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Quote of the Day - On my income tax 1040 it says 'Check this box if you are blind.' I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away. - Tom Lehrer

Justice Denied To The Blind?

Admittedly, I don't know the answer to the question I'm about to ask. Is this site accessible to the blind?

I'm not blind (although my vision is 20/700, I feel like it sometimes). And now, I have to wear reading glasses just to be able to see the computer screen. So, I kind of know, but not really.

But, I'm trying to check to find out. I've asked Access Now to let me know. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I don't know yet.

But I do know that they lost their case yesterday. On a procedural technicality. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't like the way the case was presented.

In the trial court, Access Now argued that Southwest Airlines' website was a "place" of business, subject to the ADA. They lost.

The trial court said that a website is not a "place."

Then on appeal, Access Now argued that Southwest Airlines and its website were essentially a travel agency, and that agency constituted a "place" under the ADA. The Court of Appeal didn't buy it, and dismissed the case.

The real problem comes from the definition of "place" in the ADA statute. It doesn't list websites as "places." A website is a lot like a place, but it's not. gets half of its business - $500 million a year - from its website, but during the pendency of the suit, the company redesigned the website to be more "access friendly."

The 11th Circuit said these cases are important, but this wasn't the case to do it with.

I guess Access Now will have to find another website, and another Plaintiff. Meanwhile, maybe more website owners will try to do what I did.

Find out, then fix it.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, September 27, 2004

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