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: CEO

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.

Related chronicles by Susanna Laurin

  • Funka in the U.S.

    6 March 2017

    We are always interested in what is going on in our market. When two conferences on accessibility, gaming and assistive technology happens in the same week, the agenda is filling up.

  • Report from the European eAccessibility Forum in Paris

    17 June 2016

    The French association for the visually impaired, BrailleNet, arrange an annual conference on digital accessibility. The theme for the 2016 edition was the internet of things. Funka’s own Susanna Laurin is reporting from the conference.

  • Integrity and culture

    11 September 2015

    Funka’s CEO Susanna Laurin reflects on cultural differences between Spain and Sweden, personal integrity and how badly things can get, even when you try your hardest to do the right thing.