Alright thank you very much, Sonja, and welcome, everyone, to the August ADA Audio Conference series. Our session today is putting accessibility law in your pocket. The ADA Audio Conference is a program of the ADA National Network, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on community living, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. You can contact your regional ADA Center by calling 800-949-4232. We are very pleased to have a very knowledgeable presenter on the topic of digital accessibility with us today. We are pleased that she has joined us again to present on this very important topic of access to information technology for people with disabilities. As Sonja had mentioned, for those of you in the webinar platform, you can submit questions while Lainey is doing her presentation, and those on the telephone, when we get to the question-and-answer portion, we will give the instructions again on how you can ask questions. So you can read the -- Lainey Feingold's entire biography by visiting the ada-audio.org website. You can see her bio under the speakers link on that page. And so at this time, I will turn it over to Lainey for her presentation. Welcome, Lainey.
Thank you, Peter. Thank you to the ADA network for having me. Thanks for all the participants who are on the call on the phone or on the webinar platform. So this is the Putting the Law in your Pocket session. The next slide will say that. The first slide says Digital Accessibility Legal Update because that's what we are going to do. I am going to share what I know about what's going on in the legal space around digital accessibility. On the title slide, I have my name as well as my website, which is LFLegal.com. I have a lot of information on my website about digital accessibility. I will be talking about some of that in this session, but I invite you to spend some time on the site. There's a high-level tab for topics, and there's over 250 posts organized by topics, almost all of them relating to digital accessibility in one way or the other. So that's my website, LFLegal.com. On the contact page, I have a mailing list, which you are welcome to sign up for. I don't send very many emails because I don't like getting a lot of emails from a mailing list. But I do send emails about my book and about digital accessibility. I also have on here my Twitter, which is @LFLegal. Twitter is a great place for digital accessibility information. There is a Twitter hashtag A11y which is shorthand for accessibility, it has 11 letters—you have to pay attention to how many characters. So I invite those of you on Twitter to really pay attention to the A11y hashtag. You can get a lot of good accessibility information on Twitter.
So I am going to advance the slide, make sure this works. Yes. So why do we call this session "putting the law in your pocket"? I have the slide illustrated by a pocket with some tools in it, scissors, a tape measure, pen and pencil. I really believe we all need to be able to talk about the law. If we are not lawyers, if we are not in law offices, if we are not working for the government, the law is a tool for inclusion and to combat discrimination, and we need to be able to talk about the law. So that's why I do these sessions. I try to do them for as many audiences as I can because I think all of us, whatever our role, needs to be able to talk about the law in a way that recognizes digital accessibility as a civil right.
Right now there's a lot of fear around the law. There's a lot of lawsuits. We will talk about that in a minute. Demand letters. Everyone's like oh, my God, what's happening? We have a very reactionary administration in Washington. There's a lot of fear. So I hope that all of you when you leave this session are feeling slightly more motivated about what the law can do for accessibility and fluent in being able to talk about it, whatever your role. And one thing I want to say about that is there's many, many roles in making the digital space accessible. And when I say digital space, we are talking about websites, mobile apps, electronic documents, kiosks. Digital accessibility is sort of a shorthand for that. And if you are on this call, you are part of the many, many champions with many, many roles to play.
Whether you are in higher ed or government or business or an advocate yourself or someone just curious, if you are willing to spend an hour and a half listening to information about the legal space and digital access, wear your champion hat, and hopefully we can all learn to shift from fear to motivation when we are talking about the law.
I will take questions at the end. If you have a burning desire to put a question in, if you are on the webinar platform, you can put it in the chat box. We will keep track of those. I will try to get to them along the way if I can. I will take a break midway for questions and let the people on the phone save questions. So there will be times for questions throughout and definitely at the end of the session. So the first thing about the law in your pocket is a very easy thing to say: Accessibility is a civil right and a human right. Those words are kind of interchangeable. Outside the U.S. people tend to refer to these types of rights as human rights. In the United States, we tend to refer to them as civil rights. I use the terms interchangeably. And I illustrate this civil rights slide with a picture of a protest march leading up to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and disabled people in I think it's New York. I am not positive. Maybe someone can put that in the chat box. Holding a sign that says "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," a Martin Luther King quote that couldn't be more timely this week.
So digital accessibility is a civil right and is a human right, and why is that? Why do I say that? Why is that something in the pocket? Why is that something to put on Twitter? A short little phrase that kind of sums it all up. Why do we say that? We say it because -- sorry, this slide transitions a little slow. Digital accessibility is really about participation, inclusion, and equality. And I illustrate this with a picture of two smiling people. One has an apparent disability, one doesn't, and they are walking down the street talking because in today's day and age, everything happens online, and accessibility is what makes it possible for disabled people to go online. So with accessibility, we have participation, inclusion, and equality, and without accessibility, we have exclusion, which is why I like this picture of a woman kind of looking out from the outside, and you know, amidst all the fear of the lawsuits and the demand letters and oh, my God, what's happening with the regulations, under all that is the idea that digital accessibility is to prevent exclusion, to let everyone in, and to stop discrimination. So that is the sort of -- kind of all we need to know, and the rest of it is about the details of how do we make that happen. So accessibility is a civil right also because it's about information, and core information, education, transit, voting, services. Anything you can think of is now online, and if people with disabilities are going to be able to participate and get that information, online has to be accessible. In addition --
Hey, Lainey? I am sorry. When you are transitioning, could you just announce the slide numbers? I should have asked you at the top of the session. Just announce what slide number you are working on.
How will I know? Let's see.
It's in the lower right-hand corner.
I am on slide 17. Right now I am on slide 17, which is another aspect of the civil rights conversation, the civil right tool, is a right to participate. Again, education. The private sector, the public sector, social community, employment, none of this happens in 2017 without online access. So that's a civil right, and the human right aspect. Why should we be afraid of that? So slide 18 just asks the question, why be afraid of that? And I am hoping that we can shift the conversation from fear of the law and seeing the law as a hammer and a bad thing to saying wow, we have a lot of laws that support the idea of full inclusion in the digital space for people with disabilities. That's a good thing. That's nothing to be afraid of.
So on slide 18 -- let's see. This is slide 19. That's the theory of what the law is doing in digital accessibility, but how do we turn theory into practice? How is the law actually being used? So for that, we have an equation. We have the foundation, which are laws and regulations that support the civil and human rights of disabled people to access and interact with online content. Then we have advocates who are turning that foundation into reality. And then we have strategies. So the advocates are the who, the strategies are the how, and if you take the foundation and the advocates and the strategies and you add them all up, you get access wins, and that's basically what we are going to talk about for the rest of the session, what is a foundation, why do we have laws and what are they to support digital accessibility? And who is using those laws and how are they using the laws to get accessibility wins for digital access?
So slide 20 starts with the foundation, and the image there is a strong foundation of very heavy bricks being put together. The foundation is being built. Bricks, like concrete bricks. They aren't really bricks, but concrete blocks. And it looks very strong, and that's because the laws supporting digital accessibility are strong. That's another thing to have in our pocket. We are in a very dangerous and scary age right now in the United States legally with the federal government, but in spite and regardless of that, we have very strong foundation for digital accessibility in the U.S. that is not going away. So slide 21 is just a quick overview of some of those laws, and I don't think I said this in the title slide, so let me say it now, that it's true I am a lawyer, but this presentation should not be seen as legal advice. I am giving information over about the state of the law and the digital accessibility space right now. I am not going to talk about every single case. There might be other cases out there and other laws out there. So think of this as an overview and my spin on – well it's not really a spin, this is actually what's happening, but don't take it as legal advice. If you do get a lawsuit or you do have a client if you are a lawyer yourself or consultant and you have customers who get demand letters or lawsuits, you need to talk to a lawyer who can specifically advise you about your particular situation. Nonetheless, it is still true, and I hope whoever you hire will tell you that the foundation in the United States for digital accessibility laws are strong, so this is just a little bit of an overview. We have the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will talk about that in a second, that covers digital accessibility, that requires Web accessibility. We are going to talk about the details of that going forward.
We have Section 504 that, again, in terms of the law in the pocket, Section 504, as many or most of you on this call know, has to do with federal funding and not discriminating against disabled people if your organization is getting federal funds. That can be schools, that can be government agencies, that can be transit systems. And the reason for that is because we have a country that says if we are going to be using federal taxpayer dollars, everybody needs to benefit from the program for those dollars. That's the core value of Section 504, and everybody can't benefit from digital content unless it's accessible. So 504 is part of the foundation for digital accessibility.
Federal employment, 501, is part of the foundation. We have a separate law in the United States for airline accessibility called the Air Carriers Access Act. That has a requirement that airline websites be accessible.
The CVAA, the 21st century communication video Accessibility Act has requirements for certain technologies, browsers on mobile phones, for example, to be accessible. That's part of the foundation. And of course, one that many of you are familiar with, the federal procurement statute, Section 508, which has to do with all federal purchases, purchases by the federal government, technology used by the federal government all has to be accessible in the digital space. So this is why I say the foundation is strong because these are the laws that we have.
On slide 22 is devoted to the ADA. The ADA and digital accessibility. As I am sure most of you know, the ADA has three sectors. We have the public sector part of it, which is Title II. We have the private sector part, which is Title III, which covers -- they call them public accommodations, which I have always thought is kind of a tricky word because it's really private organizations that serve the public. That's Title III. And employment is Title I. And digital accessibility is part of all those things because as we started, the ADA is a sweeping civil rights law that requires effective communication, requires participation, prevents discrimination, and those things aren't possible without accessibility in the digital space.
So on slide 23, you can see the words ADA Web Regulations, and over them, you see the universal sign of NO, the red circle with a cross out. So ADA Web regulations? The answer is no. We do not have -- and this is really another important thing for your pocket for all of the champions on this call because some people say or you will hear, unfortunately, people in my profession say -- not all of them but some -- oh, there's no regulations. It's a gray area. We don't know what to do. So what you need to be able to take out of your pocket and say is that we don't need Web regulations. It would have been nice to have regulations to get rid of that argument, but we don't need them because the Americans with Disabilities Act already requires effective communication without regulations. It already requires participation, auxiliary aids and services, prevention and discrimination, which none of those things can occur without digital accessibility. So as many of you know, the ADA Web regulations, the possibility of a specific regulation saying websites must be accessible -- we'll talk about that in a minute, what the details of that mean, but in 2010, the Department of Justice said we want to regulate, we want specific. You can look on my website. Many articles, if you look under ADA accessibility laws and regulations, I wrote articles from 2010 all the way to 2017 every time they were delayed. Most recently, the current administration put those regulations on inactive status. So we can expect no movement on regulations for Web accessibility in the foreseeable future, but slide 24 kind of sums up what I have been saying since those regulations went on inactive status. The Web regulations are inactive. The ADA is not. That's another thing for your pocket. The Web regulations are inactive. The ADA is not. So the fact that we don't have regulations is no reason to not be working towards accessibility, and courts are starting to recognize that as well. So Web regulations are inactive; the ADA is not.
Okay. So in addition, the foundation has state laws, and there's a lot of laws in every state. I illustrate this with a map that's multicolored showing different states because the United States is a patchwork quilt of laws, like this picture of the states shows. Many states have little 508s. If you buy technology with state funds, it has to be accessible. We have state-funded information technology laws. Many states have antidiscrimination laws that are similar to the ADA. Some of those laws have monetary damages, which the ADA does not, for victims of discrimination. And we have local laws. New York City has its own law preventing discrimination against disabled people, recognizing civil rights, which translate into laws requiring digital accessibility because, again, you can't have inclusion unless you have accessibility. So the foundation includes a lot of state laws. I can't go into all of them now, but it's just something to know that's out there.
Unfortunately, we also have to brace ourselves in the coming period for rollbacks. I illustrate this with a backward key on slide 26 on a keyboard because states, unfortunately, are starting to pass laws -- some states have passed some laws preventing people from being advocates around Web accessibility under their state laws. Arizona has a state law, for example, that prevents disability discrimination, and just in the last six months, they amended it to say that it does not apply to websites. So that's unfortunate. Oklahoma passed a law, House Bill 1429, that required certain onerous notice requirements before you can use the state law to protect against discrimination on the basis of digital accessibility. And we have to watch for rollbacks on the ADA. Nothing has happened yet. There was a bill in Congress to have a very strict notice requirement before you can bring an ADA suit. People are surprised sometimes to hear that I am opposed to that because, as some of you know -- and we'll talk about in a minute -- the way I practice law is something called structured negotiation, which involves working on digital accessibility and other issues without lawsuits. But I am still opposed to the notice requirements because they will make it very difficult for people to use the foundation and make sure websites are accessible, and that isn't fair. So we have to watch for rollbacks even as we have a strong foundation. So beyond the U.S., just real quick because we you don't have time to go through everything, but just to know, I always say in anything I write that international movement for digital accessibility is strong, it's vibrant, it's growing. And websites are available everywhere. Many large organizations have different kinds of websites in different countries. Some websites are used all over the world, and all over the world there's starting to be more and more requirements for digital accessibility. So we can't get too U.S. centric on this. We have some of the strongest laws, but we are not the only ones, and all this is feeding into what we are going to talk about pretty soon, which is it is crazy for people to wait for the law to be used against them to start implementing best practices for digital accessibility because this is a global movement that is not turning back. The three high-level points on international digital accessibility, on slide 27, one is the CRPD, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, has Article 9, which deals with accessible technology in digital access, including websites, so I invite you to look that up. The CRPD is a United Nations treaty. It's been ratified by 174 countries last time I checked, which was a couple days ago. The United States is not one of them. We don't -- we shouldn't be waiting around for it to be ratified in the current political climate. But it's out there. There's two sources online if you want to check out what other countries are doing. One is the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium keeps a list of international policies, which they just updated. It's at w3.org/WAI/Policy, and I also keep a list at LFLegal.com/2013/05/gaad-legal. Yes, it was first put up in 2013, but I try to keep it updated. Between my site and the Web Accessibility Initiative site, you will get a lot of good information and find out what's going on around the world.
Okay. So that is the foundation. Like I said, the foundation is just one part of the equation. Accessibility is about people, and people who need online access and people who are advocating for online access, and I have this picture that came from Mobility International USA of a meeting of women, some who are using wheelchairs, some who are not, everyone has their arms up because accessibility is about people, and I really like this picture. It's multiracial, multicultural, and we need to be reminded of that. And when you are talking about the law and when you think about how to use the law in the pocket, I always say accessibility is about people. If you get too deep into the legal stuff, you tend to forget that. So it's really important for all of us who are fighting to make the digital space more inclusive, when we are using the law to remember accessibility is about people and civil rights is about people too.
So accessibility is about people because without people, without advocates, you just have the foundation. The law. That's on slide 29. My picture, which you will now see twice, of the foundation without a building on top of it because without advocates, which is slide 29, and without strategies, which is slide 30, all you have is the foundation.
So now I want to talks about what are the strategies for enforcement that advocates are using in the United States to make the reality of the foundation, reality of the ADA -- excuse me -- the promise of the ADA, what are advocates doing to make the promise of the ADA a reality?
So this is the Advocate's Toolbox. It's a red toolbox with a lot of tools in it, hammers and wrenches, and I use this because there are a lot of different tools that are being used for improving and increasing digital accessibility. Now, there's three major U.S. tools which I have listed here on slide 33. There's federal agency complaints. And I have the question, still? Is that still a viable strategy in the new administration? There's lawsuits in federal and state court. And there's structured negotiation, which is a collaborative dispute resolution process that I have used for 20 years. These have been the strategies, the legal strategies that people have used to make sure the digital space is accessible.
I just want to say that disabled people are advocating for digital access every single day. They are not -- I always say that audiences, disabled people don't want to use any legal strategy. This session is about legal strategies, but it's really important to remember that disabled people just want the access. They just want to go online and get the information. They just want to be able to fill out the form. And every single day disabled people around the world and in the U.S. are advocating with the law in their pocket but without a formal legal strategy by calling and complaining and filling out forms to get organizations by going to their schools and their universities. This is all happening too. So I want to always say that so we don't put so much focus on the legal strategies, although that's, of course, what the session is about. But let's just remember that the legal strategies are kind of a last resort, and the law that's so strong and the foundation can be used by individuals who just want to talk about their right to get online course information, to get captioned videos, to get the accessibility that they need.
So these are the three U.S. legal strategies -- the legal strategies. Federal agency complaints, federal and state court lawsuits, and structured negotiation. I have always -- when I do this presentation -- start with structured negotiation because that's what I've done for the last 20 years, and it's made a really big impact. When I say "I," not just me, but my colleagues and clients and people in the blind community. But there is so much going on in the lawsuit space in the last two years, totally different than ever was before that I am going to break tradition and call Strategy 1 the lawsuits. So on slide 35, I have listed some of the foundational lawsuits that have been effective in making the digital space available to everybody.
When people talk about oh, there are too many lawsuits, lawsuits are bad, we have to limit lawsuits – which you have heard and maybe some of you have said yourself – when you do that – before you do that – think about the effect that lawsuits have had in moving digital accessibility forward. And the ones I have listed here include Netflix, which the National Association of the Deaf brought a case on captioning, and it was one of the first cases. It's not the first that said you can bring a lawsuit for digital accessibility against a company under the ADA that doesn't have a brick-and-mortar location, just has websites. That was Netflix. A lot of important cases being litigated, some have been resolved, on voting. I have a picture on here of a vote button. For any of you who work in government agencies at the state level, there have been lawsuits in New York, California, Ohio, making sure that voter websites are accessible, that voting tools which are moving online, absentee voting, for example, are accessible, and not -- I don't want to say not just accessible, but the courts have recognized that accessibility in the voting context and in other contexts too, but especially in voting, includes privacy and confidentiality. And when we talk about accessibility, it's not just a checklist. It's confidentiality and privacy because without accessibility, disabled people who don't have -- aren't able to independently go on websites, having to share information with friends, family, strangers, paid staff just to get information that people who aren't disabled can get privately. So I think that was one of the big motivators for the voting cases coming out positively as they have.
Another among the foundational cases is Target, which is one of the earliest cases on retail, retail websites needing to be accessible. Miami University, Ohio, one of many very important lawsuits that were filed and settled brought by the National Federation of the Blind to make sure that blind students and other disabled students have full access p.m. we are going to talk about some of the details of these cases in a minute. And then Scribd, which is like a Netflix of books. That's why I put it on the same slide with Netflix. Another one of those companies that doesn't have a store, but the judge still said you can proceed with the lawsuit because how can you have thousands and thousands of magazine and books online and not have that be available? What is more sort of core when you get back to participation and civil rights?
So those are among the foundational lawsuits, not all of them. More lawsuits, there's a case currently pending against Greyhound on its website. There's a very important case out of Arizona on the rights of deaf people to be able to text to 911 rather than just have to pick up a phone when they can't hear the person on the other end. The Harvard and MIT lawsuits are still pending about video captioning of educational materials. They are in mediation right now.
There's a picture on here of a kiosk in New York City. New York City installed these kiosks where you can get various city information. They also have a 911 button. They weren't accessible to blind people. Now they are. There was a lawsuit against a restaurant, Sweetgreen. All of these -- about their website and online ordering. All of these cases were filed in court by people, by advocates using a strategy to enforce the foundation.
Last picture I have up here is a massage therapist or chiropractor because somebody had to file a case -- I believe it was in Iowa -- because the testing -- the test you had to take was online to become a chiropractor, and you couldn't take it if you were blind because it wasn't accessible. One thing to say, just to interrupt myself here, that these slides will be available on the platform from the ADA network and Great Lakes ADA Center. I also do legal updates on my website. There's a high-level legal update tab, and all of the cases that I cite in the presentation will be in the legal updates with links to either the press release or the court order or the court filing or the motion. I do those updates -- honestly, it's getting harder and harder to keep up with the volume, but I do them, and they are under the Legal Update tab. If you sign up for my email list, you’ll get them when they come out, or you can just go to the website and look under the Legal Update tab, and you can see many of the posts are illustrated by the red toolbox because I do the update for everything going on in the legal space, not just the cases I work on. That's why I have the toolbox. And sometimes I just do a blog post and update on a particular case, which we will talk about in a minute.
So those are even more lawsuits. On slide 36. And on slide 37, I couldn't help myself. I just listed several of the lawsuits that are pending just right now against McDonald's, against Eatsa, which is a kiosk problem. The rest of these are websites, but the Eatsa case is pending for the kiosks in the restaurant where you go in and you put your order in on a flat screen kiosk that they haven't made accessible. Redfin, Red Lobster, Red Robin, somebody is going through -- must be alphabetically filing these lawsuits. Ruby Tuesday, Texas De Brazil, Texas Roadhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, Panda Express, and more. So there are a lot of lawsuits out there. I can't -- these are -- nothing has happened with them yet.
I am now going to tell you about five recent cases that came out of this I don't want to call it an avalanche, but it kind of is as compared to how many cases were filed before. In the last two years, there's been many, many cases filed. If you are interested in the metrics, the SeyfarphShaw ADA Title III blog. If anybody is on there, you can put the link in the Chat box. They do the metrics of it. They count the lawsuits. I am not interested so much in the numbers. They are out there. There's going to be wins and losses. What we have to know in our pocket is that the trend is for digital accessibility. We need to inoculate ourselves from when those lessons come. Because when you have so many lawsuits filed, there are going to be lawsuits where disabled people lose. But that doesn't mean the foundation isn't strong, and that doesn't mean the trend isn't towards accessibility, which is why I recommend -- and we will talk about in a minute, that everybody institute the best practices that are coming out of these legal activities and other advocacy because this is where the trend is going.
So there's four new wins. I have this illustrated by a smiling girl, appears to be disabled, two thumbs up. Four new wins that are important, a case against Winn-Dixie, a case against Hobby Lobby, a case against Blick Art Materials, and a case against 5 Guys. If you go to my website, LFLegal.com, and on the homepage I have recent posts. The most recent talks about these four cases with links to the decisions. You can read the cases. So this just really high level, Winn-Dixie most of have you heard was a case in Florida, very first trial under the ADA for Web access. The blind plaintiff won. You should know the case is probably going to be appealed, so it's not over yet, but in the first big battle of that case, the blind plaintiff won, and the court -- it was trial to a judge, not a jury. And it was under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failure to have an accessible website.
Hobby Lobby was on the other side of the country in Los Angeles. In that case -- and this is happening more and more -- a plaintiff files a lawsuit, and then the company tries to get the case thrown out of court. I really don't -- I don't represent companies, and this session isn't legal advice, but I can say what I have said in my post and what I say on Twitter. Spending money to fight these lawsuits doesn't make sense to me because the trend is moving towards accessibility, and at the end of the day, so many of these companies are having to do the accessibility and spend the money on lawyers fighting. So Hobby Lobby was an example where they hired lawyers to try to get the case thrown out of court, and it was not thrown out of court. It's moving forward. I have the link to that on my most recent post. Blick Art Materials, again, was a case where they tried -- Web accessibility case by a blind person. Tried to throw the case out of court. The company decided to spend money hiring the kind of lawyer who gave advice to try to throw the case out of course. And it was not -- one thing to say about that case is that the judge who issued the order, beautiful opinion, like 35 pages. I really recommend that people read it because the judge who is 95 years old, was appointed by Lyndon Johnson, was like how can you even think about not having accessibility? How can you say that a website shouldn't be accessible? It was so heartfelt and beautiful. Again, it's just the first stage.
You are going to hear more about these cases as they move forward if they don't setting or we might hear as they settle. So Blick Art Materials and 5 Guys, which I think is a restaurant chain. 5 Guys was in New York. All of these were in federal court. And they were four wins. As I said, you can read more about them in the post. That's all on slide 38.
On slide 39, we have one loss, which is new, domino's pizza, a picture illustrated by a pizza. That was a case out of Los Angeles where the judge agreed with the company who tried to get the case thrown out of court and said because there aren't any ADA Title III regulations on Web access, like we talked about before, I said that Web regulations don't matter. I said that the regulations are inactive but the ADA isn't. But this court didn't agree with me. This court said because there's no regulations, the case can't go forward. These other cases, back to slide -- yeah, I can go backwards, back to slide 38, Hobby Lobby, Winn-Dixie, Blick, 5 Guys, they are all moving forward even without regulations. And the Blick Art Materials and Hobby Lobby specifically said it's okay. There aren't any regulations. I think maybe 5 Guys too. I have to check that. The ADA still moved forward, but Domino's Pizza, the lack of regulations wasn't enough. This is also on appeal. So we haven't seen the end of it. Several disability groups are filing amicus briefs to try to get the higher court to recognize that this was a mistake.
Lainey, just real quick, this is Peter. These cases that you are citing, the Domino's one and the four wins, have the plaintiffs been making an effective communication argument in these cases, that the ADA clearly requires public accommodations to communicate effectively with individuals with disabilities? Or what has been, you know, the argument in these cases?
Yeah, that's a good question, and I don't -- I think I have links on the website to the court orders where you can see what they are arguing. There are two arguments. One is effective communication, and the other is the denial of participation. So the company offers coupons. I believe in one of these cases, the Blick Art, that was -- online, there were coupons, but blind people couldn't benefit from the offerings of the coupon, so it's more like straight-up discrimination. You are providing not just information, but you are providing services and benefits, which is sort of a legal word but a real word, benefits that disabled people can't take advantage of without accessibility. So it's not just effective communication, but you will see when it is effective communication, there's -- I have a slide in a second about the big picture impact of that. So it's straight-up discrimination, lack of participation, denial of benefits, and failure to effectively communicate. So that is just five -- you know, those five lawsuits I just talked about, those results all happened in the last three months. So I have a picture of a roller coaster here because there's definitely a trend towards accessibility, and like I said, in the most recent time period, we have these four very big wins, and the Domino's being the only loss. So it's -- roller coaster isn't maybe the greatest idea because the idea was ups and downs, and I think we need to inoculate ourselves. That's another thing to put in our pocket. When we hear about a bad case, which we might, there might be others, there could be other courts and other judges who come up with different things. We have to remember that the foundation is still strong, and does it really make sense to fight against accessibility when there are so many important reasons for it, even in addition to the civil rights of disabled people. You know? We are not really talking about those other issues in this legal seminar, but you know, search engine optimization, and accessible websites are easier for everyone. The Web Accessibility Initiative has a great series of videos which you can find or send me an email and I will send you a link, where the tag line is accessibility: Essential for some, useful for everyone -- or useful for all. When you go to an accessible website, even if you are not disabled, you see oh, it's easier to use and the color contrast, wow, that's easier to read. And the white space, oh, yeah, everything isn't all squished together. So the advantages of accessibility are so profound that to spend money on lawsuits really doesn't make any sense, but people are spending money on lawsuits, so we are going to have some lawsuits.
Another couple ideas on the lawsuits, then I need to move on. Big picture. Some courts are saying you need a physical connection to -- you need a connection to a physical place. They call that a nexus. I have that illustration here of a sort of braided kind of bracelet thing because some courts -- and this started with the Target case way back when -- are saying the website has to be connected to a physical place to be covered by the ADA. Like I said before, what we have to have in our pocket, lots of courts have said no. Netflix said no. Scribd said no. In the Blick Art case, the judge said no. So other courts are saying no, but some courts are still looking for that nexus. It doesn't really make sense because like a nexus example would be you can go on the website to search for where the stores are. That would be a nexus. Or you can go on the website and create a shopping list that you are going to take to the store. That would be a nexus. But practically speaking, no one is going to design a website to make those parts accessible because there is a nexus and other parts not. It is something that comes up in the legal space, this idea of nexus, but I think courts are moving away from it as more and more things are online. So that's the big picture number 1 on slide 41. The big picture 2 on slide 42 is illustrated by a telephone. This goes to one thing that Peter was asking. Some courts, when you just talk about effective communication, it gives a conservative judge a chance to say well, what about a telephone? If they have a phone set up? The Domino's case, the judge didn't say a phone was enough, but it might be enough. It's something to watch for. We all know who use the Web that a phone is never an equivalent. It's never 24/7. It doesn't allow a deep dive into information privately the way a website does. But that is something that courts say.
Another thing that's happening in these cases, it's not just that the companies have to pay their own lawyers but the companies have to pay for the lawyers of the disabled person if the disabled person wins the case. So that big picture really is another reason for not fighting these cases.
Big picture number 3, I sort of already said this but I wanted a whole slide for it. I have a winding road, it's winding and going up and down. Don't be distracted by the court losses. Yes, they are going to come. Don't be distracted by them. There's more court wins. The foundation is strong. And the legal road is leading to access. So that's what I want to say about the court decisions. Oh, in this picture, spend money on access, not on lawyers. This is a picture of a pile of money that I use to illustrate the post on my website that does a deeper dive into the four cases. Spend money on access, not on lawyers. That's my non-legal advice.
So that's all strategy 1. Strategy 2, government agency active. I put this in the middle before structured negotiation just because it's smaller. The Department of Justice has long been a champion for digital accessibility. Of course we have a new Department of Justice. All I can say is I am pretty sure they haven't said anything about digital access, which is kind of good. They do have a website, which is -- I have a screenshot of it. It's ADA.gov/access-technology. Every time I do a presentation, I check with my fingers crossed, oh please, let it still be there. And it is. And it tells you all that the department of justice has done over the years of the Obama Administration to advance digital accessibility with settlements, going in court, and some of these recent cases are still relying on what the Department of Justice has done, even though the current Department of Justice may not be a place where we want to look for advancements in digital accessibility. State Attorney Generals have been really important, especially Massachusetts has been a lot of good cases. The FCC does work on digital accessibility. So government agency activity has been another driver for digital access. Now, the Department of education, I just want to say one quick thing about that on slide 47. Those of you in education -- which I am sure many on this case might know that the Department of education is handling many, many complaints right now about digital accessibility filed by one advocate. This is a picture of a barrage, and there was a recent court decision – sorry, a recent newspaper article that referred to these 1700 complaints as a barrage. They are being filed against the Department of -- the Department of education complaints about Web accessibility being filed against K-12, higher Ed, state departments of education. You know, some controversy about this method, but it's out there, and it's causing educational institutions who haven't paid attention to accessibility before to pay more attention. I am not here to sort of comment on the good or the bad of the strategy. I am just delivering to you the fact that even now in the current Department of Education, these complaints are being filed and being handled.
So strategy 3, of course my favorite, used to be strategy 1, but in deference to all the court action, I put it as 3 -- is structured negotiation. So structured negotiation is a collaborative process. It happens without a lawsuit. It starts with -- really starts, with disabled people deciding that they want to pursue their legal claim, they want to use their foundation in a way that will bring everybody to the roundtable for a solution. So structured negotiation began in the mid-1990s when we were working on talking ATMs, and in 1998, our clients who had been advocating for talking ATMs came to us and said -- some of you I know have heard this story from me before. Well great job, we are getting talking ATMs, some of the first in the United States, but there is this new thing called online banking, and with online banking, if we don't make that accessible, then we are back to square one in terms of financial independence. So we approached Bank America who we had been working with on talking ATMs, and we said you know, there is this new thing called online banking, which hardly anyone was using back then, and of course, they knew about online banking, it wasn't new to them, but accessibility was. And in 2000, Bank America became the first company in the United States to commit to Web accessibility. I tell this -- I have written a book about structured negotiation, and I will tell you about that in a minute. I tell the story of that first negotiation. B of A has ever since been a champion of Web accessibility. We have done a lot of good work with them. And that started us on this path -- when I say us, blind people, others in the community -- of using structured negotiation to advance digital accessibility.
So real quick, we've done some of the highlights, again, the foundational, just like with the lawsuits, Major League Baseball, big commitment to their website, all team websites and mobile apps. San Francisco Federal Credit Union. Again, these are not all cases I handle, but they were all done in structured negotiation. San Francisco Federal Credit Union for their website, also very important because they did in structured negotiation, which is more flexible and allows people to really understand what each other's issues are. With the Federal Credit Union, one of the issues was there was a third party who built the platform. Part of that settlement was to make sure the credit union platform is accessibility. HEB is up here because they are involved in structured negotiation on talking prescription labels. Anthem, again, healthcare we haven't talked much about that. An area where digital accessibility is so important and impacts on the privacy and confidential, Anthem was a great negotiating partner to make their websites all across the country accessible. That's on slide 49.
More structured negotiation I call them win-wins instead of wins, Bank of America picture I have up here. E-Trade has been just a wonderful partner on their financial trading platform, as well as their website and mobile app. The Motley Fool, someone did a structured negotiation with Lyft, both on their app and their service animal.
So we have talked about the foundation. We've talked about the advocates. We've talked about the strategies. And that equals results. And what I want to do with the rest of the time is talk about what are those results, and what are the details of what this legal -- yes, it's win, but what does it actually mean on the ground, in the schools, in the companies? So all of these legal strategies together have led to digital access rights to education, to finance, movies, sports, transportation. I did a structured negotiation with Houston Metro on the website for their transit system. Voting, healthcare like we talked about, work and employment, and public information. So those are rights to those sectors, which are basically all the sectors there are. But another way to look at it, like on slide 53, and again, something to put in your pocket, is this is all about digital access rights for people. Like we talked earlier, accessibility is about people. And the law has helped bring digital access to students, to homeowners, to voters, patients, employees, citizens, movie fans, sports fans, and transit riders. So the law has played a role and the role has been important, and in the best results, good strategies make accessibility stick. And those can come from structured negotiation, those can come from lawsuits, those can come from administrative complaints, and those can come without the law being involved. But good strategies make accessibility stick. I have this illustrated slide 54 with a DNA strand because what we say to our companies that we work with in structured negotiation, we want to build accessibility into the DNA of your company. So when the lawyers go away and the judges aren't looking, accessibility is still there. And there is a list of best practices that have come out of these legal strategies. I am not saying every single case ends up like this, but all of these best practices have come out of one or more of the legal strategies including structured negotiation. And against, these are best practices that if your school or your institution or your company or your government agency may be doing without having the law having knocked on your door. But these are the best practices that I think are most important to both avoid legal action, which of course, is everyone's goal, as it should be, and to make sure the civil rights of yours customers and students and public are protected. So the first thing is make sure you are covering everything that you do that touches digital. So we took -- mostly use shorthand. We call it Web accessibility. But it's not just Web. It's mobile, it's learning platforms, it's trading platforms, it's kiosks. So many times in big organizations, you know, one team or department is doing it right, and there's another team building something else who doesn't even know. So make sure in your organization that you are covering all the digital parts of it. Have an accessibility standard. WCAG 2, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, 2.0 AA, is the standard that we all should be using. Like we know, we don't have Web regulations, but court cases will -- there are so, so few court cases that are going into this kind of detail because once you get past the initial positive court decision, most of these cases settle. But courts have mentioned WCAG 2.0 AA. It is a standard in Section 508. It is a standard in the airline Act like we talked about before. It should be the standard. WCAG 2.0 AA is an international standard, it's built into a lot of the international laws and policies.
Have a Web accessibility coordinator. You have somebody in charge of privacy, you have somebody in charge of security. I always suggest think of Web accessibility the same way. Where should the Web accessibility coordinator live? This is really important. One thing I love about structured negotiation is when this question comes up, it's not like we are imposing it from the outside. Oh, the Web accessibility coordinator should be in the tech department or should be over here in confidentiality or -- not social justice, but what do they call it in big companies when they have departments to work on community efforts? I am not here to say where it should be, but I don't think it should be with risk and with the general counsel because accessibility can be a very exciting, creative thing, and even though I am a lawyer and I talk about accessibility in the legal space, it's better to take lawyers out of it and have your accessibility coordinator make sure you are thinking of accessibility as a good thing, an inclusive thing, something your tech people can work with to make your sites better for everybody.
Use an independent consultant when you need one. This has been required in many of the agreements I have negotiated that have been negotiated in lawsuits that the U.S. Department of Justice has required. I do have to say, like, in all aspects of the legal space, there are new players coming into play, new lawyers for plaintiffs, new lawyers for defendants, new consultants. So be sure if you hire a consultant, treat it like a serious endeavor. Interview at least two or three. Ask for references. Get their track record. Get their attitude and approach. You know, someone is only talking to you about fear, fear, fear, is that the kind of consultant that you want? Something to think about.
Another best practice coming out of the legal space, training your staff. Nothing might be more important than training your staff. Almost every case that -- I have done in structured negotiation -- I talk a lot about this in my book. The book is not just for lawyers. It's called Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits. It tells stories of a lot of the work I have done. You can read in the stories that most of the cases start because frontend staff wasn't trained, and someone called up with a complaint about not being able to do something on a website or a mobile app, and it didn't go anywhere. They were talking to someone who never heard of blind people using a computer. All those sorts of things. So the training is not just to your Web developers and designers about how to build a beautiful, accessible site, but to nobody who interfaces with the public who needs to know that disabled people use technology.
Add to performance evaluations. This is something that the Obama Administration was able to get in some agreements, and they have been in some private agreements too. If someone is responsible for accessibility, they should be evaluated. It should be part of what they are evaluated on. We really want to bake accessibility into the DNA of our institutions, this is how we have to do it. Have an accessibility policy, make it public, put it on your homepage and in your footer, what we call the accessibility information page. I know that some -- you know, if accessibility lives in the risk department, you are going to get a lot of fear. Oh, no, we shouldn't put anything up because we haven't done everything. I don't agree with that. Again, this session is not legal advice, but I do keep a list of accessibility information pages. The post is on the -- is linked on the home page of my website under the most popular post listing, which is on the homepage. Visually it's on the right side toward the bottom. And you can see what companies are doing. Take ownership. Be proud of the accessibility that you are doing. Make sure you have a good phone number and a good email address that will get answered if someone has a complaint. And I personally think that that is one way to avoid having to even talk about the law in your accessibility plans. Use a testing tool. Again, there's a lot of tools out there. There's a lot of new players in the field. Treat accessibility like you would any other purchase. Get different bids. Talk to different people. Make sure someone's going to fit with your culture before you hire them.
Usability testing. So important. Testing by disabled people is so key. You can never just use a tool. He and all of the legal settlements that are -- and I really believe in transparency, and that's why on my website under negotiations you can see a list of all the agreements I have negotiated. You can read the agreements for yourself. You can see what you think. I would say 97% of the work I have done in the last 20-odd years is public. There are occasions when you can't get a company to agree to be public with the agreement. I think transparency is really important, and I am hoping that the new players in this space are going to agree with that. And you can read about usability testing.
You find disability groups and disabled people in your area to come in and give you feedback. You know, the bigger companies have huge labs and very extensive setups to make sure disabled people's views on their website or mobile are included. But even if you are small, you know, I am just a one-person law office here, but when I got my new website built, I built into the contract with my developer, who is wonderful, that the site would be tested three times before we went live by disabled people along the way. So it doesn't have to be a fancy expensive thing. But it has to be done. Vendor contracts. Really important. It's part of best practices to put in your request for proposals as well as your actual contracts exactly what you expect from -- for accessibility. Don't just say comply with the law. Say what standard you want, you want the product or the service or the content to meet WCAG 2.0 AA, that you want it to be tested before it's delivered to you, things like that. So one other thing about what these agreements require, that was slide 55. On slide 56, on the higher ed settlements, basically the best practices are the same, but a little sort of deeper. These settlements deal with having a technology audit and a fix covering Web and apps and video, as we talked about with the Harvard case, and there was an EdX case on the platform. Video is really important. More and more important as more learning goes on through video. Library systems, voting management systems, course materials, training, and an accessibility tech coordinator in the IT department. So I have been talking a lot and I have been talking fast, so let me stop talking for a second and see do we have any questions? Peter, do you want to answer questions on the phone? I have a few more things I want to share, but let's do a few questions.
You want to do a few questions? Okay. We'll bring Sonja back in just a minute and we'll address the -- we got a lot of questions in through the webinar platform. First question dealing with -- about your fellow attorneys. And this individual comments that they've seen a lot of articles written in different publications by attorneys warning businesses about the increase in the number of ADA lawsuits around Web access. And the person wants to know a couple things. Are attorneys educated in the issues around Web access in the same way that they've learned about, you know, issues around physical access? And the final question is, you know, how can attorneys be educated around these issues of access to digital information?
Okay. That's a good question. Yeah, like I said before, there's new players in all sides of this. New plaintiff lawyers, new defense lawyers, new consultants, new testing tools. And I don't want to be an old person who says nobody new can come in this space. I welcome new lawyers who want to improve access for disabled people. It's not that. It's just that on the defense side, I see a lot of these big firms seeing a practice area, writing blog posts. A lot of times I have to write to them and say, you know, you got this wrong or you got that wrong. I think lawyers are learning fast. I think that you can find lawyers like, for example, the lawyers at Seyfarph, who do an ADA blog for several years. Like anything else, ask for people's experience. And you know, more and more people are learning. I had to write to someone the other week, and the person wrote back thank you so much, I appreciate it. It's not -- people are new. They don't really know. And a lot of the Web accessibility legal work has happened in these settlements. For example, everything in structured negotiation is not in a court reporter the way lawyers are used to finding things. It's good to have someone with experience, lawyers are learning, but on all sides of the table, people are saying this as a practice area and a way to make money, which can be good because we have more advocates, but it also can be a cautionary tale because we have people coming in on all sides who are not just interested in digital accessibility but are interested in other parts of it.
There are ways for the legal system to take care of lawyers what are abusing the system, and some states have done that, and that's why another reason I am opposed to having a notice requirement and limiting the ADA, because we already have systems in place to say like there's a bad situation in Arizona, thousands of cases, or cases without a plaintiff, and the legal system can already take care of those people.
So if you need to hire a lawyer, I would recommend a solid interview and see what they know and go with someone who knows something.
All right. Great. Thanks for that answer, especially the second part because that was a question that someone else had. So real quick before we let you finish off and after you finished, we'll check and see if there are any phone questions, someone wanted to know what regulations, laws, standards apply to federal government agency websites.
Federal agency websites are typically Section 508, which is federal procurement. I am not a real expert in Section 504, but federal agencies should have ways in which they comply with 504 that should include their websites. If someone wants to email me about that, I will see if I can send some more detail.
Okay. Great. Why don't you go ahead and finish up, then we'll get back to the rest of the questions.
Yeah, okay. So the only other things I wanted to share -- this slide, 57, Want more law? So there's three places, and this is kind of back to the question of does your lawyer know what they are talking about. You can ask them if they know about this. The best place to get the higher education updates is from the University of Minnesota. When they hear about a higher ed case, they put up all the information, lawsuit, complaint, the resolution, if there's any press. I made a link for that that I have up here, bitt.ly -- which is a link shortener -- bit.ly/higherEda11y. You can also put into Google University of Minnesota, digital accessibility higher ed, and it comes up right at the top. That's a really good place to get higher ed updates. My accessibility legal updates, like I said, you can join my mailing list, LFLegal.com/contact, and you can go to the Legal Update tab and see all my updates. And then the Seyfarth ADA blog, which I mentioned before, is very factual. It's not necessarily the same perspective, but the information is very factual, and they are always on top of things. I get a lot of my information from them. So I really recommend that. It's www.adatitleiii.com. And you can get a lot of information from that. So that's if you want more law. I don't know after hearing all this, I don't know if you want it or not.
And then about my book, again, it's called Structured Negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits. It's not just for lawyers. It has a lot of strategies and a lot of stories about accessibility. I talk about the Major League Baseball case, the Bank of America work, the work with Weight Watchers we've done, Web accessibility, Anthem. I don't know if we did Benny's, I can't remember if it's in the book. The book is available from Amazon, from the American Bar Association, and the book is on book share, which is a library for people with disabilities. And on Amazon it's Kindle and on the ADA it's a book in EPUB. It's all accessible. So if you go on my website, LFLegal.com/book, you can read more about the book and what people are saying and the ordering information. So there's that, and then stay in touch. So again, I put my Twitter up here, @LFLegal. My contact page, LFLegal.com/contact, where if you have any questions you can just send me a quick note. Then my website. I talked about the updates, I talked about the settlements. You can see media about structured negotiation, and I think that's it, so let's do some more questions. I now see the questions, Peter. Sorry. I wasn't seeing them before.
That's all right. Sonja, can you come on real quick and give our telephone participants instructions on how they can ask questions at this time?
At this time, I would like to remind everyone in order to ask a question, press * 1 on your telephone keypad. We'll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster.
All right. While we do that, we'll go to a question that we received emailed to us, so this wasn't in the Chat room, but Lainey, a person wanted to know your thought on how do advocates get a voice in with the corporations and companies that are creating the -- you know, the technology? And ever-changing technologies, the companies that may not have direct ADA or other legal obligations, but they are selling their new website designs or their new technologies to businesses, to employers, to state and local government entities that do have obligations. So how does the voice of accessibility get within those design -- you know, the companies creating the technologies?
Yeah, that's a good question. You have some of these website makers, like Wix or, you know, who are making websites who really don't have accessibility baked in. I think for some of those companies, best strategies sort of old-fashioned organizing strategies, Twitter or press releases or marching with the dollars. If you have a small website, you should be using WordPress. WordPress is accessible, has a lot of accessibility themes, has an amazing community. Accessibility is one of those things that sometimes you can get lucky and work with a company or, you know, send a tweet or send an email and you are going to get a good response. And the company is not really going to know. On my website, I have a resource page, and I have a lot of nonprofits listed who do accessibility testing. And you know, sometimes it's good to just go to a public event or, you know, the -- there's legal issues with reaching like the developer of the technology because the ADA -- I mean, will's lots of different legal theories for it, but in these big picture things that I have been talking about, the ADA is covering the public accommodation or the government agency that's purchasing the technology. So that's where we put our legal efforts and try to get them not to purchase the technology. And if enough of these companies don't purchase the technology, then that technology is going to change.
Yeah, that's a great point. The consumer can drive the accessibility. That goes back to what you were saying about accessibility statements and education of covered entities so that they know what their obligations are. Let's do one more quick before we check the phone. Someone wanted to know does website accessibility litigation lend itself to class action lawsuits because of the number of individuals potentially impacted by inaccessibility, and the person cites large retail websites that may be visited by many, many, many people.
Well, one of the things I like about structured negotiation is, you know, class action lawsuits are really important. They are also really expensive for all sides. And if you fix a website for one organization or one person, you have fixed it for all the people using that website. So in structured negotiation, we don't have to do class actions. I will say that some of these new cases, I think we are going to have an answer to that, like check with me in six months or a year, because one of these new cases, I think it's the Blick Art supply, but I am not 100% sure, but you can check in my post, is filed as a class action. Like I said, most of the legal stuff going on right now is whether or not the case should be thrown out of court. But once we get past that, we are going to start no doubt seeing things like should it be a class action. I haven't done -- I used to be a class action litigator. It's been a long time, so I really don't -- I don't want to say anything about that. But it is true, class actions generally are -- lend themselves when you have a common problem that affects a lot of people. It's just in this kind of case you might not need to do a class action to fix a common problem. Although I will say in some states where there's money, damages allowable for discrimination, a class action might be a strategy for getting money to more of the people.
Again, I just have to say right there, again, that this is not legal advice. If you think you have a class action lawsuit, you need to talk to a class action lawyer or call me and we will talk about structured negotiation.
Good point. Good point. Sonja, do we have any questions on the telephone line at this time?
There are no questions at this time.
All right. Thank you. We will continue with our questions that have been submitted in the Chat area and then some that have come in by email. Let me go to this one. The first one submitted here. Aside from the comprehensive website content accessibility guidelines, have a clearly defined set of minimal website standards been determined so that businesses can use that sort of and check to see if their websites are accessible?
Okay. Well, one thing is don't be daunted. I can sort of tell from the question -- don't be daunted by WCAG 2.0 AA. Yes, there's a lot of detail there, but if you look at the -- how to do it sections of it, you will see practical solutions to things. And here is another place to bring disabled people in. And that will give you a lot -- even without, you know, hiring a consultant, that will give you a lot of the big picture. You will see. I don't want to sit here and pick and choose what are the most important parts of WCAG because it is a comprehensive standard. It is a kind of user-generated standard. It's academics, business, advocates. Many, many, many hours that people put into making those standards. So I don't want to pick and chose and say, you know, do these five things and you will be fine. But just start. You know, it's like anything else in life. Don't be afraid of the enormity of it. Just start.
That's a great point, Lainey, especially for local government entities that may not have the resources to hire, you know, high-priced consultants, can reach out to the disability community just to do some testing on the usability of websites.
Yeah. I mean, one thing for people on this call who aren't disabled, one thing you can do, just to, like, start educating yourself, put away your mouse for 20 minutes. Because an accessible website is one that can be navigated with the keyboard only. Because a lot of people can't use a mouse. A lot of people can't see the mouse pointer. People with mobility issues in their hands can't necessarily hold a mouse. There's lots of reasons people can't use a mouse. And there's lots of websites that you can't get around without a mouse. So that's just one thing. And there's a lot of tools that you can put on your own browsers to, you know, just check things out, like color contrast analyzers or, you know, your headings -- for example, an accessibility principle is -- accessibility is really about good coding practices when you are talking about the coding part of it. And if you put your headings just in bold and you don't code them as headers in HTML, they are not going to be accessible to people. So you can get free tools to put on your browsers to see how do your headings look, and are they properly coded?
Great. So this person, another email question. In addition to the issue of accessibility, how do you address the issue of usability when you talk about websites? So for instance, when you talk about persons with other types of disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and where usability is as big an issue for someone with an intellectual disability as, you know, accessibility is for somebody that uses a screen reader or other assistive technology.
Yeah, that's a good question. You know, there's kind of a debate about that. You know, should we even have the word accessibility? Isn't it just about usability? And there's a lot of good work going on right now around cognitive -- issues of -- you could call it cognitive accessibility or you could call it usability. Again, that's why testing by disabled people is so important. Most of the legal activity has been around blind people and deaf people, and I think the reason the legal activity started with blind people is because the lack of access is such a show-stopper. There's no work-around if you can't hear what's on the screen because it's not coded. And then as more and more content went to video, same thing with deaf advocates. There's no work-around. If there's no captioning, you don't get the content. You know? You can't hear the emergency information in the video, you don't know it's time to leave your house. That kind of thing. So usability and accessibility are very closely related. I like using the word "accessibility." I want everybody -- yes, it's important for everyone. I think it's really important to remember that it's about disabled people, and accessibility helps everyone, and usability is key. And the best companies, when they do usability testing, they remember that users are disabled and that focus groups have to include disabled people, even if you are not talking about accessibility. And within the DNA of the company, these things have to be closely intertwined. But I am not in favor of dropping accessibility because I think the disability rights aspects of it are too important.
Great. Another -- Sonja, real quick, do we have anyone on the telephone? No. Okay. So here's another one from the Chat room, Lainey. So I am going to add a question to this. Do any of the state laws that you mentioned, do they address the private sector at all? And if so, this questioner wants to know how do state accessibility requirements apply to businesses that may have locations outside of the particular state where that has the accessibility requirements?
That I am going have to pass on that because that's like a real technical legal question, and it's a good question because websites cross state boundaries. My understanding has to do with it's the state -- I don't want to answer it. I think it's a state law where the person suffered the discrimination, but I don't know. But I see that on this list -- I just want to give a shout-out to Christina Lonnie, who is one of the lawyers behind the Seyfarth blog, and maybe you could do another one with her and I because she knows the answer to that question. It's kind of a technical legal thing that I don't want to answer.
Yeah, and we are getting to the bottom of the hour. One last quick question hopefully. A person emailed in wants to know how do federal laws apply to mobile apps that are used by transit agencies for riders to purchase tickets, check arrival times, etc.?
Yeah, again, we don't have any specific regulations under the ADA. Transit agencies are covered by the ADA. We did that agreement with the Houston Metro that covered their app in mobile. I would think in the transit agency, the best way -- again, this isn't legal advice -- but the best way to look at it is you are getting state funding, you are getting federal funding, you have the 504, whatever your requirements, you are giving information to the public, and the public includes disabled people. And you can't have participation without accessibility, whether it's on a mobile app or a kiosk or a website.
And that is a great way to end this session. Lots of information. If you did not get your question answered, do not hesitate to follow up with us. As a reminder, today's session is being recorded, and the archive will be made available within 24 hours, and an edited transcript will be available within seven business days. I want to thank Lainey, not just for the 90 minutes that she spent with us today providing lots of great information and answering some tough questions, but also the time that she put in preparing for today's session and doing some pre-training, spending time with us. So we really appreciate your time and information today. As a reminder, we have a session coming up in September. It is Facebook Friends-Workplace Enemies. Sounds intriguing. That will be a presentation by Joe Vanki from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC. That session will be taking place on Tuesday, September 19. You can get registration information and a full description of that session by visiting www.ada-audio.org. If you have any questions, you can reach us -- any questions about the Audio Conference Series by calling 877-232-1990. Again, a big thanks to Lainey for her presentation today, and a big thanks to all of you for participating. Hope that you found the information useful, and we hope to see you back here in September. Take care, and good day.
This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.