Court to Hear Argument in JetBlue Accessibility Case
On July 22, 2011, there will be a hearing in the federal court house in San Francisco in the disability access case against JetBlue Airways. JetBlue is asking United States District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero to dismiss the case. The hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. at 450 Golden Gate Avenue in Court Room A on the 15th Floor. The hearing is open to the public.
The case, brought by the California Council of the Blind and three blind JetBlue customers, is about access barriers on JetBlue’s website and the inaccessibility of JetBlue’s airport check-in kiosks to people with visual impairments. JetBlue has designed its website in a way that prevents blind customers from independently and privately accessing information and using the site’s features. JetBlue’s airport kiosks cannot be used by blind customers because the machines do not have audio output or an accessible means to input information.
JetBlue has asked Judge to throw the case out of court, arguing that California’s disability civil rights laws do not apply to JetBlue’s website or kiosks. According to JetBlue, only the United States Department of Transportation has jurisdiction to consider the access needs of blind JetBlue customers. During the hearing, lawyers for the CCB and the blind JetBlue customers will explain why California’s civil rights laws protect the state’s citizens with visual impairments from discrimination, including inaccessible airline websites and kiosks.
CCB and the individual JetBlue customers are being represented by Linda Dardarian of the Oakland civil rights firm Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen and Dardarian and the Law Office of Lainey Feingold. Linda will be presenting the argument to the Court on July 22. Members of the blind community interested in attending the hearing are welcomed to use the Contact Page of this website to obtain additional information about the hearing. You can also follow @LFLegal on Twitter for legal updates about the JetBlue lawsuit.
- Read the earlier post on this website about the filing of the JetBlue lawsuit
- Self-service kiosks, such as those used by JetBlue, can be made accessible to people with disabilities. IBM demonstrated a self-service airline check-in kiosk in 2007 at the Airports Council International 16th Annual Conference & Exhibition. Read IBM’s article entitled The Need for Accessible Self Service Travel Kiosks. The United States Postal Service has deployed self-service kiosks that are accessible to blind people since 2004. Read the press release from the University of Wisconsin about the access features in the USPS Automated Postal Kiosks. Both IBM and the U.S. Postal Service accessible devices use the EZ Access interface enhancements produced by the Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin. Read more about EZ Access.
- Many of the largest entities in the United States have avoided litigation and used the alternative dispute resolution method knows as Structured Negotiations to resolve claims involving web site accessibility. Entities that have worked with the blind community on web accessibility issues include Major League Baseball, RadioShack, and the American Cancer Society. Read a summary of the press releases announcing web accessibility initiatives as a result of Structured Negotiations.