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Accessibility Laws and Regulations
Lainey Feingold will be presenting two times at the 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego in late February - early March, 2012. Commonly referred to as CSUN, the abbreviation for conference sponsor California State University Northridge, the conference is the largest conference of its kind on technology and people with disabilities.
Alert: January 9, 2012 is the deadline to submit comments on the United States Department of Transportation’s pending airline web accessibility and kiosk regulations. In my earlier post about the positive and negative parts of the proposed regulations, I explained how comments could be filed on the “user-friendly” website called the Regulation Room. I recently discovered, however, that comments to the Regulation Room, while shared with the DOT, are not treated the same way by the DOT as comments submitted through the “official” Regulation.gov channel. And, because the official channel is not fully accessible, the federal government has an “optional submission form” that is more accessible. Optional? I thought federal government accessibility was mandatory?
The United States Department of Transportation is currently seeking public comments to its proposed regulations about accessible airline websites and check-in kiosks. The Department is using a new “user friendly” on-line platform to encourage comments, which are due January 9, 2012. The DOT proposed regulations have many positive aspects. However, there are also significant parts of the proposal that need to be strengthened to ensure full equality for people with disabilities in air travel. (Certainly the regulations should not be “killed” as one commenter on the new platform has already suggested). This post contains information on key aspects of the DOT proposal and information about submitting comments.
The United States Department of Transportation issued a press release on September 19, 2011 announcing proposed regulations on airline websites and airline kiosks. The proposed rules would require most airlines to have accessible websites within two years of any final regulation (which could be several years from now if at all). The proposal, if enacted, would also require kiosks purchased after any final regulation to meet accessibility standards. The full text of the announcement is in this post. The DOT’s proposed regulations come as the appeal is pending in two California lawsuits against airlines for failure to maintain websites and kiosks that persons with visual impairments can use.
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.