At least one fan may disagree with the NBA’s fan friendly slogan. Robert Jahoda, a blind man, recently filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Western District of Pennsylvania claiming the NBA has violated the American with Disabilities Act. Jahoda claims the NBA has failed to make its Web site fully accessible to him. According to the complaint, the NBA Web site has “barriers” that restrict Jahoda’s full and equal access to the site. The complaint further alleges that the site “has never had a plan or policy that is reasonably calculated to make its Website fully accessible to, and independently usable by, blind people.”
Jahoda is relying on this section of the ADA, which provides:
[i]n the case of violations of . . . this title, injunctive relief shall include an order to alter facilities to make such facilities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities….Where appropriate, injunctive relief shall also include requiring the . . . modification of a policy. .
And Jahoda’s complaint is pretty specific about the relief he wants:
[Jahoda] seeks a permanent injunction requiring: a) that Defendant retain a qualified consultant acceptable to Plaintiff (“Mutually Agreed Upon Consultant”) who shall assist it in improving the accessibility of its Website so that it complies with version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG 2.0 AA”)
Congress passed the ADA in 1990. So I suspect the Internet was not at the top of its mind. The Act no doubt concerned itself with more “tangible” matters – like building accessibility and workplace accommodations. But laws evolve and change with the times. And it helps to remember the purpose of a law – in this case, the purpose was to make the world more inclusive. When viewed in that light, it makes perfect sense that a Web site be accessible to the blind and visually impaired.
I don’t know enough of the facts to decide if Mr. Jahoda’s case is a slam dunk, but I hope the case gets resolved in manner that satisfies all concerned. And if your business operates a Web site, it’s worth your while to make sure it’s accessible to the blind and visually impaired. They would appreciate the assist.