[thelist] US Judge rules that ADA applies to websites

Randal Rust randalrust at gmail.com
Tue Sep 12 13:28:33 CDT 2006

On 9/12/06, Matt Warden <mwarden at gmail.com> wrote:

> While I agree largely with the spirit of your email,

I also agree with the spirit of what Alan says, however, you say this, Matt...

> Avoiding a lawsuit, I guess.

And I would say, no, not really. If I am reading you right, then the
applications that you build to increase productivity are for
employees. If the applications work with assistive technology, then it
is up to the employer to provide (or be willing to provide) the proper
tools to do the job in a situation where they have hired a person with
a disability.

Just like employer has to provide *wide potty doors.*

But the point is, website != web application.

I have been an accessibility advocate for a long time, but the reality
is, arguing for or even against accessibility is a moot point.
Businesses cannot be expected to comply with the set of subjective
rules that are presented in the WCAG guidelines, because they don't
even understand what they are supposed to comply with. Even the very
people who create those guidelines argue over what they mean. I have
argued that the guidelines need to be split into objective
(measurable) and subjective (non-measurable) guidelines. That would
enable websites to actually have an accessibility *score.* The WCAG
working group turned that idea down, but that was to be expected. More
reasonable accessibility-minded people, and I think Joe Clark was
included, thought my proposal was a pretty good idea.

IMO, the proper way to argue for accessibility is to make a business
case that deals with search engine optimization, ease of use and all
that good stuff. And then say that the client can label their website
ADA compliant.

You have to build something the client wants. No one wants an
*accessible* website, they want a website that helps them make money.
And the reality is, websites made of Flash don't make money, at least
not in my experience.

It seems like this same furor over accessibility comes up every couple
of years. Each time, the only people who get up in arms about it are
those of us who actually build these web-based communication tools. In
the real world, few people care. You have to keep it all in

Each of us who is a consultant does have a responsibility to
understand what does or does not make a site accessible, but
accessibility in and of itself is not a selling point. Nor will it
ever be a driving force that *reinvents* web design and development.

Randal Rust
R.Squared Communications

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