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Self-Storage Talk Heats Up With Chat About ADA Updates

By John Carlisle Comments
Posted in Blogs

Few will argue the good intentions of legislation that protects people with disabilities, so the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 certainly has importance in self-storage development or planning. Among many other requirements, the law demands that public (and quasi-public) places built after a certain time to be accessible for people with physical and other challenges (for example, ramps to entrances, electronic buttons to open doors, etc.). But the ADA can expand itself beyond physical, exterior accommodations to less obvious environments such as the Internet. On Self-Storage Talk (SST), the industry’s largest online community, member hurlco recently pointed out that proposed ADA updates could apply to business websites on the thread "ADA: You Won't Believe This!"

What does a website have to do with the ADA? According to the documents outlining the proposed ADA expansions, the visually impaired or epileptic may have reactions to websites that contain print or graphics that are too small, fast-moving action or strobe effects. The hearing-impaired, who often use transcription software to help them read a script of Web audio, often click on online videos that aren't compatible with their transcription software.

Hurlco's concern is the scope for which a business will have to accommodate disable Web visitors has no bounds. He believes it’s impossible to expect every business running a website to market or sell its products and services to comply with such broad regulations. Businesses would have to meet a deadline, as well. Hurlco writes, "The proposed new regulations, if implemented, would require new and completely redesigned websites as well as new pages of existing websites that come online six months after the effective date. Existing websites would have two years from the effective date of the final rule to comply."

Responding posters have shared ambivalent reactions about the proposed changes. On one hand, it feels heartless and callous to complain about rules designed to protect people whose lives are undeniably harder than an average person's. However, as SST member Gina6k points out, many workarounds already exist. For example, visually challenged people can enlarge screen print by pressing Control and the plus sign on their keyboards. Secondly, regulating the Internet has always been a tricky endeavor for governments.

The jurisdiction of a website is often nebulous because the Internet is technically a borderless, nationless place. To whom will the laws apply, and who will be exempted? Others believe the onus should be on hardware and software manufacturers, such as Microsoft and Apple, to create products and Web browsers that would automatically make websites compliant, arguing that putting the burden on each domain-holder is unfair and will be ineffective. More details about the proposed changes and people's reactions to them are available on the thread.

If you have some insight or a burning opinion, by all means, visit the discussion and log in to share it. You must be a registered member to post, but SST registration is free, easy and can be done by visiting and clicking "register."


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