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Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if websites aren't accessible (latimes.com)
743 points by justadudeama 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 591 comments





Blind programmer here. Just a glimpse of my life. Blind people have to live in an environment where X% of web sites and programs are not accessible, where X varies somewhere from 20% (for web sites) to 50% (for desktop applications). That's just my approximation of the state of accessibility these days. Now imagine that you live in the world where you don't know which printer or wi-fi router to buy, since maybe half of them you won't be able to use. Imagine that you cannot order from some online stores. You cannot fly certain airlines. And apparently you cannot order some pizza online. Worst of all you don't magically know whether a web site is accessible or not. You just go to web site and try it, spend some time to learn the layout - it typically takes blind peple longer to familiarize with new web sites, spend thirty minutes to fill out the details of your order and then when you try to click the submit button, you figure out that it wouldn't click for some reason. Being a developer you open HTML code just to realize that this is some weird kind of button that can only be clicked with the mouse, but not a screenreader. But hey, your screenreader can route the mouse cursor to this button and simulate a click. So you try a real mouse click and it still doesn't work for some reason, and I have no idea why. Finally, you give up. I hope I managed to convey a typical sense of frustration with a web-site that is not that accessible. I do get arguments of other people that it might be hard for small businesses to make their web sites accessible. and I don't know where to draw a line, but I need to say that Domino's is a large enough company and even though I hate counting other companies' money, I must say they're big enough to be able to afford to make their web-site accessible.

Have you ever encountered any web sites that you feel went above and beyond in accessibility? I have sometimes wondered while debugging a site for accessibility concerns, fixing the nth input focus problem or what not, whether it would be preferable to actually just design an entirely separate optimized audible experience instead of forcing the user to infer the shape of a designed-for-sighted people website by tabbing all over the place. I imagine that a working implementation would roughly resemble a keyboard navigable phone menu, with the main point being that it would not necessarily correspond to the visual design, but would still offer all of the functionality expected and probably in a more efficient way. Is this a thing? Should it be a thing?

I think one problem with that approach is that blindness isn’t binary. Many registered blind people are partially sighted and use screen readers and other assistive tech to supplement low vision.

Another concern: as someone working on a large web development team, I think that maintaining a separate “non-visual” site would entrench a two-tier approach to quality and completeness (noticing and fixing issues, adding new features, etc). If you treat them as two separate applications they will inevitably diverge over time, despite best intentions. You might even end up with slightly different URL structures on each site, making it impossible for a blind user to find the corresponding audio version of a certain URL they found on social media, for example.


It seems to me that if this ruling is enforced and becomes accepted we may see a welcome move towards 'accessibility first' design - which would be an interesting paradigm shift for many devs.

I would welcome 'accessibility first' if it means people start thinking about 'semantics' again. 10-15 years ago, the web dev world was obsessed with semantics, separation of style and content, the idea you could just edit CSS to do a complete redesign (like csszengarden.com), and your markup could remain untouched, understandable by all devices present and future. I think this notion still holds some power, but it's obviously taken a hit with the component paradigm. The modern approach of 'sprinkle-on' accessibility doesn't work as well, and just feels like a messy extra step you have to do when building a feature. It was much better when people cared about baking it in from the ground up, through considered semantics and document outlines.

> it's obviously taken a hit with the component paradigm

Can you please explain how the component paradigm is at odds with semantic markup? Is it just that developers are now satisfied with the semantics being in their component names and props, and don't care if it actually gets rendered as undifferentiated divs?

My own hypothesis is that React gave developers permission to question some things that were previously deemed sacred in web development, and developers went too far with that. Using a component framework like React or Vue is not inherently at odds with producing good semantic markup.


> Is it just that developers are now satisfied with the semantics being in their component names and props, and don't care if it actually gets rendered as undifferentiated divs?

Basically, yes. Also, components often require extra div-nesting for robustness, and then there's the obfuscated classnames (CSS-in-JS), and the way responsiveness tends to be done these days (crude media query helper components that show/hide duplicated subsections of DOM for different devices). This all means the rendered DOM in devtools is bloated and hard to read anyway, so there's less point in caring about keeping it nice and clean.

Also, if you're mostly focused on building individual components, you probably don't feel as much ownership over the page as a whole, so you don't think about how your rendered DOM affects the document outline. Without that bigger picture, semantics isn't as interesting.


Popular web design frameworks like Bootstrap consider accessibility and encourage it in their documentation. See: https://getbootstrap.com/docs/4.3/getting-started/accessibil...

Are there any accessibility-first web design frameworks?


I think the United States Web Design System might fit in that category. It's made by the US Digital Services, and describes itself as "A design system for the federal government. We make it easier to build accessible, mobile-friendly government websites for the American public."

It's a well thought-out framework and from what I've read, accessibility was taken into account in the very first stage of the redesign of the new V2

https://designsystem.digital.gov/

Totally free since it's paid for with US tax dollars.


That kind of markup may also be useful for software analysis. Parsing prose is becoming tractable. Maybe Alexa or the (nameless) Google Assistant will be able to order the pizza for you. They're supposed to be able to do it over the phone.

This approach doesn't work. It has been tried in the past, and almost always produced the same result. The alternative version is not maintained, and after a while you end up with just a small selection of features to be useable for those which use the specially designed version. It will go out of sync, or the specially designed version will never get updated. This is the best way to create a ghetto.

Microsoft does a TON of work to make it's applications not only accessible, but user friendly to screenreader and keyboard users.

This is most obvious in the OneDrive online. The selectable list of files is implemented using Layout Grid, and thus is a single tab stop. Arrow keys can be used to navigate the grid and inline actions, and it's a single SHIFT-TAB to navigate up to the multi-selection actions.

There's ARIA controls and interactions that are defined in such a way that a non-sighted user can just hear what "type" of interaction it is and already know how to navigate it.


Ironically (I cannot seem to word this in my mind without sounding like an ass so please don't take offense), your comment is about 10 lines long on my 15 inch laptop making it somewhat difficult to read for us vision readers. A double new line every few sentences which causes a paragraph on hacker news makes it much easier.

I appreciate this feedback, I'll keep it in mind for my future comments.

And by the way, it is very common that people can't find words to give me feedback - happens pretty often. So I encourage people to give me feedback - no need to feel like ass :)


Mildly amusing. I definitely find this a little annoying too.

If you make the browser window narrower the eye has a lot less trouble moving from the end of one line back to the start of the next.

I like wide screens because they make it better for having two apps side by side, rather than one app full width .


Hacker News could easily set a max-width on the problematic items. Every designer (and so should every web developer) knows that the sweet spot for reading is around 60 characters and a column of text if readable between 40 and 60 characters. Check for example the free course from https://betterwebtype.com/

> Every designer (and so should every web developer) knows that the sweet spot for reading is around 60 characters and a column of text if readable between 40 and 60 characters.

That is interesting. For source code, I've always preferred maintaining a maximum line length of 80 characters. But there are plenty of people who prefer significantly longer line lengths because they feel it's more readable that way.


Source code is not text, it's all serialized trees and sequences. We don't write code in paragraphs.

If you make your browser window half width, or increase your text size, you may find it's easier to read. When I'm awake and focused, I can read smaller text across longer lines without problems. When I'm more tired, I need to increase the text size, bring the screen closer, make window widths smaller.

You may also benefit from getting your vision checked. This may be early stages of something occurring, and the sooner it's identified the better.


There's other cognitive issues here. I find reading from the screen difficult, CRT, LED, OLED, but I'm fine given e-ink. Any web pages with text more than a paragraph or so is sent to an e-reader for me, otherwise I just cannot comprehend the content. I can cope with snippets.

If you need more line spacing, then you can tell your browser to do that. Either a few minutes with userContent or an extension like https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/line-height-adjust...

And long lines are trivially helped by making the window less wide.

So you've provided a good demonstration about how vastly easier things are to adjust for someone that can see.


The problem isn't line spacing whatsoever, it's tracing which one of the 10 lines you are reading from one side of a screen to another as your read it.

Did you make your comment 3 paragraphs ironically?


> The problem isn't line spacing whatsoever, it's tracing which one of the 10 lines you are reading from one side of a screen to another as your read it.

Then make your window less wide. It's not the writer's problem.

> Did you make your comment 3 paragraphs ironically?

No, but I don't think it would be hard to read if it was one paragraph. That formatting is to add in small pauses, not to make it easier to read when lines wrap.


> That formatting is to add in small pauses

But... The lack of pauses is exactly what makes a tall paragraph hard to read?


Are you arguing that, or offering it as a potential argument? § That's not what mrep claimed made it hard to read. They said it was hard to trace lines. § And there are other ways of adding pauses, on top of those pauses not being very necessary in the first place. I could do without them just fine. § More generally, as long as a big paragraph is focused on one topic, and nobody is doing a point-by-point reply, it works just fine.

I am arguing that, and it's also how I read mrep's comment: it's a wall of text with no clear pauses, making it hard to read.

And if those §'s are your other ways of adding pauses, then those are entirely insufficient for inserting pauses for most readers, including me: we're not trained to read those characters as pauses.

Sure, there might be other ways. But they're not applied, making the comment harder to follow for some people than it would be had it been subdivided into paragraphs, and mrep was merely helpfully pointing that out in case mltony wanted to keep those people in mind in the future.

But good for you that you're not one of those people, I guess.


> those are entirely insufficient for inserting pauses

Pretend I said "indicator of separation" instead of "pause" then.

> Sure, there might be other ways. But they're not applied, making the comment harder to follow for some people than it would be had it been subdivided into paragraphs, and mrep was merely helpfully pointing that out in case mltony wanted to keep those people in mind in the future.

By talking about "other ways" to mark a logical separation, I think you're on a completely different argument than mrep. mrep is saying that it's physically hard to track the lines when reading, which is entirely a function of line length and spacing. mrep's problems would be solved if I started adding newlines in the middle of sentences, even though that would make things worse in terms of subdividing into coherent paragraphs.


Then I think we have a different interpretation of mrep's point. (Where my interpretation has going for it that mrep themselves isn't even doing what you're saying they want.)

> Then make your window less wide. It's not the writer's problem.

Exactly. Not all we want and need to tell other people can be reduced to tweets. whoever has the windows maximised on a desktop has another option, and the paragraph was never a 140 character slogan.


Problem is that tabbed interfaces make window resizing harder.

Bring back MDIs (maybe)!


It’s the opposite: if you insist on keeping your browser maximized that can mean that you probably need all the width on some other site which scales poorly.

I never keep my browser maximized.


As a reference, I maximize my browsers when I'm using developers tools or when I'm using pseudo desktop web apps, usually customer mandated. I'm thinking about Kanbanize, Trello, almost all of Google, Travis, etc. Apps that display a lot of information.

HN and other text based sites are more readable in narrower windows or on a phone.

HN on a phone suffers when comments are deeply nested (this one) and when somebody quotes text using spaces as of it was a block of code.


Nope, problem is each window may need a different sizing. With a tabbed interface you resize the lot.

For those with your use cases the browsers should allow “per site” saved local margins.

Bur it seems the ad delivery has the priority.

I simply have a separate browser window for “wide development” sites. I see nothing wrong with that.


Tree-Style-Tabs (Firefox extension) prevents this issue.

Just tried out Tree style tabs, how does this prevent this issue? I have two pages in two tabs open. To read one I resize the window, I go to the other it has been resized also.

I have such bad eyesight that I gave up my driver's license. I didn't find it that burdensome to read the comment in question.

You might want to get your eyes checked or read up on other disabilities that can impair reading ability even if your eyesight is fine. If you feel so impinged upon that it makes sense to you to ask a blind person to accommodate your needs and problems, you may have an unidentified handicap.

https://www.thevisiontherapycenter.com/discovering-vision-th...

http://www.visuallearningcenter.com/9-signs-your-child-may-h...


> so impinged upon

I greatly doubt it was anything more than mildy irritating and the grandparent never implied otherwise.

It's annoying for me to read and I have perfect vision.

Being blind doesn't make you immune to an expectation to be accomodating to others.


So the GP volunteers unasked for feedback and that's cool. I do the exact same thing they did and somehow that makes me the asshole?

I already covered the fact that tracking problems can be due to reasons other than poor eyesight. I even provided supporting links for that assertion.

Part of my background is working for an educational organization that catered to the needs of gifted kids, including twice exceptional kids. It was common for early readers to have tracking problems and for parents to share practical tips on how to cope, as well as talk about at what point to get concerned and get the kids checked for something else.


> somehow that makes me the asshole?

Um. No?

I don't think anyone implied you were. :S


Sounds like a pain in the ass.

In the case of websites... two years ago I started adopting a11y into my front-end code. But while plugins like eslint-plugin-jsx-a11y make the job easier, it honestly was also a huge pain in the ass familiarizing myself with the grotesque state of affairs in web accessibility standards.

However, one of the biggest gains might have been learning to properly leverage every HTML tag to its fullest. Modern day SPAs have all gone back to using wild div forests with no context or metadata available for readers. This also took much less effort than learning the rest of standards compliance. So start there!

After crossing that river, I think that accessibility is complex enough to warrant its own dedicated developer for almost any project if standards are to be achieved.

Still... until our bosses catch up, we do what we can. Here are some great resources for developers who wish to learn more about how to design for accessibility: https://a11yproject.com/resources/#further-reading

P.S. Is it a reasonable heuristic to assume a reader with no visual formatting in their comments might have a good chance of being blind?


> P.S. Is it a reasonable heuristic to assume a reader with no visual formatting in their comments might have a good chance of being blind?

As far as I can recall, most of the blind folks on HN don't post big walls of text. Maybe younger blind people who grew up with text-to-speech and never learned braille are more likely to do that. To me, that would be a good reason for screen readers to deliberately pause for a bit between paragraphs.


Interestingly, I did learn braille. However, I didn't really learn to use paragraphs until 6th grade. Therefore, it doesn't come very naturally to me.

Is there a lint-like tool that you would recommend to developers to scan their web application for accessibility issues (and ideally suggest alternative best-practices)?

EDIT: found this Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List with 132 items listed! Anyone have advice on which ones are best?

https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/


On a related note, our app has a lot of charts. What are the best practices for making time-series graphs accessible? I'd imagine just listing the values wouldn't be particularly helpful for graphs with hundreds or more points - and being able to programmatically summarize the interesting takeaways from an arbitrary chart would probably be useful for our sighted customers as well.

Just pondering whether there is a system that converts line graphs into series of rising and falling tones, while a voice reads out the x axis markers.

If you have multiple series, you could have different sounds running in parallel - sin wave, square wave or perhaps musical instruments each denoting a different series.

That might actually be usable if there was an automated system for creating them on the fly.

There's also this kind of approach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9lquok4Pdk


Highcharts has put a lot of effort into designing charts to be accessible. They did a presentation about it at my workplace a few months ago and I was impressed by the passion and level of user testing they had done.

https://www.highcharts.com/docs/accessibility/accessibility-... is a good starting point to learn more about the sorts of features and considerations they've made (you can find articles, demos, and videos describing more from there)


Sarah Newman from prgmr.com here. It's funny you should ask this - we just kicked off an effort a week ago to work on this problem. We don't even have a website yet for the software, but please feel free to watch audiplot.org for future developments.

I’d be interested to hear more about this as well

My team at Microsoft maintains an open source browser extension for this called Accessibility Insights (https://accessibilityinsights.io), which is what Microsoft recommends internally for its own teams developing websites.

It offers a fast 5 minute scan for some of the most common/easily detectable issues, and also a much fuller assessment with a mix of automated checks and guided/assisted manual tests that aims to help web developers who aren't accessibility experts achieve full WCAG 2.1 AA compliance.

Happy to answer any questions about it!


I use https://khan.github.io/tota11y/ which you can add to your browser to run through your site. I also sometimes just close my eyes and run a screen reader through a site to see if I could navigate it reasonably. Neither of these options helps with catching everything but they're better than nothing.

For that, you need to know all the quick navigation shortcuts a screen reader can use. Otherwise you're not doing it very efficiently.

The lint tool in create-react-app does this out of the box. :)

A Chrome extension I've used is Siteimprove Accessibility Checker https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/siteimprove-access...

We use WAVE tool internally, but it may not be the 'coolest'

Is there some kind of "Yelp for websites for blind people"? In other words, a web site for blind people that lets you know whether a given site works with your screen reader? It seems like it could be a big time saver.

None that I'm aware of. The problem is checking whether a web site is accessible is a manual operation and therefore time-consuming. And it often happens that companies break accessibility, and then they fix it, and then they break it again...

Interesting. Accessibility sounds like an important indexing signal for search engines. At internet scale companies this seems pitch-worthy to discuss building some training data annotated and building out some automated indexing engine for accessible only filter for results.

Google do reward you for following web accessibility best practices, but it doesn't know if the actual experience is accessible.

I wanted to work on it, I even have a domain for it bought already, though other things in life, procrastination among them, stopped me for now. I will do it someday, though.

It there is one, I hope they made it styled with black on black text and/or with a braille font!

My guess is that your comment is satire, but you should be aware that 'accessible' doesn't just mean 'accessible to blind people' - among other issues, some people have reduced motor function, others can't see contrast as well as the typical human eye.

WCAG is, from what I can tell, a reasonably good starting point and even attempting to do _some_ things and being generally aware is better than not doing anything at all. Give the guidelines a read, https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/


I'm not blind but I'm laughing from reading your annecdote because: I'm a developer with typical accessability requirements who has a similar experience ordering pizza online and winds up calling ;-)

Easy to read/follow menu, and a phone call isn't that hard, with front door payment.

Online shopping experiences vary widely. I love it when the interface isn't even noticed/gets out of your way.


Hey, thank you for your insight into the life of blind users. I have often wondered if my sites that I've been part of building have been accessible but without proper guidance or customer requirements, nobody has really cared that much to check out.

Lately I have been part of building a quite popular website in my native country, and this time, as I have had more autonomy than before, decided to go ahead and add as much accessibility helping markup and proper elements as possible. Eg. everything that can be clicked is now a button (no more divs with onClick-handlers) and by the way, is adding tabIndex to divs even sufficient for triggering clicks? Since by default the Enter-key is not bound to trigger the click-event for elements other than buttons and links (I assume).

Anyway, I went ahead and added as much accessibility I could, but some things were bit too much of extra work that I decided not to add them. So I was just wondering, how bad is it when modals don't automatically capture the focus and you can't really travel into them unless moving all the way to end of the document (where the element lies)? From what I glanced from the aria spec, the focus should immediately move into the modal and get trapped where you can only by invoking an action (eg esc-key, click x-button or submit) dismiss them.

Also how important are the aria-labels for buttons and such? Should everything worth noticing be annotated? Or can you guess from say the button text what they are for. Also I read somewhere that inputs should always have labels, but sometimes it's problematic to add them eg dates with three inputs with only one label "Birthdate". Can I supplement the label with some aria-property instead?

Sorry for asking so many long questions, these things have been on my mind a lot and I really haven't had anyone to tell me if the accessibility fields I have added were correct or not. It's quite annoying how confusing the spec is and how difficult it's to know if the aria properties are correct/make sense or not. Eg how many aria-haspopup etc properties should a dropdown have and which of its elements have which.


Not GP, but dev learning a11y too.

I'm just going though a web course on this which is pretty good.

https://www.udacity.com/course/web-accessibility--ud891

I think moving focus into the modal is pretty helpful

Here's the video on focus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoAsayPVogE&t=65

You can set tabindex="-1" on the header of the dialog, and move focus to that. (Also set outline: none on the dialog, but not anything else). Then you can just call focus() on it, which isn't too hard.

I think it's okay if you don't remove the ability to focus on all the background stuff if the focus is at least moved into the modal.

I think for aria-labels for buttons, the best way to check this is to either use chromevox/ a screenreader and see what it says for the button. You can also inspect element, and go to the aria tab in chrome dev tools, and see what aria name is computed. You can see the order it takes them from, with aria-labelledby, aria-label, then contents.

If the name is reasonable, then you don't need a aria-label at all.


Thanks, a lot appreciated!

I actually work more in backend area, so I am not that familiar with accessibility standards in HTML. I am only a user there. But looks like others have already answered some of your questions.

No problem, and I'm happy that this came up so that I can try my best to make things better for users like you :).

I have a question for you that I've always wondered about the answer, but I do not know anyone to which to pose the question.

How accessible is a basic, plain vanilla, semantic HTML document? I.e., a fully server side rendered HTML doc that uses paragraph and heading and so forth tags for what they semantically mean. Are those type pages accessible, or is more work required to make them accessible?


Thank you for your insight. One thing that I've wondered for a while is, what do you do about captchas? The whole point of them is to prevent access to the webpage unless a person sees the graphic. Can you sue Google under ada?

Google's recaptcha is actually somehow really good - you just click on the checkbox and somehow it magically understands that you're a human, even when using a screenreader. Other websites have audio captcha. In the worst case, you can install a captcha-solving browser extension - they are typically 90% accurate.

> Google's recaptcha is actually somehow really good - you just click on the checkbox and somehow it magically understands that you're a human,

Unless it doesn't. Yes, it gives you an audio captcha. No, it's not a good solution, as it's in english only, and a pretty good command of the language is required to solve it, especially now.

If you use TOR for some reason (nosy admin in my case). They always ask you to solve the challenge, but when you click audio, you get a spoken prompt saying "this computer is sending too many automated requests, so audio captchas have been blocked". I don't know who you'd need to sue, though. Either Google for not providing you the audio version, Cloudflare from preventing you access (and outsourcing the verification to Google), or the website itself for getting Cloudflare protection.


A. Whoever has the most $$, or B. (More likely), whoever is in charge of the element/component that is blocking accessibility. Since recaptcha is an embed that would be Google.

Newer recaptcha uses your google account as a heuristic if you’re logged in.

A disabled person should not need to opt into a google account to be able to browse the web

Not only a disabled person...

I think they have audio?

Pardon my curiosity, did you type this on a keyboard by touch typing? If so how do you recognize and correct typos? Or did you use speech recognition? Same question about handling errors.

I'd like to make sites I build more accessible, but I must admit I'm only familiar with the bare minimal guidelines I've read in a couple articles. I don't even know if they're correct or up to date. Nobody I've worked for has ever made this a priority, so I'm quite ignorant on the subject.


> Pardon my curiosity, did you type this on a keyboard by touch typing? If so how do you recognize and correct typos?

I'm merely a sighted user here, but I can personally attest that when you've mastered touch-typing, you can tell when you make a mistake and correct it without needing to look at the screen. It is a bit of an eerie feeling the first time you do it.

Full disclosure: I touch-typed this reply, and I made five mistakes when doing so, and fixed all of them without looking at the screen.


I've touch-typed for 20 years and sometimes a random friend (whose job isn't related to computers) catches me doing it and is either amazed or thinks I'm showing off. To me, I'm just typing. Like other commenters, I also self-correct while doing it.

I never learned touch typing, so I was unaware of that. I pick type with both hands without looking at the keyboard, but I have to look at what I'm typing on the screen to know when I've made a typo.

Yes, touch-typing. I feel when my fingers hit two keys at the same time - that's the time to go back and check the previous word for spelling mistakes. And I use screenreader to read things for me.

Just to agree with the other's reply here: I am not blind, but do touch typing. Sometimes I don't even look at the screen or keyboard since I've learned to copy things (Such as a paper I've written by hand). You do get to a point where you develop a "sense of typo" and can simply correct the mistake.

It has its limitations: It doesn't help you spell better, only correct typing mistakes.


Typing class expected me to look at the sample I was typing, not at my own output. Being able to accurately type without looking at your output is a standard expectation for sighted people.

I don't know if this would even be possible but, since you're a programmer and all, it would be cool if you built a small webapp/task-based game for people who aren't vision-impaired to try to navigate and experience the frustrations you experience every day. A gallery full of mystery photos, random buttons that needed to be clicked a weirdly specific way or don't work at all.

We wrote a free screen reader simulator for this purpose (Chrome plugin):

https://silktide.com/resources/toolbar

It’s not a substitute for real-world testing, but it should help you appreciate the basics without having to learn a full screen reader.

We’re also working on some accessibility games right now (scores challenges for you to complete in a browser with a simulated disability), which sound a lot like what you’re suggesting.


I was surprised to find myopia here. Is there a level of myopia that can't be corrected with glasses and thus is a disability?

Pathological myopia can't be corrected with glasses.

TBH we call it "myopia" in the plugin because it's short and what we think most users would understand. Many visual disabilities cause a similar blurring effect, such as cataracts.


This is great. Until now I've been using ChromeVox, but found it quite difficult to use. Many esoteric keyboard shortcuts, some of which conflict with other browser functionality.

Toolbar seems a lot easier to to use for sighted developers. Less of a learning curve.

Oddly M doesn't seem to jump to the main content for me. I wonder if I've done something wrong. I'm going to play with it.

Thanks for developing this!


Just install a screen reader and close your eyes.

On iOS you can also enable the “Screen Curtain” to see how well voiceover will do: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201443

Yep when I was doing accessibility dev, that was exactly how I tested. It's pretty effective and it also gives you a feel for how crappy the tools are for the blind.

what is the learning curve like for screen readers? ...and what form does documentation come in? I'd like to learn but not sure where to get started.

You can figure out the basics in about 20-60 minutes.

If you use a Mac, just enable VoiceOver: https://www.apple.com/voiceover/info/guide/_1121.html

If you use Windows, I suggest NVDA - it's a free screen reader that's similar to the most-popular-but-expensive one (JAWS): https://www.nvaccess.org/download/

IMHO the best screen readers are on your phone / tablet. This might sound crazy (how can a touchscreen work when you can't see it?) but they're much better designed than their desktop equivalents. Mobile software tends to be simpler, resulting in a better experience:

iOS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDm7GiKra28

Android: https://support.google.com/accessibility/android/answer/6007...

If you work in web tech and take 1-2 hours to learn one of these you'll be able to dazzle others with it for the rest of your life.


Cool, I didn't even know that was a thing I could do. I suppose I imagined screen readers as some sort of expensive software.

The open source ones are basically as good as the for-pay ones at this point.

I wonder whether there's a tool that could make websites tactile. Like, a pad with pins that can be programmatically raised and touched, and are used for drawing the website's layout. You could put your hands on it, touch it and feel the layout of the website, scroll around, and eventually click your selection. It can substitute braille font for the font used on the website.

There's an idea for this called the Braille e-book. I don't think anyone's actually brought one to market, though.

In your opinion, what major sites are doing it right?

Websites from big IT companies tend to be good: Google, GMail, Youtube, Facebook, Amazon, Bing.

Interestingly, the primary surprise in your comment is that you say that just about 20% of website are not accessible - I'd have expected that percentage to be far higher! Of course, there's a difference between "usable" and "easy to use", I guess.

As a note, for any sighted developers (like me) reading along: I'd highly recommend you to spend half an hour to learn and practice navigating software with a screen reader some time. It's a relatively easy step that gives you a lot of insight into low-hanging fruit in terms of accessibility improvements.

(Also, keep in mind that accessibility is not just vision impairments. Things like small click targets can make things a lot harder for people with motor issues, e.g. many elderly people.)


As a developer, can you weigh in on why you think it might be hard for small businesses to make their web sites accessible? Are there inherent technical challenges that make it difficult to make accessible websites? Or is it that there's a constant churn of new front-end technologies that typically treat accessibility as an afterthought, and typically leave accessibility as an afterthought that will finally get properly nailed down just in time for the next new technology to come along? Or is it business problems such as the client demanding some overdesigned user experience that can only be accomplished by manually implementing non-standard input elements?

You don't need any non-standard input elements to make web site accessible. In fact the opposite is true: if you only use standard HTML elements, chances are your web-site is going to be fully accessible. It is when developers decide to use some fancy javascript instead of a standard button, or some other fancy form controls, with tons of javascript, this is when screenreaders tend to have problems trying to figure out what's going on.

For small businesses I imagine the biggest problem is that they only have only one engineer to support a web site, and he is not familiar with accessibility standards (justifyably so, because there are so few blind people out there), and he'd have to learn these standards and test the web site for accessibility problems - all these actions require time.


Yeah. Sorry for being unclear, but that's what I was thinking: My hunch is that standard HTML elements tend to be accessible almost by default, while non-standard JavaScript-heavy things are more likely to be inaccessible by default.

And my other hunch is that using standard HTML elements is actually a less expensive way to build websites. But I'm not sure on that. I haven't touched front end in a long time.


Buttons simply doing nothing happens all the time, sometimes reloading the page makes them work, other times the site is complete broken and it’s time to move on.

You really think it's aroun 20% though? I very rarely have problems. Sure learning layouts is interesting, but problems where I flat out can't do something is rare. I'd have to agree that it's more the case when it comes to desktop applications. I'll download something and not be able to use it at all.

Thank you for sharing. For you what are the best resources out there to learn how to do a proper design for blind people or having other disabilities? Also do you have some examples of website done right in UX for blind people? Like for instance I remember using tab on Youtube and they placed a very handy hidden `Skip Navigation` button after 2 tabs that makes navigation faster and easier. Do you have example of that?

Why wouldn't a blind person just call for a pizza?

Exactly the same reasons why a sighted person wouldn't.

There was also special deals which promoted the use of the online form.

Fewer errors from people mishearing you too.


Lol I do that.

The demo part of this video by Tanja Kleut https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHgZTeMBihQ make me understand better accessibility issues. Without understanding and experiencing, I think it's difficult to really empathize and so the priority to have better accessibility is seen as low.

I'm sure a bunch of people have inundated you with other questions, but what other pain points do you have? How are Docx and PDF to deal with?

Microsoft Word is fully accessible. As for PDFs, as long as they are not scanned, most likely they are accessible. Sometimes forms in PDF files are not very accessible.

And also every now and then I need to read a science paper in PDF format - somehow they still haven't figure out how to make accessible formulas in Latex-generated PDFs, so I'd have to use an OCR called InftyReader to OCR this PDF to get the formulas.

In my experience the worst offenders are drivers for printers and scanners. Every time my printer runs out of ink on my computer it'll show me a dialog, that my screenreader doesn't recognize at all. So by the presence of empty window I'll have to deduce that it's running out of ink. Scanner driver is completely inaccessible, so I had to get a linux box just to use my scanner - at least all the command-line tools are accessible.


As for PDF accessibility, it heavily depends on used language. In English it's usually ok, but I saw countless PDFs (some of them written in TeX) in other languages that render ok, but the text actually consists of letters followed by appropriate diacritical mark.

Or those image PDFs that you have to use OCR with and then you get to try and clean them up afterwards because they didn't come out as cleartext. Those are always fun!

I'd like to make sure I'm testing more of the website that I work on to make sure they're as accessible as possible.

I want to do more than just run sites through validators. Is JAWS still a good accessibility program to test with? Are there other major accessibility programs I should be testing with?


The big three are Jaws and NVDA for Windows and VoiceOver for Mac. You probably don't need to test with all three every time since they are similar in terms of what kind of content they can access on the pages. But each of them has its own quirks, there are web-pages that only one of them can read.

That's great. I can push to rotate between those three on deployments.

I've typically only tested with one, so it'd be good to ensure there's nothing weird with others.

Thanks!


There are so many great tools out there now. Lighthouse in Chrome Devtools has an Access audit built in which will give you a few hints. There's also a very useful auditor that just came out from Paciello Group called the Arc toolkit: https://www.paciellogroup.com/toolkit/. Chromevox and Voiceover can be turned on to get quick screenreader-ish feedback.

No Coffee: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nocoffee/jjeeggmbn... is quite useful to get a non-scientific empathy hit for graphic decisions and how that interacts with common sight problems (98% of people by age 51 have presbyopia) and Sim Daltonism: https://michelf.ca/projects/sim-daltonism/ will give you a more accurate representation of all the most common colour blindnesses (1 in 12 men).

I also urge everyone to turn ON tabbing on their Mac (System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts tab > All Controls) and tab into their sites (unplug your mouse). I also often do a run through with Vimium: https://vimium.github.io/ which gives me some aspects of a voice interaction type system.

These tools will get you some of the way there, though there are established ways to build components which will solve 90% of all known access problems. The main solution is simply to write native HTML. A major issue is how hard it is to style native form elements (like datalist) -- it means developers can't get it past design/clients.


I’m not the parent comment, but VoiceOver and NVDA are great text-to-speech screen readers.

not trying to be an asshole but how long did it take to type this comment? do you use some sort of voice to text software?

To be fair: I can type pretty easily without looking at the keyboard. I am typing this sentence with my eyes closed, even fixing a typo while I do it. Touch typing solves a lot of this and a tab helps to hit the reply button.

IIRC, the screen readers will read back texts you just typed as well, but I'm not sure that is as necessary since most folks can get by with typing just fine.


I never even thought about this before, you gave me a little eye opener, thank you

Thank you for a glimpse into your perspective.

What do you think of the multiple voice assistants out there? Do you think that would be an acceptable alternative or tradeoff if Domino made a bot to take orders?


Curious, not trying to be a jerk. For something like ordering pizza (or even plane tickets), how much worse is calling to make the order as opposed to ordering online?

It depends. If I know I'll make an order only once, calling phone is probably easier. If that's a pizza, and say I have expectation that I might be ordering same pizza every week or every month, then ordering through website is easier, since you can save your credit card information there instead of repeating it on the phone every time. But even for one-time orders it is good to have an accessible site, since what I mentioned above - I would waste my time if the web site is not accessible. I assume if they had put a notice on their web site saying that it is not accessible for screenreaders - please call this number instead - that would be already a better solution rather than just an inaccessible web site.

Thanks for the response.

From another angle here, I occasionally have problems that make me use a screenreader.

When the nerves that make my eyes work stop behaving correctly, it's also normal for the nerves in my throat to flip out so that speaking feels like breathing razor blades.

Making a call isn't an option, but using a web browser still is, if they haven't gone out of their way to break all the ways a web browser is supposed to behave.


Same. I have severe convergence insufficiency (that is highly variable and cannot be corrected, from a practical standpoint) due to a rare immune-mediated neurological disease.

I either use Kurzweil 3000 (Windows|Mac|Browser) (paid)|JAWS (Windows) (paid)|Voice Dream Reader (iOS|Android)| VoiceOver (iOS) (free)| Talkback (free), depending on what I am doing and how my much my eyes are affecting me at that moment.

I taught myself braille and I have a couple of refreshable braille displays, which I use, depending on how well my eyes are working.

I can digitize printed material well, including STEM material, using a program called InftyReader (Windows).

It is no fun, but you have to do what you have to do.


Blind people are the same as everyone else, but with reduced vision. So when you ask "Why don't blind people just call?" you actually need to be asking "Why don't I just call?" Blind people will have the same reasons.

If they didn't have online only deals wouldn't providing a person to talk to meet their burden of enabling that user?

Most people I know prefer to use an online system to avoid talking to people especially if there's a complex process or lots of information to enter. Blind people feel the same way. A phone based option is not "offering the same service" to blind people.

If there was an online system that only worked with screen readers and the company said "sighted users can just call instead" I wouldn't use that company, and if they had the best price offering I'd be very annoyed. Making an inaccessible website is exactly the same.


But maybe the commentor does just call? I usually do for pizza because pizza websites suck even for people with typical vision. IME.

I’m not blind. But I would be furious if I had to call to place an order rather than submit a web form, merely because the site couldn’t be bothered to adhere to basic standards and instead used meth-addled “code artisans” practicing resume-driven development.

Coming from somebody who is disabled: this is what life is like for a disabled person.

There are many, many indignities that we encounter, even nearly constantly due to the way society ignores our needs.

If you go and check out some disabled activists' Twitter accounts, you may be shocked at the anger and the lack of "decency". But, put yourself in their shoes, and realize that they have been forced to deal with systematic and near-constant indignities, and many of them have been forced to fight for their mere existence as human beings.


I agree with such activists. It's stupid to have to make a phone call when a website should be perfectly capable for this role.

While I don't claim to know what such disabilities are like, I feel I have experienced analogous frustrations. Back when Linux on the desktop and Firefox were catching on, I remember it being a crapshoot about whether critical sites (like banks and tax filing) would play nice with non-IE browsers, and I had to have a PC/Windows/IE setup as a fallback. Same issue: the use the meth-addled design that breaks any non-mainstream clients.

I also use Tridactyl (and before it, Vimium and pentadactyl), an extension that lets you click links from the keyboard, which is a huge UI improvement and (along with other keyboard input methods) speeds up web browsing significantly. It's generally good at detecting links, but the same sloppy design and over-clever features make clickable elements undetectable and frustrate this enhancement.

And for the kicker ... often times, these improvements "for the disabled" end up benefiting everyone else even more, but designers/buisdev people don't get it! See my previous comment about the Curb Cut Effect [1].

The web was designed with screen readers in mind. It is a serious regression to find major sites telling blind users to call in. This isn't the 60s.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21195054


What standards should those sites adhere to?

Are those standards sufficiently complete as to be referenced by regulatory agencies?

If so, what's keeping us from adopting standards or at least recommendations for legal compliance?

I think that Domino's assertion is that the current framework is too vague, but I regularly see the argument that there are standards to follow. So... What are those standards, and why aren't they law?


WCAG 2.1

Yes.

Shrug.

See above.


Obviously you should just be allowed to use the same services as everyone else. The web is accessible by design, so all sites that are not accessible are broken. The people that made them broke them.

But, just for the sake of your curiosity, American Airlines charge $35 per ticket[1] when you call them to book.

[1] https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-service/support/optional-se...


There's no way they don't wave that fee for blind customers.

Domino's wouldn't give Robles the online price according to other articles.

Did they really go through an expensive legal process defending themselves in court rather than discount a large pizza by 10%?

Stupid franchisee. I kept a coupon active for years after the promo ended for one guy. He liked his $11.99 Veggie lovers. The coupon was hidden, but if you manually typed the code, it worked. I called him personally after he complained to corporate about the promo ending. I walked him through how to get the deal and he ordered weekly until I sold the store. The new owners deactivated all old promos. He had my cell phone number, so I got to find out, after I sold the store, thst he now orders Papa John's.

Source: former multi-store, multi-Rolex winning Domino's franchisee.


How much did it cost you to keep providing the discounted price?

It was $5 cheaper than regular menu price. But he ordered a literal 100 times a year with the coupon, tipped the delivery driver $5 every time and the order still was more profitable than $15 of chicken wings.

Once the coupon left, he went to the competition. I used to spend about $1,000 a month in advertising just to get a few new customers to call. Keeping the ones you have is orders of magnitude cheaper, even if they complain about "cold pizza" once a month or so to get a free pie.


Not only that but Domino's "look forward to presenting our case at the trial court."

Rather than working with community groups to help each other find a workable solution.


There's also no guarantee the service desk will be open or responsive when you want it.

To be honest, Domino’s pizza ain’t good. You probably better off this way.

I'm curious. How do you handle typos in code? Say you're working on a team, and they've got a lot of foreign devs who mis-spell words like color with o u r.

Or they just mistype something and leave it... but your screenreader reads it and you hear/know how to spell it so you introduce bugs because you're using correct or localized spellings of a variable name when everywhere else in the code uses the incorrect or other-localized version?


It isn't a mis-spell. Color is used primarily in U. S. Rest of the English speaking world uses colour.

yeah but my point being if half the team is uk and half is U.S. and you have a blind programmer on each team.

You could see where there could be some major nomenclature issues.

Of course a good design policy could help, but someone still can mis-spell something, or even just caps in the wrong place.

Someone might make: const Sidebar and someone else calls it SideBar.

My main question is how do blind programmers deal w/ these sort of issues, I think that would be the hardest thing not being able to see.

Hell, I've mis-spelled something before and took me awhile to figure out that was what was breaking things.

Of course maybe using statically typed languages and things could help.

I'm sure their also tooling I'm unaware of, but definitely curious how they navigate these type of scenarios.


I once inherited code written in Spanish and I knew just enough to figure out how to maintain it. Definitely slowed me down a ton but I learned more of a real language while coding! I wouldn't recommend it though for any serious application haha. Back in the day it was on Flash and classic ASP which were both new to me too. Back then you didn't handpick your projects. You just took them and figured them out. I'd attribute a lot of my success from plunging into those types of things.

Yeah, I worked a lot on software written by russians, ukrainiens and chinese; basically the software has no usable comments for me (translation software was not helpful back then) and a lot of variable and method names were wrongly spelled english or ascii (not cyrillic etc) written russsian etc. It had a solid feeling of being obfuscated code a lot of the time. Fun times.

It’s reasonable to standardise on a flavour of English that you want your code and comments to be written in. For some teams, that’ll be US English and all developers should be expected to abide by that standardisation. For other teams it’ll be British English and US developers would be expected to meet the common coding standard too.

Screen readers are modal and I believe e.g. JAWS has a character-by-character mode to spell out the character that's under the cursor. Aside from that, from what I saw in a conference presentation, sight impaired users can use tools like Intellisense.

Small personal story:

My father is an amazing salesman. He used to sell for Schwan's food in the 90's (those big yellow trucks that delivered frozen food to your door every 2 weeks).

He had a blind couple (husband and wife) that were on one of his routes, and they bought a little bit of food every time he came by. But they could never read the menu, because Schwan's only had printed brochures. One day, he had me and my siblings record on audio cassette the entire menu and their prices.

His sales from that couple shot through the roof! All of the sudden, there were all of these options for sale that they didn't even know about before, and now they wanted to try them. From that time forward, they were very faithful and consistent customers. And, of course, they were very appreciative of the gesture!

Every 6 months or so, when Schwan's updated their menu and/or pricing, we would re-record the menu, until Schwan's finally figured out an audio offering of their own.

A few years ago, my father ran into the couple when he happened to pass through their town (my father no longer sells for Schwan's, but now sells insurance and investments). The couple remembered and asked about each of us children by name, these decades later.

It's neat to see how just a little consideration (and a bit of extra work) can make a huge impact on someone else's life!


This happens more often than you might think: by doing basic steps to make your product usable, it suddenly becomes much more useful and in-demand than you anticipated. More examples are:

- Force businesses/streets to add a curb lip for wheelchairs -> Stars above, suddenly it's easier to accept deliveries and bring in luggage!

- Optimize site for slow connections, suddenly you have a torrent of previously-unserved customers. [1]

Edit: Turns out it's called the Curb Cut Effect:

https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/the-curb-cut-...

[1] Summary at this HN discussion, follow through to the story for more details. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13601977


I'm curious as to how they knew what was what when their order came given it's all frozen food in bags/boxes with the instructions printed on the packaging on how to reheat/cook it. That seems like a much larger hurdle than ordering.

As I recall, they had their own system for how they stored food, so that they knew what was what.

Honestly, I don't remember how they took care of the cooking details, but I remember my father telling me that they talked about one of the hardest things that they had to learn to do in the blind school was to be able to cook meat, because they had to go by the sound it made while cooking in order to determine how done it was.


Great story! Thx for sharing :)

Is this argument for government regulation or against? I see ss an argument against, but I’m sure most people disagree.

I actually thought about this very question when I was writing the story.

Truthfully, I don't have an agenda.

I can see, though, how easy it would be for someone to use this story to back up their particular viewpoint, when, in fact, it was just a memory about an experience that I had as a child... A memory that I didn't realize had such a big impact until decades later.


It's just a nice story.

Awesome story. Very touching.

Despite the somewhat misleading headline, the Supreme Court didn't really say anything new here. They declined to hear Domino's appeal of the Ninth Circuit's (unanimous and clearly correctly decided) reversal of the District Court's absurd dismissal.

Domino's tried to claim that their due process rights were being violated since there is no federally-mandated standard for accessibility. But the ADA is clear: businesses have a legal requirement to ensure that disabled customers have "full and equal enjoyment" of their goods and services. Domino's made the tenuous argument that the lack of a specific standard meant that they didn't receive fair notice.

Robles, the plaintiff, argued that the appropriate standard to apply was WCAG 2.0. Instead of offering a different possible standard (which would have been a defensible legal rationale), Domino's position was basically, "fuck off".

It's really not hard to make your websites accessible at a basic level. Follow the standards. Make sure your content and markup are reasonably semantic. Use standard form components for data entry. Where more complex, visual-first designs are employed, make sure there are text-based fallbacks.

If you are a professional software developer, doing this is not just your legal responsibility, it's your moral responsibility.


> It's really not hard to make your websites accessible at a basic level. Follow the standards.

Do you follow the standards? If you show me a web site that you've developed I'll show you a site with multiple violations of WCAG 2.0. Hell, JAWS' own site is littered with WCAG violations! Yes, "accessibility at the basic level" is easy but WCAG 2.0 is not "accessibility at the basic level". It's a huge set of rules that are often unclear and ambiguous. And that's fine because WCAG 2.0 is just something that you should aspire to. But if you start defining accessibility by whether a site conforms to WCAG 2.0 or not, then I can guarantee you that every single popular site is non-accessible.

We got sued and believe me it has nothing to do with blind people. Our site is of zero interest to them. Companies are sued by scumbag lawyers, who have made a nice little racket out of this thing. It's really unfortunate that the HN crowd is siding with them, as if they are championing the rights of disabled people. It's all about money.


That is a natural consequence of the way in which the United States chooses to enforce rules like this. In some other countries, there are regulators who do this kind of thing and issue relatively small fines and compliance notices. Since the regulator itself is publically funded, it does not need to live off the fine income.

In the US, the choice was made instead to create a private right of action and to allow legal fees to be recovered. That means that lawyers who make this their business have to aim high to cover their costs (including from cases they lose) and are no incentivised to let a company off with a compliance notice and a deadline to improve.

As a result, there are a certain percentage of ADA cases which are not brought in good faith but that is the system the people have decided they want.


> but that is the system the people have decided they want

The people haven't decided anything. As usual, someone comes up with an absurd law, or an absurd interpretation of the law and there are not enough people affected to bother challenging it. But that doesn't mean "the people have decided".


"The people have decided not to bother to do anything about it" sounds like the same thing to me.

On the contrary, the power dynamics is completely different. It's one thing to come up with a ridiculous policy (which is easy for a politician to do) and put the onus on minority of affected people to fight it, while the majority is neutral. And it's another thing to ask everyone to vote on the policy before it's enacted.

Fighting the status quo is immensely more difficult than keeping it, even if the effect of that status quo is provably harmful.


The politician is not some random person removed from reality. He/she represents the people, is accountable to them and campaigned on how they want to represent them.

The majority is not neutral but assumed to be in favor of their representative's (!) proposals.

Of course, politicians can and do deviate from this, in particular where legal bribery (lobbying) is involved, but that is the base assumption of representative democracy.


It's interesting, at least. Usually I would actually say separations of powers are good, as are powers to the judiciary; but you are correct that we do have a problem here with this in the States with frivolous lawsuits and bloodsucking lawyers.

On the other hand, regulators pouring bleach on food for the homeless and secret homeless rescue operations to avoid regulators are a real thing. As are hairdressers being shut down, fined and even jailed for things like not having a license to braid hair, or giving free haircuts to the homeless. Excessive regulations also kill jobs and productivity from overzealous and power-tripping regulators. There are horrors on both sides.

Honestly, I'd bet that after you calculate the fixed costs + variable costs + opportunity costs + economic deadweight loss of all of these solutions, it'd be better to just take the total costs--what is likely 10s to 100s of thousands per person per year--and actually just give it directly to the disabled in the form of a check, and be done with this circus.


> Our site is of zero interest to them.

How do you know? It's not like blind people are all the same. They're just people with the same wide range of interests as everyone else.


Is stargazing popular among blind people?

I'm going to bet a nontrivial number of visually impaired folks are very interested in tools that provide better views of the night sky and in sites with details about how to find and view celestial objects. You seem to be very lacking in imagination here. Anyway, it's not up to you to decide what they can or should be interested in, just because they experience the world differently than you do.

No, but buying a telescope for a sighted friend or relative as a present could be.

Would a blind person be interested in a painting or car insurance? Another reason I'm sure about it is if there was genuine interest, there would be calls from blind people - "Hey, I'm interested in your products but I'm blind, can you help me with figuring out some things on your site?" or "Hey I'm blind and I have problem accessing certain features on your site, can you please fix those issues?". We haven't got one single call like that. Ever. The people who sued us were never customers, neither before nor after the adjustments we made to the site. The fact they went straight to threats and offers of settlement clearly indicates that it's a racket, not someone genuinely interested in the products offered.

I'm really curious why you think a blind person wouldn't be "interested" in car insurance. They may not be able to drive themselves, but that doesn't mean they can't be the person paying the bills in a family that owns cars and thus has to have car insurance.

As for paintings... there was really zero information on the site other than pictures of paintings? Nothing about the artist, the size, or the price? You apparently don't realize that a lot of people who rely on screen readers are able to see to some extent. They may use the screen reader to navigate your site or make purchases, but they may still be able to see the paintings (sometimes by magnifying the screen greatly and looking closely at the details) if not in exactly the same way that you do.

I don't disbelieve that shakedowns like you describe happen. But there is a reason for the rules that you are apparently breaking. It also sounds like you don't really believe that disabled folks deserve any consideration.

You say you don't hear from them, asking questions or complaining, probably because the vast majority just give up when they encounter websites like the ones you create. They are likely very tired of contacting website owners (assuming they can figure out how to do so--not easy if the site isn't accessible!) who send back insults about how they can't possibly be interested in the contents of the site or accusing them of trying to shake the website owner down.

The sort of thinking you are putting on display here is exactly why the ADA is so important.


> It also sounds like you don't really believe that disabled folks deserve any consideration.

No, that's not at all what I believe so let me clarify what my objections are. First, by its very nature "accessibility" is open to interpretation and allowing people to sue companies for non-accessible sites gives way to frivolous lawsuits. As far as I remember, there isn't even an attempt to define "accessibility" in US law. Currently it's something like "Go look at WCAG and see what you can do". This is further exacerbated by the way these lawsuits work - it makes sense to settle even if you think everything is OK with your site. The plaintiff doesn't pay anything, his lawyers work on contingency so even if you "win", you'd spend a fortune on defense and you're not allowed to recoup those expenses from the plaintiff.

Second, these are private businesses we're talking about. They should be allowed to weigh in the ROI of investing in accessibility vs the potential income from disabled customers. I'm a reasonable guy and I was happy to fix some legit issues that the lawyers pointed out. They were relatively easy to fix and I would have done it even without any threats. Not in the least because they could have affected sighted customers as well. Other issues are completely out of whack and could take man-years to sort out fully. I don't have that kind of time. So, let me reverse the question. Do you believe everyone with disability must be able to use any service, no matter the expense to the business? Do you draw the line somewhere? What about people with nut allergies? Should we force restaurants to offer guaranteed nut-free food along with their other products? Why should a blind person be able to enjoy a pizza from Domino's but a person with nut allergy shouldn't?

> I don't disbelieve that shakedowns like you describe happen.

You seem to think that the shakedowns are the minority and most cases are legit. It's the other way around if you do a quick "ADA lawsuits" search. Here is good article about the practice: https://www.city-journal.org/html/ada-shakedown-racket-12494...


I have met a restaurant owner who had exactly the same issue. A lawyer came into his restaurant alongside someone in a wheelchair. They noticed paper rolls were not at a correct height, threatened to sue, and let them settle for less. For the restaurant owner, it didn't seem that they genuinely cared about the accessibility problem, but rather making money off using ADA.

Could the restaurant owner have been biased against the person who is compelling them to take action that they don't want to take? I would probably take the owner's psychoanalysis of them with a grain of salt.

According the restaurant owner the lawyer was suing hundreds of small restaurants in the Bay Area. Also they didn't seem to care about the restaurant at all, and were only interested in finding out all violations.

There was a bipartisan bill that passed the House 2 years ago (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/620/...) that aimed at closing drive-by ADA shakedowns. The bill required claimants to give 120 days to business to fix issue. It seems the bill hasn't been signed by the Senate (not sure why, if anyone knows more let me know). This is a good bill, hopefully it will pass.

edit: Found why it didn't pass the Senate. Democrats in Senate promised to filibuster any attempt to bring the bill to the floor. https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/03/sen-tammy-duckworth-s....


That sounds like a great bill. Anything that lets people hold businesses accountable re:accessibility without opening gaping loopholes for legal shenanigans like that seems like the right balance here.

Sounds like it wouldn't have helped at all. From the article: "Proponents of HR 620 say that changes to the ADA are needed to prevent so-called drive-by lawsuits, where attorneys and people with disabilities use the ADA for their own monetary gain by filing frivolous claims. Yet, as the Democrats noted in their letter, HR 620 will do nothing to stop such cases because 'these private actions seeking damages are filed pursuant to specific State laws that unlike title III of the ADA, authorize monetary damages. HR 620 would make no change to those state laws and therefore fails to address lawsuits seeking damages.'"

I suspect the main reason for the bill was the "substantial progress" wording, which would let businesses get out of becoming fully compliant.


Thanks for pointing this out.

Their first argument is that because state laws exist, there should not be a federal reform. I thought federal laws were there to set a default law for states. If they don't agree with the abuse they should work and reforming the federal law first.

Their second argument is that it 'let businesses get out of becoming fully compliant'. I don't understand. A 120-day heads-up isn't a way to get away with penalties.

And what is missing (and maybe they did say it but it is not mentioned in the article) is what they suggest as an alternative. Surely if you vow to block a reform but agree on the problem they should come up with solutions. There should be a way to both make more businesses compliant and prevent ADA shakedowns.

I am discovering how hard it is to make our laws evolve :)


>Other issues are completely out of whack and could take man-years to sort out fully.

What were these?


>Would a blind person be interested in a painting or car insurance?

Sure, why not?

But I'm confused here. Does your website somehow feature both paintings and car insurance?


No, these were obviously examples. Our site sells expensive products that require a certain level of "visual appreciation", just like paintings. No one would buy something like that, without being able to see it.

I mean, you're not making a very good case for yourself here. You won't say what your product is, and the examples you give are things that blind people would in fact be interested in.

You're really intent to get me on a technicality. Fine, I'll concede - somewhere out there, there is a blind person whose pride in life is finding the best auto insurance deals for his relatives. And somewhere out there, there is a blind person who buys random paintings online and hangs them on his walls just so he can have fun conversations about them over dinner with friends.

But by and large, blind people don't buy auto insurance because they don't drive and they don't buy paintings because they can't see them. Forcing these businesses to invest excessive efforts to serve 0.0001% of their potential target audience is idiotic.

And no, I'm not going to say what we sell because it's not important and this was clearly an extortion case.


> I'm not going to say what we sell because it's not important

It seems to me that what you sell is the central issue here, as you're claiming that blind people wouldn't be interested in it. I'm not really willing to take your word for it, given the other examples you've used.

In the case of car insurance, it's obvious that people don't only buy insurance for cars that they drive. Consider e.g. an employee of a company looking to buy insurance for company cars.

There are also lots of blind artists and blind people interested in visual arts, as you can discover from a simple google search.

It's worth remembering also that many "blind" people are partially sighted, so that they may be unable to read text but still appreciate visual arts in a direct perceptual way. On top of that, there are people who have lost their sight, and who may still have a keen interest in the visual arts formed when they were still able to see.


You're ignoring most of what OP is saying, he's completely right in saying he should have no obligation to dedicate huge resources to a potential 0.00001% of his customers which may or may not even exist, when the only benefit will be not getting hit by frivolous lawsuits.

> "he's completely right in saying he should have no obligation"

Is he right because you agree with him? I don't think he's right. The law also doesn't think he's right.

There's also quite a few assumptions that you seem to have made in not very good faith, because how could you know how much effort it would take to fix accessibility for a website that you don't even know what sells? You've also assumed some exaggerated fraction of a percent, and assumed that a lawsuit that you don't know anything about was frivolous.

Based on what information did you assume all those things?


OK, here is a case that we do know something about: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/why-uc-berkel...

Is that frivolous enough for you? That's the same law you're defending here and when that article came out, it was universally decried here on HN. Funny how things change, huh? But I guess it's not ok for someone to sue UC-Berkley for providing free non-accessible lectures, while it's totally ok for a private business to be sued for having a non-accessible website.


You are moving goalposts here, are we now debating whether any ADA-related lawsuit ever has been frivolous?

I also have a hard time answering for an anonymous group of people, as I am not HN.

You seem very eager to assign very clear and simple intentions to large and complex groups of human beings. Blind people don't like this kind of stuff, these lawsuits are frivolous, HN had this collective opinion on X but has now changed its mind.

For the record, I think it's fine for someone to sue UC-Berkeley and other private businesses for not following the law. Do you have a labeled box for me?


No goalposts were moved by me. In this thread, the only thing I've been saying from the very start is that the majority of these ADA lawsuits are shakedowns and the UC-Berkely case is just one more datapoint. I provided an article with detailed analysis of the practice as well.

At the same time, all you've been doing is disingenuous interpretations of my posts and dismissing other reports as "biased", while not providing a single datapoint yourself. "GASP! How dare you say blind people are not interested in paintings! The horror and the arrogance!" Sure, there are blind people buying paintings and interested in art. How does that invalidate anything of what I said? The point is not that there are literally zero blind people buying paintings, the point is that they are very very far from the target audience and hence it's not worth investing a significant effort to cater to those people. People from Africa are not my target market either and I make zero effort to make sure the site is accessible there. Am I now a racist too?

> For the record, I think it's fine for someone to sue UC-Berkeley and other private businesses for not following the law.

Are you fine with a frivolous suit against UC-Berkeley too? Because it is possible that lawsuit is frivolous and UC-Berkeley is breaking the law. In fact that's exactly what's happened - UC-Berkeley is in technical violation of a botched law, they got threatened with a frivolous lawsuit and decided to just remove the free content. As a result everyone loses but I hope the ADA defenders are happy.


> "the only thing I've been saying from the very start is that the majority of these ADA lawsuits are shakedowns"

Can you source this claim? You didn't provide any data point for that. You've claimed a lot of things that you just know and seem to take offense to that being challenged.

In fact, UC Berkeley case is the only data point I've seen from you here; which feels sparse given the blanket statements you've made about the intentions of various groups of people. You won't even say what product you are selling that you know for a fact that blind people are not interested in at all.

Can you also provide a data point on the UC Berkeley lawsuit being frivolous? What are you basing that on?

> "The point is not that there are literally zero blind people buying paintings, the point is that they are very very far from the target audience and hence it's not worth investing a significant effort to cater to those people."

That depends on how much value you place on following the law.

> "People from Africa are not my target market either and I make zero effort to make sure the site is accessible there. Am I now a racist too?"

Could you please stop inventing arguments to rebut, because it's not really helpful. We're talking about ADA here, not whatever you're making up here.


> In fact, UC Berkeley case is the only data point I've seen from you here; which feels sparse given the blanket statements you've made about the intentions of various groups of people.

You've been too busy twisting my arguments and you might have missed the link I posted earlier: https://www.city-journal.org/html/ada-shakedown-racket-12494...

> Can you also provide a data point on the UC Berkeley lawsuit being frivolous? What are you basing that on?

Are you now trolling me? I can't believe I need to explain this but I'll make one last attempt:

UCB posts free video lectures online. UCB is technically violating ADA by not having captions. Someone says "You're breaking the law, your free content must be available to everyone with disabilities or I'll sue you". UCB complies with the law the easiest way possible by shutting down the free lectures. You say you value the ADA law so you should be happy - UCB is in compliance now. Everyone else lost, including actual people with disabilities who might have had partial access to the videos one way or another. I'll leave it to you to decide how desirable this outcome was, nitpicking "frivolous" definition notwithstanding.

> Could you please stop inventing arguments to rebut, because it's not really helpful. We're talking about ADA here, not whatever you're making up here.

My argument is perfectly valid. I was talking about ADA until you implied that I'm bigoted and trying to tell blind people what they should be interested in. That has nothing to do with ADA. If want to go in that direction, go all the way and tell me that I'm racist because I'm not ensuring my site is accessible in Africa.


I'm not ignoring it. I simply don't believe that he/she is selling a product which would be unusually uninteresting to blind people. People with visual disabilities are a few percent of the population.

Who has got more information here, you, who has no idea what the OP is selling, or OP who is actually selling the thing?

"I simply don't believe" is not a great argument, when the previous car insurance and painting analogies proved to me that you can conjure up a hypothetical interest of a blind person about anything.


> previous car insurance and painting anecdotes proved to me that you can conjure up a hypothetical interest of a blind person about anything.

These aren’t hypothetical! Blind people really are interested in both these things, as you can easily find out by googling — or just using your common sense.

Like OP, you’re illustrating exactly why we need the ADA. People often have wildly inaccurate perceptions about what people with visual disabilities can or can’t do and about what they may or may not be interested in. If “I don’t think blind people would be into this” were a valid excuse, then virtually nothing would be accessible in practice.

As the OP has already demonstrated that they have mistaken ideas about blind people, I’m not willing to take their word for it that they have some kind of special product which couldn’t possibly be of interest to the visually impaired. They are free to reveal what they actually sell, if they think they have a slam dunk case.


My problem is that everyone in these threads acts like this all takes zero effort. There's no "turn on a11y" switch, you have to dedicate resources, money and time.

It's a perfectly valid complaint from someone that sells a product which is generally not interesting to blind people (you seem to think this is an impossibility, or that one edge case outlier invalidates this reality), to not want to do this if it will bring no new business and make no-one's life easier.


Not having security vulns in your software costs money. A large number of users aren't actually harmed by vulns or don't care about them.

But if you went around saying that really it isn't important to fix vulns since they don't affect that many people you'd be rightly raked over the coals.

"It is expensive" isn't an excuse.


Selling stuff requires complying with lots of laws that take time, money and effort to comply with.

I don't know why you keep referring to "edge cases" and "outliers". The two actual examples that the OP has given do not meet this description.


Sure, you can find blind people with intense interest in visual media. There have to be a few out there. However, a quick google (as you requested) on the art topic seems to indicate that art targeted at the blind is rarely of the painting variety, but of a more tactile sort. This... would not be appreciated in many museums, where touching the exhibits is typically discouraged (Admittedly, audio enjoyment of visual art does exist).

I'm really sick of the argument by outlier where a generally true statement is countered by an outlier case as though that invalidates the whole statement.


I think you are forgetting the existence of partially sighted people. Most people who use screen readers can see. There wouldn't be anything odd or unexpected about such people being interested in paintings or other visual art forms. On top of that, many people who are fully blind were not blind from birth, and so are about as likely to be interested in visual arts as anyone else.

I considered them, but blind enough to appreciate visual art but too blind to use a webpage seems like a rather narrow group to me. It's one of those things where I would very much need evidence accept.

>I considered them,

By which you mean, you decided without actually asking any of them or doing any investigation that a certain group of people don’t appreciate visual art.

The vast majority of people using screen readers have some degree of vision. I would not assume that they have no appreciation of visual art.

The ADA is needed because people have so many assumptions about people with disabilities that they don’t bother to verify.


And I ask of you. How many are there. How large is this population. If you support regulation, give numbers to back it up. The absence of regulation is the default state, and to introduce some should require not a feel good statement, but a concrete estimate of how much impact it will have vs the potential cost.

You don't need to convince me that it would make some people's life better. That could be said of any expense made on somebody's behalf. You have to show that the cost-benefit ratio makes sense.


It's not the government's job to figure out what blind and partially sighted people are and aren't interested in buying. Would you really support regulation that attempted to distinguish between "products blind people are interested in" and "products blind people aren't interested in"? That seems entirely unworkable.

If you wish to continue making unwarranted assumptions about what blind people are interested in buying, that's your call. But the law doesn't (and shouldn't) back you up.


> You have to show that the cost-benefit ratio makes sense.

Why? No one is saying that it's always a sound business idea to accommodate people with disabilities. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But not everything is about the business owner's bottom line.


> Like OP, you’re illustrating exactly why we need the ADA.

Firmly agree. It's amazing to see how many cling to the view that people with disabilities are this alien group of "others" that think differently and are probably only interested in things for disabled people.


It's not only the information about the thing OP is selling, it's also the information about blind people OP seems to be lacking.

Like, how can anyone state that "blind people aren't interested in this" seriously? Like there exists a bullet list of things that blind people like.


Your language here is really insulting. Take a step back and consider maybe you don't know everything there is to know about how visually impaired individuals live their lives. They aren't all (or even mostly) fully blind! They have families which usually include fully sighted individuals! Meanwhile they are also capable human beings who have all the same needs and concerns about day-to-day life as anyone else.

Are you surprised? He's got a product which he believes has no value to blind people and a record of exactly zero people calling to complain, but he's getting shit on by the a11y brigade anyway.

I believe it should be his right to just simply say my product is not for blind people, and dedicate no resources to servicing this hypothetical user base.

It's very easy to tell others to do something a certain way with a condescending tone from behind your screen if you've got no stakes and don't have to do any of the work involved.


> I believe it should be his right to just simply say my product is not for blind people, and dedicate no resources to servicing this hypothetical user base.

Fortunately, in America we don't believe discrimination is acceptable, and we've codified that principle in the law.


Ha. The ADA has been put into law, yes. The result was reduced employment opportunities for disabled people. Because the cost of conforming to the law is prohibitive.

Apparently, in America, its more important to appear to be virtuous than to actually do good.

The law of unintended consequences.


Can you source your claim? I am genuinely interested in reading it.

As with most research, take multiple sources. A quick survey showed this (admittedly rather old paper), but it does show the immediate effect:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/146368.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_...

>On average over the post-ADA period, employment of men with disabilities was 7.2 percentage points lower than before the act was passed. In addition, wages of disabled men did not change with the passage of the ADA.

http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/olin_center/papers/pdf/J...

This one is long, and they do mention some positive impact on education later. Didn't read that far though.

>while relative disabled employment declined significantly just after the ADA’s enactment in states in which these provisions were a substantial innovation relative to the pre-ADA state-level employment discrimination regime, relative disabled employment was stable in states with ADA-like employment discrimination regimes in place prior to the ADA’s enactment

Non-exhaustive search, but the data seems to indicate that ADA reduced employment for the disabled shortly after inception. I'm not certain on the longer term effects (those are also much more annoying to model here).


The negative effects on employment were a blip:

https://www.nber.org/digest/nov04/w10528.html


It's great to think that the ADA damage was short-lived. But rather than a 'blip', it lasted 'through the 1990s' by that reference (thanks!) which cut out the prime earning years of a whole generation of disabled people.

Again, Law of Unintended Consequences.


Of course we do, we allow and encourage discrimination on a number of fronts. The most obvious is discrimination based on socioeconomic status; we have a whole host of "luxury" products that are kept inaccessible to lower income people so they can serve as a status symbol. Education is another lateral that is generally viewed as acceptable for discrimination (i.e. jobs that require a particular degree). Financial, employment and criminal histories are all also acceptable to discriminate based on.

It's perfectly acceptable to not allow someone to rent an apartment because they have a criminal history, or a poor financial or employment history. It's also acceptable for American Express to not issue black cards to people who don't make a million dollars a year.

We have codified some traits that we do not allow discrimination based on, but generally speaking, discrimination is acceptable. Unless you change the general definition of "discrimination" to the legal one, which would seem to make the argument circular (i.e. we have banned discrimination where discrimination is the things we have banned).


> I believe it should be his right to just simply say my product is not for blind people, and dedicate no resources to servicing this hypothetical user base.

You might believe it, but the law apparently says otherwise. It’s ok to disagree with laws while still complying with them, and if you’re so passionate about it... it’s ok to work to change them.

I might believe that my healthcare business shouldn’t have to comply with HIPPA but if I don’t comply I should expect to be sued.

I might believe my online store shouldn’t need to be PCI compliant and that it’s unfair, but if I don’t imply I should expect to pay for it.

Through (imperfect) representative democracy, the public has decided that being sloppy with health information, improperly protecting credit card information, and providing access to your business to disabled people are important enough to enforce via the law. It doesn’t really matter what the business owner’s beliefs are at that point.

Anyone who really thinks it’s so important to deny blind people equal access to their web site is free to run for Congress or find a politician who agrees with them to vote for.


It is entirely possible a blind person would buy a painting or a piece of artistic jewelry as a gift for a friend or family member; they may even buy one, sight unseen, to decorate their apartment or body for the enjoyment of their sighted friends.

> It's very easy to tell others to do something a certain way with a condescending tone from behind your screen if you've got no stakes and don't have to do any of the work involved.

Isn't this exactly what you're doing here, condescendingly name-calling people and dismissing their opinions?


You seem to be under the impression that all blindness is exactly the same. There are people who have serious difficulties reading at normal screen distances, but still have enough sight to appreciate a painting.

Yes, and that impression is correct because "blind" means someone who can't see. At all. The people you mention are usually referred to as "visually impaired" or "legally blind".

This thread is about people who need visual accommodations to use websites, not completely blind people exclusively. You're the one who's been talking like they're the same thing.

I believe the idea is that you (or I, or the government) doesn't get to decide which topics should or should not be interesting for different groups.

As but one example: there are blind people skiing now, with echolocation and other methods. I bet ski lift operators would have argued that they have nothing to offer to blind people, making that particular expansion of freedom more difficult.


Yeah, I can imagine how many things would be different if businesses had been able to decide what blind people like.

"It's a website, which you look at, so clearly blind people aren't interested."


It's really unfortunate that the HN crowd is siding with them, as if they are championing the rights of disabled people. It's all about money.

I'm sorry you got burned, but this is not the best way to make your point.


> Despite the somewhat misleading headline, the Supreme Court didn't really say anything new here.

A unanimous denial of certiorari (declining to hear the case) sends a pretty strong message to lawyers and their clients. It only takes 4 votes (1 less than majority) to hear a case, so the fact that there were zero justices interested is a clear message. While it is technically possible that there could in the future be a circuit split, which could then be appealed to the SCOTUS, it is unlikely SCOTUS would hear that case.

And given what happened today, it is even less likely that a competent lawyer would counsel their client to appeal a similar case up to a federal appeals court (because it looks like it would be a loser of a case).

So while the SCOTUS did not affirmatively speak today, their unanimously declining to hear the case does actually say something new, and this is being hailed as a landmark-ish case in the legal accessibility community.

FWIW, IAAL, and I run an assistive technology startup.


I don't think we know it was unanimous. The orders list doesn't say anything to that effect, and the justices rarely publicly dissent from denials of cert, so their silence doesn't mean anything.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/100719zor_m6...


You're right that public dissents from cert. denial are not as common as dissents from SCOTUS opinions. However, given the questions presented, the current composition of the Court, and the fact that only 4 justices are needed to grant cert., it still seems unlikely that the Court would rule in favor of a different defendant in a different case.

That is, this case presented a novel issue, and it was at a stage where the questions were legal in nature (not factual). That's the perfect opportunity for SCOTUS to take the case if they planned to interpret the ADA as not applying to business' websites. They could hypothetically weigh in on the case after Dominos has a full trial with all the facts, but if they planned to say that as a matter of law the ADA does not apply to Dominoes' website, why would they wait to do so?

And since both "sides" (liberal and conservative) of the Court have at least 4 justices right now, either could have independently granted cert. This is especially true for the conservative wing, which is typically viewed (or typically caricatured, depending on your perspective) as being more business-friendly — and which has 5 justices.

Regardless, thanks for raising this point. You're right that the absence of a cert. denial dissent does not strictly indicate a unanimous vote.


That's awesome to hear, thanks for clarifying.

No, the supreme court prefers to have lots of lower courts weigh in before deciding anything if at all possible. That way there are lots of well reasoned smart people who have thought about the problem and so by considering all different thoughts they are more likely to get it right. They are well aware that they are the last resort and so what they say goes even if it is wrong so they avoid being wrong.

Which is to say, even if the entire court (both liberals and conservatives) thought the lower court decided wrong they probably wouldn't want to hear this case until a couple other lower courts also wrote something - just in case some argument that someone comes up over the next few years points out an angle they hadn't thought of and so they would reverse.

That is a preference though. They can of course do what they want.


'Full and equal enjoyment' is quoting US code out of context. The law reads "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation."

There is a clear difference between 'discriminating' against someone because of their disability, and a person's inability to participate in something because of a disability.

Later in the law discrimination is defined, and it gives an exception that auxiliary aids must be provided, except when providing them would be an undue burden.

If I were Dominos (I'm not a lawyer, so I probably have this wrong), based on a reading of the law, I would argue that since Dominos offers pizza ordering through the telephone it is not depriving anyone their services if the website is not accessible. The service Dominos has to provide access to is delivery of pizzas, not the use of their website, which only exists specifically for the purpose of ordering pizzas. Could a library be sued because a specific book doesn't contain braille, when the same book is available in braille? What if Dominos had two phone numbers, one that offered teletype and one that was voice only? This judgement seems to imply that they could be sued unless both their phone numbers offered TDD, because they are depriving people of the use of the other phone number?

I'm all for making websites accessible, but I find it hard to believe someone who orders a pizza over the phone is being deprived of 'equal enjoyment' of the pizza.


> I'm not a lawyer, so I probably have this wrong

IANAL, but you definitely have this wrong, in terms of the history of this case, at least. The DOJ has made clear since their first guidance in 1996 and courts have held repeatedly that the ADA applies to websites in the service of public accommodation.

Domino's absolutely has a defense if they are able to demonstrate that their services are "equally" and "effectively" provided to all. The lower court held that they didn't even need to look into the facts at issue, i.e. they don't even need to find out if the phone line provides such service. The court of appeals rightly said that, in fact, it is important to find out if there's evidence of discrimination.


Someone who is both blind and speech impaired or unable to speak the local language can't order food over the phone.

I'm pretty sure phone companies in the US are required to provide free text<->speech services (dictation) for people who can't speak and/or hear. They've been popular with prank callers. Not being able to speak the local language isn't germane to a discussion about disabilities.

> Not being able to speak the local language isn't germane to a discussion about disabilities.

Why not? A blind tourist in the US shouldn't be able to order some Domino's? What about a blind person who has temporarily lost their voice (e.g. due to laryngitis, or a bad cold)? A sighted person in this situation would not have had a problem, so clearly the "full and equal enjoyment" requirement is not being satisfied here.


I should have said "Not being able to speak the local language isn't germane to a discussion about the Americans with Disabilities Act," because not being able to speak English isn't considered a disability under that law.

A blind person who has lost their voice could avail themselves of the text<->speech service I mentioned. If they also don't speak English they may need to employ a translation dictionary or some other translation service as well, but I'm not aware of any legal obligation for private businesses to provide translation services in the US.


> A blind person who has lost their voice could avail themselves of the text<->speech service I mentioned

Would they know how? They wouldn't normally be accustomed to using those tools, right? A sighted person with laryngitis doesn't need to bother with learning text-to-speech for the 2 weeks they don't have their voice because they can just use the website. If blind users have to learn the tools, that's adding an extra burden on them. (And yes blind users have to learn how to use screenreaders, which sighted users don't, but that's a permanent requirement associated with their disability)

> because not being able to speak English isn't considered a disability under that law.

That's not what I said. I've added parentheses to my statement so it's easier to parse as a boolean "(blind and (speech impaired or unable to speak the local language))".

> I'm not aware of any legal obligation for private businesses to provide translation services in the US.

But Domino's provides access to their website in multiple languages. So a blind non-English-speaker isn't enjoying the "equal and full enjoyment" of Domino's services that a sighted non-English-speaker would.


> Would they know how? They wouldn't normally be accustomed to using those tools, right? A sighted person with laryngitis doesn't need to bother with learning text-to-speech for the 2 weeks they don't have their voice because they can just use the website. If blind users have to learn the tools, that's adding an extra burden on them. (And yes blind users have to learn how to use screenreaders, which sighted users don't, but that's a permanent requirement associated with their disability)

That's all true, but I feel like there's a missing "Therefore..." at the end.

> > because not being able to speak English isn't considered a disability under that law.

> That's not what I said. I've added parentheses to my statement so it's easier to parse as a boolean "(blind and (speech impaired or unable to speak the local language))".

I know that's not what you said. It's what I said. I don't see what your second sentence has to do with it.

> But Domino's provides access to their website in multiple languages. So a blind non-English-speaker isn't enjoying the "equal and full enjoyment" of Domino's services that a sighted non-English-speaker would.

Yeah, they got sued because blind people allegedly can't use their website. Language has nothing to do with it.


> Yeah, they got sued because blind people allegedly can't use their website. Language has nothing to do with it.

The person I was originally responding to was arguing that blind people could simply order on the phone and that was an acceptable substitute for the lack of web accessibility. I was pointing out the reasons that it's not as good. Language absolutely is pertinent here.

> That's all true, but I feel like there's a missing "Therefore..." at the end.

Therefore websites should be accessible. Phone ordering isn't a good enough substitute in these other situations and the blind are placed at a disadvantage compared to the sighted.


> It's really not hard to make your websites accessible at a basic level. Follow the standards. Make sure your content and markup are reasonably semantic. Use standard form components for data entry.

On a basic level, yes. But what does the law consider to be reasonable? There are so many degrees of compliance, some of which often go against brand guidelines, against common js libraries, etc.


I'm not sure if this changed, but as I recalled, Domino's site was a Flash application with a pretty non-standard UI. Their lack of accessibility may be a consequence of that technical decision.

Dominoes also literally has a client on every platform in existence from smart tvs to smart assitants to slack.

I'm certain they can figure out a viable option with their APIs


I develop accessible android apps. Between complicated designs, broken android libraries, different talkback behaviours, and vendor bugs, accessibility can be very difficult. The effort we expend on accessibility (including dedicated testers) is massive. Only large organisations can afford to do this.

There are zero inferences that can be drawn from the Supreme Court not granting cert on an appeal. The Supreme Court denies the vast majority of appeals they receive, and only take a case in a narrow and not always intuitive set of circumstances. Headline is very misleading.

> full and equal enjoyment

I know there is a snarky comment about enjoying Dominoe's pizza...

But it is comical that Dominoes championed ordering pizza by tweeting an pizza emoji, but failed to address helping the bling order online.


The argument from Domino's was that you could still order over the phone, and thus they weren't discriminating against customers.

And at the end of the day developers worldwide like all humans choose to keep a job, maintain their livelihood and avoid getting fired.

What I find appauling is I need to be disabled to demand a website that doesn't require font.js and 600 trackers to run, that doesn't intercept my scroll wheel or make me use a Google product for captcha.

hyper text mark up language is dead. Long live the world wide web.


> And at the end of the day developers worldwide like all humans choose to keep a job, maintain their livelihood and avoid getting fired.

Well, now, as developers we have more ammunition to backup the moral obligation.

Now we can demand the time to validate that a site is compliant with WCAG 2.0, and point to this ruling as a legal mandate to do so.


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