The entries on this site are organized by category and date. These are the entries made in 2011. Content is posted within each category in chronological order, with the most recent entries first. For a complete list of categories and sub-categories on this site, visit the categories page. You may also find content by using the search feature or the site map. Consult the archives for content organized by date and title.
The Plaintiffs in the accessibility lawsuit against JetBlue Airways have filed a Notice of Appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Notice is the first step in their effort to reverse the District Court’s August 3, 2011 order that threw the case out of court.
The lawsuit is about JetBlue’s website and airport kiosks that are not accessible to people with visual impairments. The lower court ruled that California state law protecting the civil rights of persons with disabilities does not apply to airline websites and kiosks. The court’s ruling only applies to airline web sites and kiosks, and does not affect legal advocacy efforts seeking access to other websites or kiosks.
In a blow to the rights of people with disabilities in California and across the country, a second United States federal judge has ruled that state anti-discrimination laws do not apply to airline websites and kiosks. In a closely watched case against JetBlue Airways, Judge Joseph Spero ruled on August 3, 2011 that regulations issued by the United States Department of Transportation — no matter how weak and ineffective — strip away the rights California residents with visual impairments to access and use JetBlue’s website and airport kiosks.
The Judge threw the case out of court on the airline’s motion to dismiss. In doing so, he followed in the footsteps of another federal District Court Judge in California who ruled in April that because of the federal Department of Transportation’s actions, United Airlines was free to have airline check-in kiosks that cannot be used by people with disabilities.
July 26 marks the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act - the comprehensive civil rights law designed to ensure the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. Has the law fulfilled its promise to this country’s disabled citizens? Yes and No. Unfortunately, there are still many ways in which the promise of the ADA remains unfulfilled. Many of us will be writing ADA anniversary pieces today, and most of those pieces will have a list of things — too many things — that are still left to do. Here is my list of where the ADA has fallen short. But first, some ADA achievements to celebrate.
At 9:30 in the morning on July 22, a courtroom in the federal building in San Francisco was filled with blind and visually impaired individuals. They had gathered to hear arguments about whether the accessibility case against JetBlue Airways should be thrown out of court. Judge Joseph Spero asked thoughtful questions and listened carefully to arguments on both sides of the case. He is expected to issue his ruling within the next ninety days. The lawsuit alleges that JetBlue has violated California law by maintaining a website and operating airport check-in kiosks that are inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments.
Earlier this month the United States Department of Justice admitted what many of us have suspected: we will not be seeing web accessibility regulations in the United States for commercial and public entities any time soon. Some time in 2013 at the earliest.
In July, 2010, the Department issued what is called an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making indicating that it was planning to issue regulations about web accessibility. The step after an “Advanced Notice” is a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making” (NPRM). After that is the rule itself. In its semi-annual regulatory agenda for Spring 2011, however, the DOJ called the NPRM for Web Accessibility a “Long Term Item” not expected until December, 2012. That’s well over a year from now. And it is close to two years after the public comment period on the Advanced Notice closed, and almost two and one half years after the DOJ announced the possible regulations in July, 2010.
The United States Access Board has announced that it will (finally) publish proposed Public Rights-of-Way Guidelines on July 26 - the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidelines will address access to sidewalks and streets by people with disabilities, including accessible pedestrian signals, crosswalks, roundabouts, curb ramps, street furnishings, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. Technical specifications on these issues will be welcomed, but it is important to remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act has required such access for more than twenty years.