For the last few days, I haven’t left my dorm very much. But during that time, I have been able to do the following:
It’s easy to say that none of this would be possible without the internet, but as someone with low vision and a neurological condition, the truth is that none of this would be possible without web accessibility and assistive technology. To imagine an online world that is inaccessible to me and millions of others is a terrifying thought, and one that could become reality in the future.
This week, the US Supreme Court will be hearing the Domino’s Pizza case on web accessibility to determine if it should be heard in the court. In this case, Domino’s is arguing that web accessibility is not something worth investing in, and that they simply cannot afford to make their website accessible. Other major businesses have also had similar lawsuits and insisted that as wonderful as it would be to have an accessible website, it isn’t possible. Previous courts that have heard this case have ruled that accessibility applies to both online and offline locations, and Domino’s has now appealed this to the highest court. The fundamental question at the center of this case is if a lack of web accessibility is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, or if the ADA should only apply to physical businesses and locations.
In the examples I mentioned before, I used several web accessibility services to be able to access information I needed:
It’s great to see how much web accessibility and assistive technology has helped me with being able to access the internet. Here’s what these tasks would be like without these accessibility features:
I jokingly tell people sometimes that I would be a completely different person if it weren’t for access to assistive technology and accessibility tools, and it is true to some degree. Thanks to assistive technology and accessibility, I can do the following tasks:
I greatly value my independence and recognize my privilege in being able to do these tasks. The main reason I can achieve these things that would have been difficult in the past is because more companies are investing in web accessibility. Not only that, many companies are working to include disabled people when designing new products or redesigning existing ones, instead of dismissing them as a small part of the population that has no influence.
I recognize that taking an accessible product and making it accessible can be difficult. However, in a lot of these cases, the money that goes towards dealing with lawsuits could instead go towards making products and businesses accessible from the start. For those companies that might not know where to begin, I highly recommend that they seek out disabled talent and pay them to help bring their websites up to compliance, as well as pay disabled people to test websites before they go live. This can help companies avoid the most common accessibility issues and future issues that may arise. Another benefit is that having an accessible website means that everyone will be able to use it, which can lead to increased business over time.
I hope that the US Supreme Court will uphold Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act and extend ADA accommodations to require web accessibility for people with disabilities, not just physical accessibility. I experience a large portion of the world through the internet and technology, and while not every website I go on is perfect, I don’t want businesses to discriminate against disabled people by having an inaccessible web presence.
Accessibility matters everywhere, whether it is in the home, at school or work, in the environment we live in, or on the internet that so many people depend on. The future is accessible, and I hope more people recognize that- including the US Supreme Court.
Reposted on Paths to Technology with Veroniiiica’s permission