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Don Burleson Blog 







Web Site Accessibility Lawsuit may effect millions of Oracle systems

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting
January 20, 2004
Don Burleson

An upcoming court case in Florida may have significant ramifications for any company with a web-based Oracle systems.

Many Oracle shops with a web interface have been voluntarily complying with rules for making web sites accessible for the disabled, especially their own employees.  Failure to make your Oracle-based application friendly to the blind and deaf could expose your company to millions of dollars in liability:

Groups of disability rights advocates are fighting to expand the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to cover the rights of the visually and hearing impaired to have equal access to web sites.

In a lower court ruling a Florida judge ruled that the web site for Southwest Airlines in not fall under the purview of the ADA, and was not required to make their web site compliant with access laws for the disabled.

Fighting the lower court ruling are numerous disability right advocacy groups:

  • American Association of People with Disabilities

  • American Council of the Blind

  • American Foundation for the Blind

  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

  • Disability Rights Advocates

  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

  • National Association of the Deaf

  • National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS)

  • National Federation of the Blind

The case is Access Now v. Southwest Airlines., 11th Circuit Case No. 02-16163-BB, a case which will be argued in the Court of Appeals on November 6 in Miami, Florida.  The Amicus brief filed by the groups is available on line at this link:

The appellants and the disability groups are asking the three judge appellate panel to overrule the District Judge so that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the World Wide Web.  While emphasizing that millions of Americans with disabilities need accessible websites to fully and  equally participate in society, the groups have pointed out to the Court that  most commercial websites can be made accessible with very little expense and without compromising creative design.    Making the Web accessible to people with disabilities is not difficult, and includes such things as designing and generating web pages so that information is available to a wide range of people, including  those who may be unable to hear audible content; who may be unable to use a  mouse because of a physical impairment; or who access the Web using software that reads the content of a web page out loud to persons who cannot see the screen content.



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