This Week in Accessibility: Bartleson v. Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Disabled Employees suing Employers over Inaccessible Technology is the next logical evolutionary step in ADA / accessibility lawsuits

Two men in shadow, one arguing, the other hiding behind a file folder
  • the internet isn’t a public accommodation
  • the law is too vague to require WCAG as a standard

What are an employer’s obligations under the ADA/Section 504/EECO?

Employers with fifteen or more employees have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations such as assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. The only allowable exceptions (and they are all very narrow for different reasons) are:

  1. When providing a reasonable accommodation would cause a safety issue, or:
  2. When the employee still would not be able to perform the primary tasks of their job even with the accommodations in place.

Why don’t organizations care more about their employees?

My belief is that this lack of organizational interest in their employees well-being goes back to the long-discredited trope of viewing disability through the lens of charity. If organizations actually cared about all people with disabilities, they would give their internal tools as much (if not more) attention as public facing tools. More often that not, their response is reactive and only those that are perceived as a legal threat (i.e. the proverbial “squeaky wheel”) get attention. Executives, consciously or not, view employees with disabilities as non-threatening — quite possibly in part because of an outmoded belief that people with disabilities should be grateful for having a job at all. And it is for this very reason that employees with hidden disabilities (which is 70 % of all disabilities) go to great lengths to avoid even anonymous disclosure of their disability in the workplace, to avoid active discrimination.

Conclusion

You may think the ADA/Section 508/EEOC doesn’t apply to your company. It may not *directly* apply to your company (you might have a number of employees below the limit, or you might not sell to organizations that come under Section 508). But unless your business is making pine cone jewelry in a town that doesn’t have internet access and you don’t have a website, chances are you either work for a company that comes under the ADA/Section 508 or you want to partner with or sell to a company that comes under the ADA/Section 508

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

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