Website successfully sued for lack of visually impaired access

14 Jun 2017

Andrea Januta reports that a grocery and pharmacy chain has been required to set aside $250,000 to revise its online site, and to pay the plaintiff's legal fees, after a  Miami (USA) federal judge ruled that the website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiff, who is legally blind, did not sue for damages, but to require that the site be made accessible to online screen reading technology. 

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According to UN estimates, there are 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. The factors that contribute to increasing this number include war and destruction by natural as well as human causes; poverty and unhealthy living conditions; and the absence of knowledge about disability, its causes, prevention, and treatment. The Internet provides new possibilities for social inclusion and for safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities.

Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).

One of the main sociocultural issues is content policy, often addressed from the standpoints of human rights (freedom of expression and the right to communicate), government (content control), and technology (tools for content control). Discussions usually focus on three groups of content:

 

 

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