CHICAGO (CBS) — Access to businesses and public places is protected by law for Americans with disabilities; but when it comes to websites and apps, the protection isn’t so clear.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Vince Gerasole has a look at how technology is leaving some behind.
It’s easy to take for granted how connected our lives are to technology, from ordering takeout to paying bills to shopping for pretty much anything.
You might think, for people with disabilities, online access is protected through the Americans with Disabilities Act, but not necessarily.
When the ADA was first passed by Congress in 1990, the public didn’t have access to the internet.
“There are no set standards or guidelines or enforceable requirements under the ADA,” said Peter Berg, project coordinator for technical assistance and employer outreach for the Great Lakes ADA Center.
As technology morphs into a necessity, not a luxury, the number of lawsuits challenging the accessibility of apps and websites is rapidly growing; nearly tripling from just 814 in 2017 the 2258 in 2018.
“The increase, I think, coincides with how we work and play on a daily basis,” Berg said.
Berg is legally blind, and uses an audio system to navigate the internet; for example, reading the drop-down menus as he moves his cursor over a website.
The system also describes images on the screen.
“It identifies it as a graphic and it identifies who the person is,” Berg said.
However, when poorly coded, the instructions to order take out from an Italian restaurant, for example, can be confusing, and sometimes cannot describe images on the screen.
Berg helps those with disabilities better use technology through the Great Lakes ADA Center; electronic advances that often leave some behind.
“We should have the same opportunity to participate and access goods,” he said.
Domino’s Pizza, which has been challenged for not providing access on its ordering platforms by a blind man in California, has asked The U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter and provide better guidelines.