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US Law School Council Settles Web Access Legal Action

The Law School Admissions Council (LASC) in the US has agreed to make its website fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users following legal action by the country’s National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

The NFB filed a lawsuit against LASC in 2009 claiming that the organisation’s website – used by nearly every US law school to accept student applications – violated the California Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (a California-based piece of discrimination legislation).

The federation claimed it was not possible for screen-readers to recognise various text on the website, meaning that visually impaired law school applicants who wished to apply online were forced to rely on assistance from a sighted employee – over the phone – at LASC’s customer support service, which was only available at certain times.

Following a two-year legal battle a settlement has been reached whereby LASC will make its website accessible by allowing screen-readers to recognise all text on the site, meaning visually impaired applicants will be able to independently complete applications at a time of their choosing.

The changes will come into effect from September 1 this year, and the NFB will perform semi-annual accessibility testing of the site until September 1, 2012.

From 2006-08, the NFB was involved in a similar case supporting a class action against the US superstore chain Target for the alleged inaccessibility of its website. Target eventually agreed to pay six million dollars and make changes to its site, while not accepting liability (see http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=206 ).

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