few news stories here and there about a blind man suing two airlines because they had web-only fares that he couldn’t access, since their sites were not designed to be accessible to the blind. Wired takes a deeper look at this lawsuit and the implications for the rest of the web. If the courts find for the man, then it probably means that all commercial websites would be required to be accessible to the visually impaired. What I’m wondering is what does that entail? There currently are various software programs that will read websites outloud, and even braille website readers. What else needs to be done to make these sites “accessible”?

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Comments on “Are Websites Included In The Americans With Disabilities Act?”

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Travis says:

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Don’t be so quick to write off flash… if it doesn’t already, Flash just needs to save the text in the file. Then a flash-compatible reader could read the text, and navigation could still be done. Although I was hoping the same thing to since 99.999% of Flashs aren’t needed.
Flash makes a great banner technology, otherwise it should be shot.

dsg (user link) says:


Download JAWS or WindowEyes and turn off your monitor and try to surf a familiar web site. You’ll find it difficult and annoying, and you’ve seen the site. I do a lot of work for the government and work a lot with their visually impaired staff, and we have to produce items that are in compliance with Section 508 (, which states all acceptable and required practices within this topic. What really gets me, though, is building online training tools that are usable by visually impaired people, but the content of the training if clearly something only a seeing person could implement. Lastly, Flash MX is suppose to be more accessible, but we’ve found that the gov IT people have reconsidered installing Flash on the employee systems. From what I hear, “it gave someone a headache.? Without going into issues brought up by that, here?s to bad design.

In regards to Mike?s question about what else needs to be done, the biggest help I?ve found is invisible links at the top (they are the first to be ?tabbed? to) of the page that jump to different anchors on that page. If you go to a site and need the phone number, you might glance down at the footer for the information, not read the entire menu, then read the body of the site, then read the footer. This is what a screen reader does, and it?s terribly annoying. Try it out. Using the Techdirt homepage as an example, I would have links to: #menu, #search, #stories, #features, #poll, #olderstuff, #newsfeed, #quicklinks, #footer (with very descriptive alt tags). Also, I typically do a screen reader info page that helps to explain how the site functions and is structured. I could go on, but probably should get back to work…

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