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The Americans with Disabilities Act requires organizations to provide physical access to people with disabilities. With the advent of the Web, federal legislation may extend into cyberspace. (The "Federal Support" sidebar highlights some relevant legislation.) How courts will apply ADA is still uncertain. Federal cases in which ADA has been applied to cyberspace are still under review at various court levels. On the state level, however, the New York State attorney general recently required Priceline and Ramada Inn to make their Web sites accessible and subject to independent accessibility audits. Other research has examined the accessibility of college and university, corporate, and retail Web sites relative to the ADA. The authors conducted a study on the accessibility of the Web sites of US government agencies and branches of the US government and their contractors, which, like university sites, are mandated to be accessible. They also attempt to determine the types of accessibility barriers that occur most frequently on these sites. Because the study is preliminary, findings are basic estimates of accessibility; you should not construe them as statistically representative of all sites offered. However, our findings on accessibility barriers can serve as a guideline to Web designers seeking to create sites that effectively communicate their contents to people with disabilities.
Date of Publication: Jan-Feb 2005