Perusing the comments section of a recent article by the Wall Street Journal titled "Disabled Sue Over Web Shopping* is reminiscent of the attitude toward women in the late 1800’s. How ridiculous was the feminist notion that they wanted to be treated equally to men and actually have the right to vote? (Full disclosure to those of you just skimming this article and who have already started writing a nasty comment… this is a tongue-in-cheek paradigm, included to make a point.)
The concept that people should be treated equally has been tested throughout history. Luckily, those of us living in the United States embrace the concept of human equality as a keystone of our civilization. In fact, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… Declaration of Independence (US 1776).
However, some people seem to be trying to rewrite history, because as you read through the comments section, the ugly truth is revealed. Too many citizens seem to believe that people who require special needs should be ignored, and that giving people living with disabilities equal access to public information is not worthy of our efforts. To quote part of one such comment, “A ridiculous issue! Just pick up the phone and order through Customer Service.”. We are left speechless.
We in the accessibility community all have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to education the public about the importance of being inclusive. The level of ignorance seen in the comments section of this article, and unfortunately many more like it, is only the tip of the iceberg.
We are the Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA). We believe, as do our partners, competitors and friends, that everyone should have equal access to public information, products and services. Just as handicapped parking spots and wheelchair ramps were once a novelty of just a few brick and mortar establishments, the accessibility of information technology will one day be seen as a requirement of all Internet spaces as well and BoIA plans to be there to help blaze the trail to equality.
* Palazzolo, J. (2013, March 21). Disabled Sue Over Web Shopping. Wall Street Journal.