Lawsuits over making websites more accessible for disabled

disabled websiteA number of websites are facing lawsuits that claim the sites aren’t easily accessible for disabled users. For example, Vox and The Hollywood Reporter say that Beyonce was sued in January over her website being inaccessible because it has a “purely visual interface.” As you may know, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires websites to be more accessible and consider those which aren’t in violation of the civil rights of disabled users because they limit communication and participation in society. The National Associations of the Deaf has also sued Netflix, by not providing equal access to its “watch instantly” streaming video. You might think the problem would be getting better with awareness, but Vox reports it’s only getting worse. 

ADA lawsuit against Florida Board of Bar Examiners can proceed

A lawsuit against the Florida Board of Bar Examiners that claims applicants with mental health conditions must undergo invasive procedures in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be allowed to proceed, the ABA Journal reports. The lawsuit, brought by former Army captain and law student Julius Hobbs, claims he would have to submit to a range of expensive medical and mental evaluations for his bar application to be considered.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners told Hobbs that it needed all of his medical records. Also, he would need to submit a full medical evaluation, which would include a psychiatric evaluation, a substance disorder use evaluation, a complete physical examination and psychosocial testing, according to the order. The exams had to be done by one of 11 doctors specified by the board, and Hobbs would need to pay for it, with the procedures costing up to $5,000.

Hobbs says his mental health issues, including adjustment issues, anxiety, mood disorders and excessive alcohol use, stemmed from working with explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that it could proceed after dismissing the Florida Supreme Court as a defendant. Read more at the ABA Journal. 

Podcast: Proposed changes to the ADA Education and Reform Act

CongressThe House of Representatives has passed HR 620, also known as the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. Critics say the changes would restrict the rights of disabled Americans with the goal of limiting “frivolous” lawsuits. In this podcast from the Legal Talk Network, RinglerRadio hosts Larry Cohen and Peter Early talk to Robyn Powell, an attorney, writer and scholar whose work focuses on disability law and policy. They discuss the controversial changes to the ADA, and how they could affect disabled Americans.

Justice Dept. revokes guidance on ADA

Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to rescind 25 guidance documents issued by the Justice Department, including some which clarify the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Disability Scoop. The revoked documents include guidance on several issues related to the disabled, including employment, service animals and access to buildings. Sessions said the affected documents are “improper or unnecessary,” and go beyond the scope of the law. The move by the Justice Department has created concern among some disability advocates. Read more about how the changes may affect disabled Americans here.