Chronicle

The dangers of legislation

In the U.S. more complaints can be heard regarding inaccessibility, parallel to the increase of legislation concerning accessibility in the EU. At Funka we have always been fairly skeptical of legislation, which feels like the right thing, seeing that a real scandal is about to be uncovered.

Susanna Laurin

Title: Chief Research and Innovation Officer

The great country in the west has long been regarded as an accessibility paragon and a role model of human rights for persons with disabilities. A great many of Scandinavian graduates with motor impairments have chosen to study in the U.S., because of the high level of accessibility at the universities.

In a European perspective, the U.S. also seem to have a well functioning market place, for everything from assistive technology to consultants. Not perfect, but in some ways more developed than our own. This is all well and good.

But.

The judicial system makes for a situation where some website owners are more motivated by a wish to not get sued, rather than actually doing good for persons with disabilities. As a cherry on top, during this winter an acrid debate has taken place, where the main focus is that lawyers who take on accessibility cases, use the legal frameworks as a tool to scare website owners into settling out of court. That the interface doesn’t work for everyone is often forgotten. As soon as the lawyers gets what they came for, they leave the website, and its users, swinging in the wind.

Since ensuring compliance with legislation is not Funka’s main focus, it is difficult for us to understand the details. But if the only result of these lawsuits is to enrich lawyers as the websites keep being inaccessible, then something is very wrong.

Thanks to Debra Ruh who wrote an excellent blog post after our conversation on the topic:

Troubling Web Accessibility Trends in the U.S, opens in new window

The Next Class Action Threat: Website Accessibility, opens in new window

Then a government agency wrote about it, opens in new window

Our government actually updated the ADA site to show how to file complaints, opens in new window

A few older links:

Karl Groves updated his list, opens in new window

University Lawsuits, opens in new window


We enjoy sharing thoughts and ideas with others interested in our field. Your thoughts are important to us, so take a chance and start a conversation. Who knows, it might result in a project or an investigation.

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