ADA in the News September 28, 2020

Feds: R.I. Board of Elections will make new HQ accessible to people with disabilities

An agreement announced Monday obligates the Rhode Island Board of Elections to make the new headquarters it rented in suburban Cranston - under a no-bid lease - more accessible to the handicapped.

Under the agreement announced by the U.S. Atty. Aaron L. Weisman, the elections board is required to engage the services of “a registered design professional” to “create a remediation plan” for the building at 2000 Plainfield Pike within 30 days.

The plan must ensure “that individuals with disabilities can readily park, enter, and exit the building.”

Amid complaints the building does not even have handicapped accessible public bathrooms, the agreement also specifically requires the board to ensure that disabled individuals can “access and participate in public hearings and use other facilities at the Board of Elections office.″

Simply put, in the language of the state architect who inspected the former Honeywell plant: “The restroom door is inadequate in width.”

Disbarred attorney continues to file ADA lawsuits

Peter Strojnik is no quitter.

The Arizona attorney disbarred in 2019 after filing an avalanche of copy-and-paste disability lawsuits is still suing businesses across our state and the western United States.

And with Strojnik no longer tethered by a law license or its required ethical rules and standards, some of the businesses and opposing attorneys believe his tactics are more aggressive than ever.

“He feels more liberated than he’s ever felt before,” said Lindsay Leavitt, an attorney who’s defended against hundreds of Strojnik’s past and current cases. “His lawsuits are more aggressive, demanding higher dollar figures than he’s ever demanded, and the actual claims in his lawsuits are less tethered to reality, the facts, and the law than they ever have been.”

Websites still don’t provide equal access in 2020 — and lawsuits are increasing

The coronavirus outbreak caused a shift in the usage of digital devices. As people worldwide become heavily dependent on the internet for essential information, work, school, entertainment, and basic needs such as medication and groceries, it’s clearer than ever that digital inclusion is crucial. Yet people with disabilities have struggled to stay informed, shop, and access critical services online due to text with low contrast and the confusion of filling out lengthy forms without labels — as well as a number of other barriers that make the web impossible for some people to use.

Countries around the world have enacted various non-discrimination and web accessibility laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. Examples of these are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 in the United States, and the European Accessibility Act  and EN 301 549 web directive in Europe. These laws mandate that digital content be accessible to individuals  with various disabilities, and many of them include deadlines for compliance and specific penalties for non-compliance. Canada’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), for example, mandates that public and private organizations in Ontario make their web content accessible by January 1, 2021 or be fined up to $100,000 and $50,000 respectively every day.

Answering FAQs About Digital Accessibility

This blog post answers several frequently asked questions about digital accessibility.

Feedback Form