This most recent accessibility litigation evolution has been predicted for the past couple of years by ADA legal experts.

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Editorial License from stock.adobe.com

Dylan Panarra v. HTC Corp — Case 6:20-cv-06991, Filed 11/18/20 in the United States District Court, Western District of New York.

This is just plain, bad #DCX — Disabled Customer Experience.

Case Details

  1. Dylan Panarra is profoundly deaf.
  2. Panarra wanted to use Viveport Infinity (defendant HTC’s gaming service) with his Oculus Rift device.
  3. Panarra is excluded from equal access to Viveport because there are no captions for the audio track.
  4. Defendant HTC advertises its product as the “Netflix of VR.” Netflix, after litigation, does caption many of their videos.
  5. Viveport Infinity is the only subscription service that provides unlimited VR content.

It’s not any more complicated than that. …


Separating what IS good from what just sounds good

Blank certificate of achievement with place for name, event description, and signature
Blank certificate of achievement with place for name, event description, and signature

Certification is:

  1. a standardized method with a formal process
  2. that individuals use to demonstrate that they are qualified at a specific level in particular knowledge or skills.
  • Hiring managers use certifications to identify candidates that possess the skills the organization needs.
  • Project managers use certifications to reinforce that potential partners employ people with those skills.
  • With respect to products, certification means that the product meets a particular standard.

People are increasingly posting that they (or their products) have been recently received a certificate in some accessibility-related topic. Even more so, people from outside of the United States are posting certificates as “proof” that their skill sets include an understanding of American accessibility requirements. …


Stop using conference registration forms, submission portals, and platforms that discriminate against people with disabilities.

Person sitting at table filling out form on laptop
Person sitting at table filling out form on laptop
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

In the first of two articles I have recently published on accommodations, I addressed what accommodations are. The second focused on what can happen when an organization turns down a valid request for an accommodation. This final article focuses on HOW to ask someone whether they need an accommodation.

The first thing that any person with mobility issues, a person with a service animal, or a person with vision/hearing loss looks for on a conference registration form is “Where do I tell them what I need to participate equally?”

The majority of conference registration forms I fill out don’t include a place for this information. Instead, they have a cheery, catch-all question at the end that says something to the effect of “anything else you would like to tell us?” …


There are plenty of articles on how to move from an individual contributor role to being a manager. Not so many the other way around.

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Nine months ago, I was presented with a choice. My job responsibilities had grown beyond the ability of one person to manage the role. Even though I thought I was OK, my management was concerned with me burning out. The first question they asked me was, would I be interested in splitting my job into two pieces? A choice followed that question:

  • Behind door number 1 was the choice of keeping the management part of my accessibility job.
  • Door number 2 consisted of an individual contributor role focused on accessibility strategy, outreach, and innovation with no managerial responsibilities.

Which piece of the job did I want to fill going forward? …


After four years of ridicule and inattention to PwDs being completely normalized, the future is looking slightly brighter.

Two people hidden behind “Biden President 2020” banner
Two people hidden behind “Biden President 2020” banner
Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

My first presidential countdown clock started January 20, 2017, the day President Trump took office. My expectations of disability rights stagnating during his administration were more than met when I was named a “serial plaintiff,” and my right to file 504 complaints on behalf of children who had been discriminated against in K-12 settings was suspended for 9 months. Unfortunately, my expectations were exceeded at a horrifying level after the pandemic started, which shifted people with disabilities to the back of the line for jobs, ventilators, and COVID treatment.

My second countdown clock started last week, when Joe Biden was named President-elect on November 7 by several news organizations. The third (and hopefully last) will start on December 14th after the electoral college confirms Biden as the next president. I am not putting it past the current administration to try and pull some serious shenanigans as the date of their eviction looms. …


Anyone with a disability has endless stories about being treated differently SOLELY on their PwD status. #DCX tracks those stories.

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Having had a life-long mobility disability, I think I’ve heard it all, and then it never ceases to fail that someone reaches a new low.

  • When I was in law school, back when I was still trying to walk, the path I had to traverse every year to get my disabled parking placard validated by my university had an exceptionally steep wheelchair ramp that I could not use with my fused ankles. …


Two cartoon individuals reviewing individuals digital profiles
Two cartoon individuals reviewing individuals digital profiles

This is Part 2 of a two-part article. Read Part 1, The Manager’s Practical Guide to Handling an Employee Newly Diagnosed With a Disability here.

What are accommodations?

An “accommodations request” is as simple as an individual communicating the following type of request through ANY channel. The request doesn’t have to be written, though in writing is easier to prove the request was made if there is a dispute later.

“I need X to do Y because Z”

Where X is the requested accommodation;

Y is the task being accommodated

and Z is the reason related to a health condition or disability.

The word “accommodation” does not need to be included in the request. In fact, “accommodation” is a very US-centric term. Other countries use different terms, including modifications and adjustments. …


Don’t use this as an excuse. Even awful is better than 98 % of what other people are doing.

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My primary goal in life is to convince people to make things accessible, which is defined as making products and services work for people with disabilities. But to avoid the peaks and valleys of the accessibility emotional roller coaster, people just getting started on their accessibility journey need to accept the following statement at face value: Your first effort at accessibility is unlikely to be outstanding.

Why?

person drinking cofee reading a book titled “expert secrets”
person drinking cofee reading a book titled “expert secrets”
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

1. No one starts a new skill at the expert-level

Accessibility is like speaking a foreign language or playing the violin. It takes a lot of practice before you are any good.

Fifty guidelines? How hard can it be? …


TL;DR: They internalize the dominant paradigm: abled is good, disabled is bad. Exhibit #1: Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott

Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas at news conference at the end of September 2020
Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas at news conference at the end of September 2020

Greg Abbott is a wheelchair user, only the third wheelchair-using governor in United States history. What happened that caused him to need to use a wheelchair is clearly outlined in a very inspiration porn-like page on his personal website, touting his victory over pain through “perseverance” and “triumph over tragedy.”

But that wheelchair-using history didn’t stop him from recommending to a state regulatory board to remove LGBTQ protections and people with disabilities in the state social work system. …


2020 accessibility lawsuits are on track to be close to 50 % higher than either 2018 or 2019. This article reviews a single week’s worth of those lawsuits.

Pad of paper with empty “this week” tear sheets on them.
Pad of paper with empty “this week” tear sheets on them.
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

PACER is the go-to tool for lawyers wanting information about the status of and filings for particular lawsuits. But PACER is wicked expensive, especially if you are interested in it for trends/research and aren’t specifically looking at the data for litigation purposes.

I’ve been very fortunate that Jason Taylor from UsableNet, a provider of accessibility technology and services, collects data from PACER to help inform UsableNet’s future services and clients on ensuring digital inclusiveness and avoid legal actions. You can read UsableNet’s mid-2020 accessibility litigation update here.

I discussed the number of accessibility lawsuits being even higher than the last two years, despite court closures due to COVID with Jason on LinkedIn. Then, I asked him to provide me with access to one week’s worth of cases (it happens to be the week of Sept 21, 2020) to see if I could analyze them in a way that informs people and lead them to positive accessibility action. Of course, this approach presumes that the organizations that are not yet accessible are long past the “it’s the right thing to do” argument, or they would have become accessible already. …

About

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

Accessibility Architect @ VMware. W3C Silver, ITI & IAAP GLC committees. Degrees in CS, law, business. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter.

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