Web accessibility: Sylvan’s surrender

by Walter Olson on January 9, 2008

The Department of Justice regards online tutoring services as “public accommodations” subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in September entered into a consent decree with Sylvan Learning Centers, which agreed to provide aids such as written materials and “videotext displays” (as well as free sign-language interpreters) for the assistance of deaf persons who might wish to use its services. As TechLaw Journal notes (Sept. 26-30), and as we have often noted before in our ongoing coverage, there is reason to expect the legal pressure for web accessibility to extend to online businesses more generally.

{ 2 comments }

1 Cecil 01.09.08 at 11:51 pm

And what exactly is wrong with considering web sites which are transacting business to be public accomodations? Internet sales are certainly a lot more likely to be true interstate commerce as compared to mom and pop’s shoppe down the street. I realize that’s apples and oranges, but what sense does it make for a store (brick and mortar) to be accessible to the blind (most of who can’t drive, except for in S.C…. See the song it’s a sorry world for that particular reference) and yet have it’s web site (which is a lot more likely to be used by the blind, at least independantly) not be accessible?

2 Paul 01.10.08 at 11:44 am

Cecil, a web page is not a place. Does that answer your question? I have a few of my own.

Would providing free sign language interpreters be appropriate if the business was entirely spanish speaking? Should the videotext displays offered on the internet be provided in every language that a disabled person may wish to speak, free of charge? Do you have any particular size of business in mind, or does any blog, particularly ones that make income from ads, need to provide all of the alternate versions of reading every page?

Shoudl Walter be required to reformat your text for easy braille conversion?

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