Archive for the ‘the law’ Category

Massachusetts use of open formats mightent be such a concern for screenreader users afterall

July 4, 2007

When the US state of Massachusetts mandated only using open standards conformant tools when executing government business back in 2005 There was much concern among the visually impaired community. Not because they (we) are a bunch of Microsoft loving no-nothings but because sometimes its better the devil you know. Then, as now there is no office productivity suite which works a tenth as well with assistive technologies such as screenreaders as does MS office. Indeed as far as I know not one of the big name open source alternatives supports any screenreader even for the most basic tasks such as document reading, writing, saving and retrieval.

however I see in news announced this week that Massachusetts kowtows to Microsoft.
or in less journalistic language, the latest draft proposal from the state of Massachusetts recommends approving Microsofts Office Open XML (OOXML) format as an open format meaning that once again employees are free to use MS Office, the most screenreader accessible option.

I’m sure there are many who feel this development is retrograde but for those Massachusetts state employees whose jobs were at threat because the tools they use to undertake their work are suddenly deamed none conformant this will be a great releaf.

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adjustments were not enough

June 8, 2007

That was the decision of the apeal in the case of SamLatif versus PMI in regard to PMIs failure to make reasonable adjustments to accomedate a disabled candidate in assessment for a professional qualification. see the finding reported here and the original case report here This is a positive day for establishing the applicability of the DDA to education, Technology and assessment. Having read around the case a little to my mind it says more about exam and assessment arrangements than learning resources but is nevertheless valuable. Learning resources was an element of the course with which Sam struggled but it was not at the core of the case in question.

international legislation on Web access

May 24, 2007

Reading a few Bloggs on legislation effecting web accessibility around the world I was surprised to learn that in at least a countries, namely the Netherlands and Germany legislation applying to Government sites, all be it only those of central Government are retrospective, that all existing sites must also be made to comply. A move which the UK has always shyed away from in respect of the DDA, and not just on Websites. the view on access to goods and services in general has I think been that a reasonable consideration would be to make retrospective adjustments if and when the prove to be presenting a barrier and not before. or not at least until they under go pallned maintenance. Some background and links out here.

Hotels.com sued over accessibility

May 24, 2007

IJust picked this up on Outlaw.com Interestingly the online travel company which aledgedly treats accessible hotel rooms as an optional extra because it won’t guarantee reservations for accessible rooms via its Website isn’t being challenged under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because of previous rulings under that legislation which have brought in to questions its applicability to the Web. Very worrying.

It's an interesting area, companies who make 'special provision' but then offer this on less favourable terms, and one which I'd like to see tested. A situation which I am currently experiencing myself is raising just this question. Vodafone.co.uk offer visually impaired clients a mobile screenreader free of charge on compatible phones. However in order to get the package you can only buy your contract in store, not via there Website from where discount call plans are available. In short if I want the software I must forgo the three months half price line rental and 10% discount for the duration of the contract. Less favourable terms? I think so. One possible solution which has been put on the table is that I buy my package on the Website, take the handset in to the store who will then send it off for the software to be installed, have it returned to the store from where I can collect it one week later. This seems a little long winded given that I can easily download and install the software myself, all I would require from Voda is the licence code.

So the questions I am asking myself,

"Is this a reasonable adjustment?".

and if not

Given that I am saving the £150 it would cost me to buy the software myself (which is more than I stand to lose by purchasing from the highstreet rather than online) would persuing the matter in courts (if a satisfactory solution were not found) be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

or

actually is the bigger picture what counts?

you can't treat someone less favourably on the grounds of disability

Even if you are, offering, a bespoke service.

change to US copyright law allows VIs to break DRM on E-books

November 29, 2006

This looks like good news although it is probably the case that is simply the law catching up with what most people are doing anyway. The change is that visually impaired people are now legitimately now aloud to circumvent the DRM systems on any E-books which do not incorporate screenreader or text to speach features. The difference would appear to be that previously this were only aloud on titles which did not exist in another accessible electronic format. Unsurprisingly The NFB it seems were behind the move, more interesting is that there were no objections to the proposal. Is the publishing industry waking up to the requirements of VI people? or is it easier to ignore the issue and leave the work in the hands of the reader than to tackle it at source. more info at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2006/71fr68472.html item number 4. Lets hope this lays down a marker which the UK can follow.