SEP 9 1996

The Honorable Tom Harkin United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510-1502 Dear Senator Harkin: I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, XX , regarding accessibility of "web pages" on the Internet to people with visual disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires State and local governments and places of public accommodation to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the program or service or in an undue burden. 28 C.F.R. S 36.303; 28 C.F.R. S 35.160. Auxiliary aids include taped texts, Brailled materials, large print materials, and other methods of making visually delivered material available to people with visual impairments. Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media, or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well. Mr. XX suggests compatibility with the Lynx browser as a means of assuring accessibility of the Internet. Lynx is, however, only one of many available options. Other examples include providing the web page information in text format, rather than exclusively in graphic format. Such text is accessible to screen reading devices used by people with visual impairments. Instead of providing full accessibility through the Internet directly, covered entities may also offer other alternate accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, and/or audio materials, to communicate the information contained in web pages to people with visual impairments. The availability of such materials should be noted in a text (i.e., screen-readable)

format on the web page, along with instructions for obtaining the materials, so that people with disabilities using the Internet will know how to obtain the accessible formats. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Hill, FOIA n:\udd\hille\policylt\harkinxx.ltr\sc. young-parran 01-04337

-2The Internet is an excellent source of information and, of course, people with disabilities should have access to it as effectively as people without disabilities. A number of web sites provide information about accessibility of web pages, including information about new developments and guidelines for development of accessible web pages. Examples include: http: // Center for Information Technology Accommodation General Services Administration http: // Trace Center, University of Wisconsin http: // http: // These sites may be useful to you or your constituent in exploring the accessibility options on the Internet. In addition, the Department of Justice has established an ADA home page to educate people about their rights and responsibilities under the ADA and about the Department's efforts to implement the ADA. The address of the ADA home page is I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely, Deval L. Patrick

Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division 01-04338​ Deval Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20530 Dear Assistant Attorney General Patrick: I have recently been contacted by one of my constituents who has a concern over the administration's policy on making Web pages compatible for the disabled. I respectfully ask you to review the administration's policy on this issue and send me a clarification so that I might be able to respond to my constituent's questions. It would be helpful if you could mark your correspondence with my office to the attention of Laura Stuber. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this matter. Sincerely, Tom Harkin United States Senator TH/les

01-04339​ Mime-Version: 1.0 To: Subject: ADA and web pages Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Dear Senator Harkin, I'm a web designer based I Iowa City, and also a lawyer. I contribute a regular column to the Web Consultant's Association on-line newsletter. My topics usually lean toward the small designer, but recently a question of a different sort arose that interested me. One of the great concerns of web designers today is providing web page compatability for "web interpretters" for the blind and other handicapped peoples. These systems require web pages to be Lynx compatible, which means that the use of almost "essential" elements such as imagemaps and tables render the pages inaccessible to such people. Web designers, on the whole, would *like* to provide text-only alternatives to commercial web sites, but our clients are, by and large, not willing to pay anything extra for that service. An average estimate 01-04340​ ILLEGIBLE that it would raise the costs of each site, and continued ILLEGIBLE, by about 35 to 40%. ILLEGIBLE, someone recently noted that if one were to read the ADA very strictly, it could be argued that a web page (especially in the case of a government organization or public service agency) is a "public accommodation", and hence could be required by law (under the ADA) to be Lynx compatible. I think this is probably stretching the law a bit beyond it's intent--especially since the ADA was passed before the web became the popular tool that it is today. It does raise some interesting points, though. I posed the question to the list as a whole, and most designers (there are 8000 on the list) seemed to think that this was just the type of thing that might encourage people to "do the right thing" when they purchased site design. On the other hand, others pointed out that (beyond the initial cost concerns) government agencies would still mail materials to anyone who called, so they offered a viable alternative. My initial response was that, especially in the case of the blind, if they aren't offering *braille* printed materials, the web converters are, in fact, the *only* service the agency provides that can be accessed by the blind in a manner "equal" to that provided to others. This, of course, only spurred more interest. Needless to say, no firm conclusions were reached. I'm sure there's

probably an activist-oriented organization out there that has thought about this type of legal challenge, but as far as I know none are currently before the courts. I did offer to drop you a note, though, and see if maybe: A. There is currently any discussion in Congress surrounding the issue of equal access to the WWW for the handicapped, and, if so, whether that is in fact linked to the general themes established by the ADA. B. If not, would you be willing (or interested in) to provide a few words of input on the subject (if nothing else by way of support to help "encourage" those who are doing their best to forward this issue, and maybe to prod those that aren't thinking about it into at least recognizing the importance of the issue)? In either case, I would be more than happy to forward any material you thought appropriate to the WCA mailing list (and, if you were interested in being associated with that issue, to other appropriate lists as well) in the interest of at least providing some insight from the sponsor of the ADA itself. Sorry for the rather quick and dirty note--work calls. I hope my haste hastened weakened the message. Also, I'm not sure how your list of potential consultants on web/Internet issues looks, but I'd be more than offer to volunteer what services I could. By way of background, I have my BA in Communications from the UI, as well as a J.D. and an LL.M. I'm currently the webmaster at ACT in Iowa City, and President of my own web firm on the side. I spent the last three years in Washington running a small non-profit, and have some lobbying experience as well (as a clerk for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation). I'd be more than happy to provide any feedback/comments or any other services I could contribute in the effort to generate some decent net legislation. (And if you're really interested in such an offer, I do have a 15 minute fix to make the CDA not only workable, but constitutional ;) ). 01-04341​ appreciate your taking the time to wade through this and, of course, ILLEGIBLE you the best of luck in the coming election.

Sincerely, XX Webmaster - American College Testing President - Digital Alchemy (Standard Disclaimers Apply.) 01-04342