The handicap inaccessible Internet: A-OK!

Here’s a shocker: The Americans With Disabilities Act doesn’t apply to the Internet. This is the federal law that requires employers and other public entities (like public parks, restaurants etc.) to provide “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities. Classic examples of these kinds of accommodations include installing wheelchair ramps, changing work schedules, having a waitress read a menu aloud, etc.

That’s why it seemed like a bit of a non sequitur when an advocacy group named “Access Now” sued Southwest Airlines on behalf of a blind man who …couldn’t read its website. Apparently the guy used software that would take text from websites and turn it into speech, but the way Southwest’s website was set up was apparently incompatable with such screen readers.

Now, to me, “call Southwest on the phone” seems like it would be a pretty reasonable accommodation for a blind person incapable of reading a website. The US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t really focus on this question, though. Instead, they found that the Internet is not a “place,” which means that it’s not included under the current language of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Read the whole case summary for yourself.

So, not only do I not have to worry about not including “alt” tags on all’s images, I don’t have to install wheelchair ramps, either. Hooray.

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