Weight Watchers Print and Digital Accessibility Settlement Agreement

Posted here is the settlement agreement between Weight Watchers, the American Council of the Blind, and blind Weight Watchers members Alice Ritchhart and Lillian Scaife. The agreement demonstrates Weight Watchers’ strong commitment to digital accessibility for its members and subscribers who are blind and visually impaired. Weight Watchers will be using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as the standard for its online and mobile application content, and will be providing print material in accessible formats for persons with visual impairments who cannot read standard print. The agreement, reached using Structured Negotiations, also includes training, monitoring and implementation provisions. Linda Dardarian of the Oakland civil rights firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho was co-counsel with the Law Office of Lainey Feingold in representing the blind community. Read more…

Weight Watchers Announces Comprehensive Accessibility Initiative

Congratulations Weight Watchers! Posted here is a press release announcing Weight Watcher’s commitment to digital accessibility for its members and subscribers who are blind and visually impaired. Weight Watchers will use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as the standard for its online and mobile application content, and will be providing print material in accessible formats for persons with visual impairments who cannot read standard print. Weight Watchers worked on this initiative in Structured Negotiations with the American Council of the Blind and individual blind Weight Watchers members. They were represented by the Law Office of Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian of the Oakland, California civil rights firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho. Read more…

Historic Copyright Victory for Blind Readers

Congratulations copyright activists around the globe! What some are calling the “Marakesh Miracle” happened on June 25, 2013 as negotiators ironed out the final details of an historic treaty protecting the reading rights of people who are blind and have other print disabilities. After five years of activism, organizing and hard work, The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) concluded negotiations on the treaty which contains limitations and exceptions to copyright for blind and visually impaired persons and others with print disabilities. Copyright changes are critical for blind people to obtain reading materials in formats they can use, such as Braille, electronic formats, and audio books. The treaty, once ratified and adopted, will create improved access to books around the globe. The draft document now goes to the full United Nations plenary for adoption and review and, ultimately, ratification and implementation. Read more…

Can’t Someone Read that to You? Dissolving Stereotypes of Blindness

On June 25, 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, reached agreement on an historic document designed to provide access to reading materials for people who are blind or have other print disabilities. The draft WIPO treaty changes copyright law to reflect that blind people need formats other than standard print in order to read. These alternative formats, or accessible formats, include Braille, audio, Large Print, accessible web content and other accessible electronic documents. The lack of accessible, available formats, and not blindness, is why blind people cannot read huge swaths of information available in standard print format. The need for accessible information has been at the core of many of the settlement agreements reached as a result of Structured Negotiations. Many of those negotiations began with stereotypes about blind people and their right, desire, and need to read independently. Read more…

The Cities Project: Building Free Accessible WordPress Themes

The Law Office of Lainey Feingold’s website is a WordPress site designed and maintained to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AAA Success Criteria. Yet according to Joseph Karr O’Connor, an accessibility advocate and consultant and a WordPress expert, only a handful of themes in the WordPress Theme Directory are accessible to all users. Just four of of 1,747 themes as of April, 2013 designed to be inclusive? Karr O’Connor is out to change those numbers with the Cities Project, an international effort to increase the number of free accessible WordPress themes. Karr O’Connor will be bringing his message to the University of California Berkeley on June 11, and the public is invited to learn more about the collaborative creative effort that is the Cities Project. Read more…

Remembering Harriet McBryde Johnson

Five years ago today, on June 4, 2008, disability rights activist Harriet McBryde Johnson died unexpectedly at her home in South Carolina at age 50. With today’s 24/7 news cycle and a deluge of information each morning when we turn on our computers, is it easy to forget to stop and remember people no longer with us. Harriet McBryde Johnson is worth remembering. Five years after her untimely death, her activism and writings, her commitment to social justice, and her willingness to confront bigotry wherever she found it serves as a continuing reminder of the core values and goals of today’s disability civil rights movement. Read more…