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The user is a rapidly evolving creature being defined by possibility.
opinions from the head lemur
[Posted] November 7, 1999

You've Got Problems!!

"AOL sued over Internet access for the blind"[1]
read the headline in the San Jose Mercury News.

The ADA 'Effective Communication Rule' is just that, a rule. I recently wrote a column for A List Apart Accessibility: The Clock is Ticking [2], where I discussed the Effective Communication Rule.

Simply stated, the Effective Communication Rule says,

"Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well."

The lawsuit brought by the National Federation for the Blind, puts forth the proposition that AOL is a "public accommodation" and as such falls under the "Effective Communication Rule" of the Americans with Disabilities Act[3]. (With an alleged 20 Million members, its hard to fault the logic.)

I was the one Blindsided on this one. In my article I figured that the lawsuits wouldn't start until August 2000.

I am Happy to be wrong!

In my opinion, the Effective Communication Rule is the most important guideline in site design for webmasters and pixel mechanics.

Because it's a law? Hardly. Because my clients are like the story of the farmer that just wants to own the land that borders his. You can figure out where this ends.

A good rule of thumb I have found is, if you or your clients has wide doorways and grab bars, your website needs them also.

In terms of good web design for business, accessibility is good business.

References

[1]"AOL sued over Internet access for the blind"
[2]Accessibility: The Clock is Ticking
[3]Americans with Disabilities Act

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