Webinar: A Legal Perspective On Accessibility

 

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

 

Introduction

This week, I focus on accessibility from a legal perspective. On March 17, 2021, the

Great Lakes ADA Center

and

Southwest ADA Center

Joined together to host the webinar

The Future is Accessible: A Legal Perspective”.

I listened to the archived webinar five days later. At the link above, webinar materials and recording are available. In this blog post, I will summarize the webinar and provide information on a topic which the presenter did not focus on.

 

The webinar began with a focus on the first two titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which cover employment and state and local government services, respectively.

ADA Title I: employment

Due to the pandemic, employers are recruiting employees virtually. Employers need to consider accessibility of web sites utilized for recruitment. A

recruiting checklist from the Employer Assistance Resource Network

was recommended by the presenter.

ADA Title II: State and local government services

Entities covered by Title II also need to consider accessibility. In a legal case, a school district had no interest in making their web site accessible.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Exist which were created by the

“World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)”.

The webinar presenter then discussed Title III, which covers places of public accommodation such as businesses.

 

Title III: Places of Public Accommodation

A variety of Title III areas were discussed.

Video Streaming Services

There are a variety of video streaming services. Most streaming services are accessible, per the presenter, but some are more accessible than others. Example: The presenter said HBO Max does not have audio description to his knowledge. Audio description for video is mandated under the

Twenty-First Century Video Accessibility ACT(TFCVAA).

passed in 2010. Streaming services are not required to be accessible under TFCVAA, but they may be under Title III of the ADA. This is because such services currently take the place of movie theaters.

Food Delivery

Most food delivery apps are accessible. However, sometimes delivery drivers have failed to make disability accommodations such as delivery to another location.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine has been more frequent since the pandemic began. A study determined that healthcare providers can provide services as needed and telemedicine can help people in rural areas. However, there are fewer broadband options available in such areas. Telemedicine can help people with disabilities who have sufficient internet access. For example, transportation is less of an issue when using telemedicine. Effective communication for people with disabilities is mandatory and accessibility of the telemedicine app are necessary to consider. The presentation ended with an in-depth discussion about virtual gaming accessibility.

 

Accessible gaming

The presenter’s gaming discussion focused on PC games, as well as visual games using physical devices such as

Sony’s PlayStation®

And

Microsoft’s XBox.

For game devices to be accessible, universal design is important, which means being accessible to a variety of people. Game developers are ultimately responsible for designing accessibility if they are willing to do so. Although Sony and Microsoft have both implemented accessibility into their relevant devices, Nintendo has no built-in accessibility. While discussing the STEAM gaming platform for PC, the presenter said that accessibility does not exist on Apple devices. PC Steam accessibility sometimes works for screen reader users. TCVAA requires video services to be accessible, but accessibility for video games is not required. However, the presenter stressed that accessibility is necessary in virtual stores. As a result, virtual services have been responsive to accessibility needs. The presenter also stated that blind people can play games. Since this fact was not discussed by the presenter, I will conclude this article by discussing it myself.

 

Computer Games Accessible for the Blind

I have played accessible games on various computers for about 30 years. Some of them have been

audio games,

which typically use recorded speech and sound effects. A screen reader is unnecessary for most audio games. I choose to focus here on text-based games because text is more inclusive for a variety of disabilities. Some of the first games I ever played were

games by Richard De Steno.

Although they were originally developed for the DOS operating system, in more recent years he converted most of his games to the Windows operating system. His games are audio-based because they have sound effects, but I consider them to also be text-based. This is because a screen reader is required if blind, game output is text and sound effects can be turned off. Two of my favorite games by Mr. De steno are Destination Mars (where you travel to Mars) and Dodge City Desperados (where your purpose is to get rid of criminals). An example of text-only online games is the wide selection of interactive novels by

Choice of Games.

Their games are completely text-based. A variety of genres are available, and in all stories your choices determine the outcome. I have purchased many Choice of Games stories over several years, and it is impossible for me to pick two favorites. I consider text-based games to be the most accessible form of game for a variety of people with disabilities because they are controlled by your imagination. Text-based games can also appeal to people without any disability and tend to be turn-based, so players can play at their own pace. Bottom line: Accessibility is important for everyone to help ensure equality.

 

Question for readers: What accessibility difficulties have you encountered recently? I shall return next week with another article.

 

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