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Should Websites Cater to the Deaf and Blind?

Updated on March 22, 2013

There are some things in life that simply are difficult to do or overcome. Is the cost worth it because a government entity states it is law? Sometimes the political correctness is bending over too far.

Take websites. Those with blind or deaf disabilities are now suing in court claiming the commerce sites violate their right to access. They claim the websites have a legal obligation to make sure they can access it just as if they were normal. They file the lawsuits citing the 1990 Disabilities Act, which made bathroom stalls wider, curbs that allow wheelchairs etc. Yes, those things are practicable. They have filed lawsuits against Target and Netflix and were settled even though the court said websites are beyond the scope of this Act. Ebay, Amazon and a host of others are now making sure their sites somehow allows the blind and deaf access.

How?

If the court states the Act does cover them, everyone will have to make audio descriptions of photos or products and text boxes for the blind, captions and transcriptions for the deaf. The sites will need to be navigational without using a mouse and plain language including software that reads the text on the screen.

So far, the lawsuits have mostly targeted those businesses that have a website and a brick and mortar store open to the public, not someone working from home. Target settled for $6 million to avoid bad publicity and promised to make their websites deaf and blind accessible.

The cost to make the website accessible to all adds 10% to the overall cost. But the issue is where will all this stop? What about those with no arms\hands? Those with borderline mental issues? But are the deaf really prevented from using a website? Most websites do not use much sound and are silent, so, even those with hearing simply use their eyes to point and click the mouse. In fact, many that encounter sound immediately silence it. As long as the deaf person can read and use a mouse, are they prevented from using most websites?

I don't think so.

Still, it does benefit a brick and mortar business open to the public to get more accessibility from their website. It means more customers.

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    • aethelthryth profile image

      aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

      You raise good questions here. However, a basic level of having websites accessible (using alt tags, not using too much flashy, and Flash-y, software), has also been good SEO practice for years. I visited a center for the blind recently, and was impressed at how much they could access the Internet, especially some aspects I thought were essentially visual.

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