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Similar Court Actions Taken by Other Countries – Written by Ms. Mel Pedley


>Did they already make amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Not to the Act itself. What happened was that a judge finally decided that shops and services, as defined in ADA, were not limited to physical premises but could be extended to electronic services and online shops. Very often it is not a law itself that determines what cases are sucessful but a given judge’s interpretation and ruling. Such rulings are called ‘case precedents’ and, once a precedent is established, it can then be used to bring similar cases under the same law.


>I remember an item about the blind group suing the Sydney Olympics 

>web site for being inaccessible. What happened to it?

That was also successful. A blind man, Bruce Maguire, lodged a complaint against the Sydney Olympic Committee via the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HEROC) under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Maguire used a refreshable Braille display on the web and could not access areas of the Olympic web site.

HEROC found in Maguire’s favour and ordered the Olympic Committee to make changes to the site. The Committee refused and were ordered to pay Maguire $20,000 in damages for their refusal.


> I hope this can be applied here in the Philippines. I'm not sure if

> our NCWDP here does not have the power to help prosecute violators

> against persons with disabilities.

The UK Disability Discrimination Act *does* cover electronic services yet, despite being enacted in 1999, there has not been a single case that has proceeded through to judgement. Hence, in the UK, there is currently no case precedent. However, we do know that complaints have been brought under the UK DDA. At least three, if not more. However, in every case thus far, the complaint was settled out of court with damages being paid on condition that the complainents signed a non-disclosure agreement. So we don’t have any details. It would seem that site owners are far more concerned about the negative publicity that a public case would bring rather than any fines or damages they might have to pay.

The Disability Rights Commission (the UK’s equivalent to your NCWDP, I assume) has a proven track record of assisting with successful complaints regarding other parts of the Act but with regard to web sites, it is still trying to persuade site owners to implement basic accessibility. The most recent initiative was the sponsoring of PAS78 “Guide to commissioning an accessible web site” – a document that is partway towards an official British Standard and which, consequently, could well be used as the basis for a complaint in a court of law.

This document was only published in Spring of this year, so I would guess the DRC is still estimating its impact. Early signs are that it has raised the profile of web accessiblity in the UK and some large commercial companies seem to be redesigning their sites as a result.

However, I do believe that a full case *will* be brought at some point in the future. The only factors that remain are ‘when’ and ‘who’.

Reference:
  1. Full Story on Sydney Olympics Law Suit – http://www.contenu.nu/socog.html