Adapt or face the music
Web accessibility is our driving passion here at Recite. So we like to give a shout out when we see other organisations and companies championing this issue.
We noted here the case in the UK between BMI Baby and the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), which resulted in an agreement to resolve the issue.
In the US the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been very active in the defence of blind students across a range of universities. During 2010 - 2011 the NFB supported students in Penn State, Florida State, Wright State, New York University and Northwestern University, which were all hit with law suits in defence of blind students over numerous accessibility failings.
The NFB filing in federal court against NYU and Northwestern over the use of Google Apps for Education because “by adopting Google e-mail and other programs that aren’t fully compatible with technology that translates written words into speech” they are violating “the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Some of these cases are still working there way through the courts. Penn State University has already entered into an agreement to make the necessary changes to their websites and e-learning resources.
An even bigger victory was scored a month ago in a Federal court in New York. This case will have consequences around the word, and we encourage those with accessibility concerns about there own websites to take notice. The case was between The Authors Guild and HathiTrust, a massive repository of digital books, which has been supported by Google and universities as they undertake the mammoth task of digitalising paper books.
The Atlantic noted the key part of the courts reasoning, in favour of HathiTrust, comes down to the issue that “the Americans With Disabilities Act does not merely make this activity legal, it may even require it.” This means text to speech solutions could be one of the ways corporations avoid these kinds of law suits in the future.