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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.
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 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.
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.
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.