Monday, October 02, 2006

ADA Abuse

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has to be one of the worst pieces of legislation every passed. However when you tell people this their reaction ranges from calling you a fascist to disbelief that you could be so heartless, so one quickly learns to just keep ones mouth shut. However today I came across a story of ADA abuse which was so egregious that I could no longer remain silent. The NFB (National Federation of the Blind) is suing Target because their website is not accessible to the blind.

Now in the interest of balance it's only fair to point out that this request isn't as impossible as it first appears, mostly they're asking for the alt tags used for images to be more useful. But you have to ask yourself where does it stop? Apparently for the NFB, no where. As I was doing a little background reading on things and apparently the NFB sued airlines and the federal government because they wouldn't let blind people sit in the exit aisle of airplanes.

I know that on some level all of this (with the possible exception of the exit aisle thing) seems like a nice idea. But what people have such a hard time understanding is that what any governmental regulation means in the end is that if you don't put more usable alt tags on your images we're going to use the threat of violence to force you to. Is this really one of the rights in the constitution?

It's all about the guns


Anonymous rob said...

On the website, put the tags in. I hope that the NFB approached Target outside court about including the blind-friendly tags. I'm sad that Target said no. Talk about minimal effort for good PR.

what any governmental regulation means in the end is if you don't...we're going to use the threat of violence to force you to. Ummm, while it's true that Congress is intent on giving the Bush Administration free reigns to put a hurt on anyone, citizen and non-citizen alike, aren't we talking about a monetary fine here? Or, at worst, revoking a business license?

You're not planning on moving to Idaho to join a militia, are you?

2:14 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

I have no current plans to move to Idaho and join a militia.

On the subject of the website I imagine that while adding tags is a large part of their complaint I imagine that it's more than that. And while both you and I envision a discussion before it went to court, mine proceeds somewhat differently:

Target: How about we just give you a phone number that you can use to order stuff?

NFB: No, you have to make your webiste accessible.

Target: really?

Finally, while I confess that I did wax a little militant there, the fact remains that anytime you give the government power to do something it's at the end of a gun barrel. You mention a monetary fine, or lose of a business license, but what if Target refused to pay the fine or continued to conduct business. What if the absolutely refused to co-operate with the government. Well then at some point people with guns would show up.

Target isn't a great example of this, because I'm sure that before a swat team showed up to take away the Board of Directors that they would pay a fine or change the website, or something similar, but only because in their calculations it's preferable to having the swat team show up, and that's what I mean by the threat of violence.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous ed said...

I'm sure Ross could put a bunch of other cases up there. There's the "putting handicapped ramps on stages for exotic dancers" lawsuit. has some other examples (I don't imagine the suits winning, but you never know).

The real kicker is that a lesser percentage of disabled are hired now. Why hire someone who's gonna sue you if he or she is fired, even for just cause?

What they should call this legislation is the "Guaranteed Full Employment for Litigation Lawyers Act."

BTW, I do agree that there should be reasonable protection under the law for the disabled, but they really, really should've fleshed out the Act more before putting it into law.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, first off, I quite agree that it is very sad that Target was unwilling to co-operate by simply changing their website a little (though I do recognize that the larger the website, the more work would be required to fix the problem and therefore Target would have a good deal of work to do).

Though more importantly, the ADA is still struggling to make sure that everything is accessible for those with disabilities. Can you imagine being a part of that organization at its inception? There are so many disablities to work with and there are more being added to the list every day. Who can blame them for wanting to everything imaginable for everyone all at the same time? It seems almost natural that they would go overboard sometimes in their attempts to change the world to better accomodate all those currently living in it and those still to come.

I just sincerely hope that that Target wasn't as discompassionate as it seems, I still tend to like going there every-so-often.

Ultimately, it would be nice if everyone could be watching out for the disabled as much as the ADA. It would certainly cut down on the need for the ADA to flex their muscles as often.

~The other Rob

11:00 AM  

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