What about Us? Are the disabled getting a fair treatment with the rapid growth in smartphones?

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By: Matt O’Toole

Have you ever wondered what kind of tablet applications are out there for disabled people? You probably aren’t the only one. In fact, part of your answer may to do with the fact that they are little out accommodating those affected with disabilities.

When the ADA was enacted in 1990, the Internet was only in its nascent stage, and e-commerce as we think of it today was unheard of.[1] Nevertheless, some courts have extended the ADA’s reach to websites that offer and sell goods or services to the public, mandating that websites are accessible to persons with disabilities.[2]

Putting aside the merits of whether the ADA, in its current form, should apply to websites at all, the question that is then raised is: how do companies make their websites fully accessible?[3] Unfortunately, there currently are no generally accepted ADA standards for website construction and that seems like a big issue that gets very little attention.[4]

How can this country be so advanced in its technology but yet be so behind on its advances to folks with disabilities?

According to the United States Bureau, 8.4% of our population has a disability, under the age of 65.[5] There is certainly a market out there and whether legislation has done enough to reach that remains to be seen.

Congress instituted section 508 in 1998 to make new online opportunities available to people with disabilities and to encourage the development of software and technologies to help make this happen.[6] An amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology available to disabled citizens.[7]

In 2006, the National Federation of the Blind brought Target to district court and charged that Target’s Website is inaccessible to the blind and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, along with several other California human rights act.[8]

“What this means is that any place of business that provides services, such as the opportunity to buy products on a Web site, is now a place of accommodation and therefore falls under the ADA,” said director of user experience for Mindshare Interactive Campaigns LLC Kathy Wahlbin.[9]

As baby boomers start to turn the corner, the number of disabled users increases and the software continues to develop.[10] Section 508 will continue to be relevant and I’m not sure that it’s necessarily the government at fault here. It is just that the advancement of technology comes more people, and more disabled user. It is just that we shouldn’t leave them behind.

With technology now moving to much greater heights than just the internet, I think instead of making more updates to Snapcaht, folks should consider making phone applications more accessible to those in need.

Photo Source: http://icdn5.digitaltrends.com/image/old-people-with-ipad-655×400.jpg

 

 

[1] Kyle David, Web Accessibility: Section 508 Compliance , Blog, (Oct. 28, 2015), http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202728515700/New-ADA-Lawsuits-Target-Website-Accessibility?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL. [hereinafter David]

[2]Id.

[3] Michael J. Chilleen and Brad Leimkuhler, New ADA Lawsuits Target Website Accessibility, Corporate Counsel (June 5, 2015), http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202728515700/New-ADA-Lawsuits-Target-Website-Accessibility?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20150929131629

[4]Id.

[5]United States Census Bureau. (Oct. 28, 2015), http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045214/00.

[6]See David supra, note 1.

[7]Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 93-112, 87 Stat. 355 (1973).

[8] Nat’l. Fed’n of Blind v. Target, 452 F.2d 946, 956 (2006).

[9]See David supra, note 1.

[10]Id.