Court Rules in Favor of JetBlue – Airline Websites and Kiosks Not Covered by State Law

In a blow to the rights of people with disabilities in California and across the country, a second United States federal judge has ruled that state anti-discrimination laws do not apply to airline websites and kiosks. In a closely watched case against JetBlue Airways, Judge Joseph Spero ruled on August 3, 2011 that regulations issued by the United States Department of Transportation — no matter how weak and ineffective — strip away the rights California residents with visual impairments to access and use JetBlue’s website and airport kiosks. The Judge threw the case out of court on the airline’s motion to dismiss. In doing so, he followed in the footsteps of another federal District Court Judge in California who ruled in April that because of the federal Department of Transportation’s actions, United Airlines was free to have airline check-in kiosks that cannot be used by people with disabilities. Read more…

ADA Turns 21 – Still Work to be Done

July 26 marks the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – the comprehensive civil rights law designed to ensure the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. Has the law fulfilled its promise to this country’s disabled citizens? Yes and No. Unfortunately, there are still many ways in which the promise of the ADA remains unfulfilled. Many of us will be writing ADA anniversary pieces today, and most of those pieces will have a list of things — too many things — that are still left to do. Here is my list of where the ADA has fallen short. But first, some ADA achievements to celebrate. Read more…

DOJ Delays Web Accessibility Regulations

Earlier this month the United States Department of Justice admitted what many of us have suspected: we will not be seeing web accessibility regulations in the United States for commercial and public entities any time soon. Some time in 2013 at the earliest. In July, 2010, the Department issued what is called an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making indicating that it was planning to issue regulations about web accessibility. The step after an “Advanced Notice” is a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” (NPRM). After that is the rule itself. In its semi-annual regulatory agenda for Spring 2011, however, the DOJ called the NPRM for Web Accessibility a “Long Term Item” not expected until December, 2012. That’s well over a year from now. And it is close to two years after the public comment period on the Advanced Notice closed, and almost two and one half years after the DOJ announced the possible regulations in July, 2010. Read more…

Proposed Public Rights-of-Way Guidelines (Finally) Coming July 26

The United States Access Board has announced that it will (finally) publish proposed Public Rights-of-Way Guidelines on July 26 – the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidelines will address access to sidewalks and streets by people with disabilities, including accessible pedestrian signals, crosswalks, roundabouts, curb ramps, street furnishings, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. Technical specifications on these issues will be welcomed, but it is important to remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act has required such access for more than twenty years. Read more…

Court to Hear Argument in JetBlue Accessibility Case

On July 22, 2011, there will be a hearing in the federal court house in San Francisco in the disability access case against JetBlue Airways. JetBlue is asking United States District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero to dismiss the case. The hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. at 450 Golden Gate Avenue in Court Room A on the 15th Floor. The hearing is open to the public. The case, brought by the California Council of the Blind and three blind JetBlue customers, is about access barriers on JetBlue’s website and the inaccessibility of JetBlue’s airport check-in kiosks to people with visual impairments. Read more…

New Web Regulations Should Avoid “Do Not Enter” Signs for People with Disabilities

On January 10, 2011, Lainey Feingold testified at the San Francisco Public Hearing on the Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to Revise the ADA Implementing Regulations. The hearing was the last of three held in conjunction with proposed rules on web accessibility and other issues. In her comments, posted here, Lainey urged the Department not to re-invent the wheel, and not to make any rule that would be a “Do Not Enter” sign on the information highway. Read more…

New United States Talking ATM Regulations Now On Line

The United States Department of Justice has now made the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design available on line. The Standards were included in the revised ADA regulations announced by the Department in September, 2010, but the 257 page document was not on line until November 15, 2010. The Standards include, for the first time, detailed requirements for Talking ATMs. Read more…

Accessible Websites, One Small Law Firm, and the U.S. Department of Justice

Can a small law firm’s website help the United States Department of Justice in its web accessibility rulemaking process? When the website — LFLegal.com — has been designed to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, I think the answer is yes. In its July 26, 2010 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about web accessibility, the United States Department of Justice asks several questions about how web accessibility regulations might affect small businesses. This post provides information about the accessibility of this law firm’s (a small business) website, and is intended as a resource for individuals and organizations preparing comments in response to the DOJ ANPRM. Read more…

Revised ADA Regulations (Finally) Include Detailed Talking ATM Requirements

On September 15, 2010, the United States Department of Justice published, in the Federal Register, its revised rules implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Official publication is one of the last steps on a very long road leading to new ADA regulations for both public and private entities on a diverse set of issues including Talking ATMs, ticketing for accessible seating, effective communication, service animals and more. The next steps? The new rules take effect on March 15, 2011 – six months after publication in the Federal Register. Compliance with the new 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (revising what is often erroneously referred to as ADAAG), is required as of March, 2012. Read more…

Web Accessibility, Structured Negotiations and DOJ Rulemaking

On July 26, 2010, the United States Department of Justice issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the issue of website accessibility. The Notice asks a series of questions for the public to answer to help the Justice Department in its rulemaking process. This post provides information, resources and examples of large commercial websites that have been designed to meet accessibility standards. These sites are operated by some of the largest entities in the United States, including Bank of America, Major League Baseball and CVS. These corporations, and the others referenced here, have made their websites accessible without litigation as a result of Structured Negotiations and other advocacy efforts. Read more…