Hat tip to Kim Krause Berg, who is in turn tipping her own hat to Rosie Sherry. Article at The Register.
Although it’s interesting to see another lawsuit on the inaccessibility of a software product, this suit is fundamentally different from the Target lawsuit currently in process. That lawsuit, dealing with a commercial website’s accessibility level to the general public, has the potential to set a landmark precedent for website accessibility. No United States law currently explicitly states that a commercial website must provide any level of accessibility. This lawsuit could potentially provide a precedent which would interpret existing law as having this requirement.
This Oracle lawsuit, however, involves software which is a) not a website and b) was purchased by the state of Texas for use in their state human resources department. The fact that the lawsuit is associated with a government entity makes this a very different case. Texas state law as well as Federal law clearly address the issue of accessibility of government technology: the state of Texas has extensive guidelines concerning accessibility which should be referred to when constructing web sites or other electronic or information resources:
House Bill 2819, 79th Regular Legislative Session
State agencies must ensure that state employees and members of the public with disabilities have the same access to electronic and information resources as state employees and members of the public without disabilities, unless providing that access would impose a significant difficulty or expense on the agency.
The provision of a necessary piece of work software which does not meet these standards is a direct contradiction of Texas state law. This lawsuit will not have the same impact, legally, that the Target case has.
That’s not to say that it’s insignificant, however. It will help bring issues of accessibility to a greater awareness, as well as encouraging a large software company to make accessibility a greater consideration for their own products. It may not result in a major new interpretation of law, but should certainly result in better software for the human resources department of the state of Texas.