Disability Law

Disability Law Lags Behind Technology, White House Official Says

The Americans with Disabilities Act is 20 years old and needs to catch up with technology, a White House official says.

Kareem Dale, a special assistant to President Obama on disability policy, tells the Washington Post that the law has produced a “sea change” benefiting disabled Americans. He points to curb cuts and specially outfitted buses that benefit those in wheelchairs, for example, and braille in hotel rooms and elevators.

But Dale says the ADA is lagging behind developments in technology. One legal question, he says, is whether the ADA applies to websites. “Many courts have said no and maybe a couple have said yes, but it’s been an open question,” he told the Post. “Our Department of Justice just announced [on Friday] that they plan to issue some proposed rule-making about ADA applying to websites.”

The Justice Department has set a six-month comment period for proposed website regulations, Reuters reports.

According to a press release, the department is also considering regulations that would:

• Require movie theaters to show movies with closed captions and video descriptions at least half the time.

• Allow the public to make 911 calls through an Internet-enabled network.

• Require accessible equipment and furniture in government programs and public accommodations. Key areas of concern are equipment in medical settings and accessible kiosks and ATMs, according to a Justice Department fact sheet.

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