A disabled person recently sued Playboy because its website did not conform to ADA requirements. Many people chuckled when they heard this. I too used to chuckle when I heard things like this. Years ago, I was an executive officer at a large bank. I chided the head of the branch network because the drive-up ATM machines had braille plaques installed. Making light of the situation, I said “Don, why on earth should we have braille at ATM windows? Blind people don’t drive.” Don looked at me sorrowfully and said, “Mark, suppose a blind person is sitting in the backseat on the driver’s side?” My condescending and insensitive attempt at humor comment left my mouth like a major league baseball pitcher’s 95 mile per hour fastball and came back to me like a 120 mile per hour line drive off the bat of a slugger. Hopefully, my understanding of and my sensitivity to these issues has significantly improved over the years.
The internet is becoming increasingly critical to daily life. Think how much we use it. We pay our bills with it. Our children do their homework with it. Those are only two small examples of how the internet has changed our lives. There are elements of society that have been denied this life changing tool. For example, courts have ruled blanket internet bans as a parole condition is a violation of constitutional rights. The New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled blanket bans interfere with a necessary tool for living. Even as early as 2010, the Pew Research Center reported 82% of all Americans used the internet to access governmental services and information in one year. Justice Kagan of the U.S. Supreme Court noted the use of Twitter by the current president of the United States. Anyone without the internet arguably is being denied participation in the political process because his or her information is being limited.
The internet has been a game changer for the those with disabilities. You can shop by the internet now. You can video conference with your friends and relatives. You can even earn a college degree online if you have the time and inclination. The feeling of being completely isolated from the world if you have a mobility disability can be somewhat alleviated by internet usage.
The Center for Disease Control reports there are 61 million disabled people in the United States. This equates to one in every four adults. Of these 13.7% of all adults have difficulty walking or climbing stairs. 6.8% of all adults have problems doing chores on their own. 5.9% have difficulty hearing. In short, businesses that design their websites not considering the disabled are not taking advantage of a vast untapped market. Businesses should look critically at their websites to make access for the disabled a major priority. Who is not looking to grow their sales and businesses? Ignoring this segment of the marketplace seems foolhardy. Capitalism and “doing the right thing” are clearly aligned on this issue.
Sources (Accessed May 21, 2019):
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Accessibility Requirements for Video
One thought on “Disabilities and Websites”
Very personal issue….thanks for sharing.
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