Disability Act not applicable to the Internet

— 4:01 AM on October 22, 2002

The web is a decidedly visual medium, and as such, it's not exactly the friendliest place for the visually impaired. Advocacy groups for the blind have challenged web sites that don't accommodate the visually impaired under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but a US District Court judge recently dismissed one such challenge against Southwest Airlines.

The ADA says that any "place of public accommodation" must be accessible to people with disabilities. The law, enacted in 1990, lists 12 categories, including hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, universities and bowling alleys.

Seitz said that because Congress was so careful to specify what kinds of physical spaces are covered by the ADA, it's clear the act does not apply to the Internet.

Under current law, the ruling seems fair, but I have to wonder how long the law will remain unchanged. Should certain Internet sites become "places of public accommodation," or is there perhaps another way to ensure that the visually impaired aren't shut out of the Internet?
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