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Two Paths for Digital Disability Law

By Blake Reid

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 65 No. 5, Pages 36-38

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People with disabilities often cannot count on modern digital devices, software, and services to be accessible. Will streaming video platforms include closed captions for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing? How will virtual assistants work for users with speech disabilities? Can websites be read aloud by text-to-speech engines for readers who are blind or visually impaired? How will smartphones be accessed by people with physical and mobility disabilities? What barriers do increasingly complex applications pose for people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities?

Some tech companies highlight accessibility in their design and marketing, but many have become the targets of lawsuits and regulatory enforcement for inaccessible products and services. Indeed, digital accessibility has its roots in a decades-long legal movement.


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