Netflix, Disney and Target have all faced lawsuits alleging their websites offer poor accessibility for the disabled. It makes no sense to wait for US guidelines, now expected in 2018, to end an era of digital discrimination.
Every few months, a new lawsuit involving internet accessibility pops up. In November, a legally blind man sued the National Basketball Association, claiming its website did not accommodate the visually impaired. Over the summer, cruise operator Carnival Corp agreed to pay $405,000 in damages and penalties in a settlement with the US justice department over a variety of accessibility issues, including ones with its website and apps.
A 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 2%, or 4.7 million American adults, said they suffered from a disability or illness that made it difficult or impossible for them to use the internet. For a growing number of companies, that inaccessibility comes at a cost. The US Department of Justice (DOJ), citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, has sued and negotiated millions of dollars in settlements with big brands such as Target, Disney and Netflix, for not designing their websites to accommodate the browsing needs of disabled customers.
Yet last month, the DOJ once again delayed a plan to issue regulations spelling out the criteria necessary for websites to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It had previously planned to issue the rules in June of this year, but it then postponed the date to April 2016. It now expects to release the regulations in 2018...
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Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian