Saturday, December 02, 2006

HALL OF SHAME

Needless to say, I'm very frustrated about the lack of progress in getting high tech companies to recognize the needs of people with disabilities. Aside from venting my feelings to these companies and through this blog, I will be sure to let the Congress and Senate know about how the lack of enforcement of accessibility "guidelines" is hurting people

Here are my latest installments regarding my experiences with IT and telecom products and services. These companies and their products are all my first picks for the HALL OF SHAME!


SKYPE

I volunteered the following information to SKYPE 'customer support' via an online form they provide for reporting problems:

Simply stated, my problem is that the Skype application is not accessible to anyone with a vision impairment. Yet another popular application that I will be unable to use because the developers failed to support the standard 'accessibility' settings built into Windows.

Why is it that UI programmers fail to consider the needs of visually impaired users? There are over 20 million in the USA. Most need only minor adjustments for font size and, the ability to adjust the background and font color schemes to increase contrast.

Windows UI provides the means to do this BUT inconsiderate and poorly educated designers take it upon themselves to ignor the user preferences -- thus, eliminating any possibility of using the installation, setup and applications menus.

It's been FIFTEEN YEARS since passage of the ADA and yet another tech company is making it impossible for people with disabilities to participate in society. You're hurting people with your ignorance and you should be ashamed!

FYI: You can read along with any response sent to me in reference to this submission on my Blog, 'Fullervision.blogspot.com'

SKYPE's REPLY

"Your support request was not submitted as there are some possible answers in our knowledgebase, they are listed below. If your answer is not listed then please click the button at the bottom of this page."

"Hello again fullervision,

We hope you've enjoyed your first couple of weeks with this great piece of software..."





Surely -- you jest...


Sunday, September 24, 2006

OUTSIDE THE BOX

Filmmakers with disabilities challenge tereotypes about disabled people.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Accessibility Review: COMCAST 'Rhapsody' Media Player

The progress of Internet/IT companies in implementing 'Universal Design Principals' into products and services is not good. For some reason my former colleagues working at the forefront of technological change seem to lack any modicum of recognition of the accessibility requirements of disabled people.

I am reminded of comments made to me by venture capitalists [when I told them I was working on consumer products designed specifically for people with disabilities], "Oh, those people don't have any money." Despite facts indicating an enormous and growing market, these individuals would not be dissuaded in their belief.

That was 1990, but today surely companies are more aware of the need for 'Universal Design' in their products and services -- besides, the ADA and other regulations require companies to make sure their products have accessibility built-in. Things must have changed. Don't you believe it!

Today, companies introducing new products or services are no better at designing in accessibility than they were in the 1950's. Indeed, things have gotten much worse -- people used to be nice and many companies were known for caring about their customer’s satisfaction. Many years ago it was easy to contact a company to complain about a problem. Not so today.

In this age of unbridled greed and materialism anything goes and no manager is willing to be responsible for spending one dime on 'non-essential' requirements -- like accessibility for customers with disabilities. Despite our fine sounding laws and regulations there is no enforcement of accessibility requirements by government regulators -- making the 'digital divide' into an ever-widening canyon.

Enough pontificating! On with my review of yet another media player. As of this writing I have not yet found a truly accessible media player. They all seem to be inaccessible. I find this puzzling, as they didn't start out this way. I remember in the early 90's media applications were straightforward. It is also true that nobody was trying to build a proprietary business around such a function.

Here is an account of my recent experience with COMCAST 'Rhapsody'.

'Rhapsody' is the brand name of a new heavily advertised music service offered by COMCAST to their Internet ISP subscribers.

First off, it's advertised as 'FREE' so, call me stupid -- I assumed this to be true. After all, they offer precious little else to their cable modem subscribers -- other than a limited form of 'broadband' at a rather steep price (somewhat dependent on the customer's negotiating skills).

[In a subsequent post I write much more about Comcast’s on-going efforts to stifle all possible competition -- screwing subscribers and directly responsible for the USA being ranked #16, well behind other industrialized countries in terms of telecom infrastructure.]

I received an email from COMCAST inviting me to use this new 'Free' service and I decided to try it. I was hopeful that I would be able to use this service -- since I have eliminated all other music players previously.

As I mentioned earlier, all the music players I have tried thus far have been inaccessible. This access problem is their lack of accommodation of my vision impairment. I am unable to change their color schemes or, get them to work using the settings I have selected using either 'ZoomText 8.0'. Windows 'accessibility' settings are ignored.

In trying to work around such problems I find that, at best I am not able to use the application. At the worst, applications such as Apple QuickTime Player and Real Networks' RealPlayer both failed to function and screwed up my machine. The worst by far was the RealPlayer, which also installed unwanted applications with pop-ups and required hours to be spent, getting it off my system.

To add insult to injury I have never found any contacts that I might ask for help or, complain to about their product. More amazing to me is that they have virtually no reference to the terms 'accessibility’, in any of their help files or FAQs. I have spoken to other blind people who have confirmed that my experiences were the same as theirs -- and not due to 'operator error'.

I am therefore very reluctant to install any new media players and avoid RealPlayer content altogether (I usually write to anyone publishing exclusively with RealPlayer (asking for alternative formats like MP3), explaining the accessibility problem.

So there I was installing Rhapsody when it became apparent that 'Rhapsody' is a product of Real Networks. Immediately I was on guard and began scrutinizing the installation screens for the little checked boxes that would likely be there to make me install 'Real JukeBox' and other Real ‘flotsam’ ('RealSpam').

Very reluctantly I inched forward through the installation and soon found myself struggling through yet another inaccessible installation program.

At this point I realized there was faint hope that this player would be any different than its ‘Real’ parent. I knew then that I had kissed another frog!.

Sure enough, as Rhapsody was launched I was treated to a dazzling display of 'whiteness'! There were white menus with white text displayed on a white background. There was even little white 'tips' popping up to help me along my way...

In case you forgot or just ‘Googled’ in (maybe searching for ‘duck blinds'), I will point out I am visually impaired. Oh no! Yes, its true, and no big deal – I’m cool with it. I mention this because it is important to understand that I need contrast to help me see menus, controls and screen text.

Specifically, I need white text on a high contrast darker background. So simple. Strangely, the other monkeys, which I share this planet with, still think computers should look like 'paper'! IT'S NOT PAPER! It's more like a light bulb! Why would anyone intentionally choose to read text off a light bulb? For some really strange reason most all Internet applications developers are either totally inconsiderate or incredibly stupid!

Forgive my rant but as you get to know me you will realize I do get back on point -- eventually.

Anyway, I struggled to find any 'preferences' or ‘settings’, which might let me alter this crap thing's appearance.

Why do I even try? I also searched the Real Networks' website and related web postings -- hoping to learn how to change this things ways. No luck.

I next searched Real Networks for any and all possible human contacts (thinking that I might give their execs some pointers on accessibility.) There was none listed anywhere.

It's somewhat amusing that the super secret NSA's administrators are more accessible (seriously)!

Anyway, suffice it to say that I found this product to be REALCRAP! On top of that I discovered that in my ‘snow blind’ condition I apparently overlooked that my 'free' 14 day subscription. After the 14 days passed I was being charged a monthly $9.99 for this wonderful Rhapsody service!

This activated my sense of irony and I decided that these guys needed a 'wake up call'. I am reporting COMCAST’ failure to meet basic requirements for accessibility as provided in Section 255 of the Telecom Act.

Congratulations to all of you top secret morons at Real Networks! You’re this month’s winner of our ‘Inconsiderate Idiot Award!

Incosiderate Moron Awards

This section began as a selection of the email correspondences between me and people I was hoping to get answers from about accessibility problems I encountered.

The responses I received were so stupid, that I decided to share them with everyone and to make an official contest -- with awards and all! Please feel free to join in with your own experiences. It's time we got these people the recognition they so richly deserve!

The goal is to identify and explain to others why they or their organization's actions/products or services are inconsiderate of the needs of people with disabilities.

We now invite our readers to contribute their own emails and to make nominations.

New Year's eve we will choose and publish your choice of a champion! Part of the fun will be to notify anyone so nominated of their special recognition we feel they deserve.

The overriding goal will to recognize and identify the industries, companies and individuals who have truly demonstrated they are vastly ignorant of accessibility or, who's efforts have set back all hope of positive progress in the 21st century.

Special categories will be created for web designers, web applications developers and other uninformed and uncaring professionals. Because of the scale and magnitude of the crimes of the Bush Administration and their stooges in the Senate, Congress and their cadre of appointed public officals we will create a special 'Dishonorable and Unmentionable Award' catagory for the "parasitic traitors" in both political parties (especially George Bush' republicans).

Is there a really mean, ignorant, stupid or worthless product, service, software app, government agency/official, building, company or, celebrety that deserves such recognition? You know it! Make your nomination today, tell us about your choice(s) and -- don't forget to vote for your favorite!
Promoting the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities

s

The United Nations has been elaborating an international convention on the human rights of persons with disabilities. As part of preparation for the future implementation of the envisaged convention, a roundtable discussion will be organized by the United Nations Focal Point on Disability on 11/11/2005.

I was asked by Commissioner, Victor Pineda, to videotape the proceedings for a film he is producing. It was a very impressive gathering of some of the brightest minds involved in the Disability Rights Movement. I was particularly struck by the idea of 'human rights' vs 'civil rights'. As a Native American I am aware of the tragic consequence of the 'civil' law concept which recognizes 'property rights' as the basis of our legal system. With respect to disability, with the emphasis on Human Rights -- rather than Civil Rights makes an enormous difference. I believe that this approach as taken by the United Nations will make a positive contribution to the movement here in the United States. I will provide updates when they are available as to the progress this effort makes in the years ahead.

Berkeley Panel Discussion

The Panel discussion will take place in close cooperation with internationally reputed disability and human rights organizations, such as the World Institute on Disability (WID), The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund(DREDF), the Human Rights Advocate, and renowned international experts in disability studies.

The Panel will discuss the following:

- The role of International and national law in promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities

- “ Law As A Tool for Social Change” Implications for persons with disabilities in both developed and developing countries

- Lessons form the Disability Rights Movements at local, national and international levels

- Emerging Disability Rights Discourse:

Cross-cultural Dialogue and Development

- Future Disability Rights Movement


Location: 2240 Piedmont Ave.
JSP Building,
Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley Campus

Monday, January 20, 2003

Fullervision Statement of Principals

An Introduction and Background

My goal in launching this BLOG is to share with other interested individuals my thoughts and experience regarding subjects which interest me . My primary motivation stems from my professional involvement as a willing and able standard bearer for accessibility and usability of telecommunications (Telecom), Information Technologies (IT) and mass market 'consumer' electronics.

I believe technology should not discriminate by having a poorly designed user interface (UI), excluding use by people with disabilities. US laws and regulations prohibit such exclusion -- requiring manufacturers and service providers to provide "reasonable accomodation" to disabled people. To me any product and/or service that does not should be banned from the marketplace. This has been a traditional role of government -- to protect the public from excesses of the marketplace.

However, we live in a time of 'corporate socialism' and there is little or no enforcement of the 'fine sounding and high-minded' laws and regulations in the USA. The truth is that disabled people just don't have the political influence necessary to make politicians and the courts address such problems -- yet.

My career involved designing consumer electronics, cable television, /telecom and IT products and services. Whenever possible, I uded my knowledge, position and influence to advocate for the inclusion of disabled people. Such efforts were not often understood or respected by the business culture within corporate boardrooms.

Today, 'progress' for people with disabilities has largely come to a halt. One need only consider the 75% unemployment rate for disabled people to understand this fact. Finding this to be the case and, as own disability became more apparent, I decided to take a more aggressive stance.

As the US is seen racing backwards toward the cruel policies of the 19th century, it is time to abandon efforts of diplomacy, polite engagement and patience -- to instead reclaim what is already ours, our People Power!

I know that my experience with disability has given me a unique perspective. In facing the daily challenges posed by vision impairment has helped me to better understand the challenges faced by everyone challenged by a disability. If I can do it -- so can others! It's really a matter of perspective.

By engaging our vision we can begin improving our technologies to better serve the needs of all people. I envision a very exciting and bright future where technologies seem like magic, knowledge is always available and bringing people together on common ground of their own choosing. I embrace such a democratizing force for change and see it working equally well for all the World's peoples -- allowing them to choose their own scenarios for the future.

Today, most communications and information technologies are really badly designed with little or no imagination or creative thinking applied. This type of thinking has made me a heretic in Silicon Valley. This center of innovation seems to have forgotten that REAL innovation requires original thinking -- 'outside the box'.

The Future of Computing

To my way of thinking, the 'boat anchor' PC with it's attendant monitor and wire link it to the Internet -- could have been replaced long ago by ubiquitous, pervasive wireless 'Internet on denand'.

No need to be chained to your desk! computing infrastructure which weaves knowledge, communications and control, into a new social fabric embedded in the physical world. This technology would be good for people with disabilities!

In my experience the biggest obstacle to innovation and progress has U.S. business culture which exhibits paranoid, stereotypical thinking regarding people with disabilities. This hurts U.S. businesses because other countries are always looking for ways to better us and take over leadership in technology innovation.

Maintaining the status quo is the surest path to failure. The countries of the First World have aging populations. As such, truly 'cutting edge' technology products and services would naturally embrace these 'specs'. Attitude and perception are the real barriers to general acceptance of accommodating the needs of people with disabilities.

My approaches have changed over the years. From being the humble advocate -- hoping to persuade corporate decision makers with stories of improved usability and enhanced business opportunities -- to become a strident activist, determined to make companies comply with U.S. laws and regulations. Neither approach proved successful.

Now, I am thinking that the answer is in the strength of our numbers.

My efforts with gentle persuasion have not known much success, Neither did insisting which relied on the government to back me up. The good way is to recognize those companies that choose wisely to make products and services which improve the quality of life for all people. Such companies can find reward in greater market acceptance for their products and will earn positive brand recognition for themselves.

In the fullness of time the Disability Rights Movement will prevail and my message recognizing the need for change will be heard.

As 1 in 5 Americans have a disability and each of them has family and friends who would like to see them able to improve their career opportunities, independence and quality of life, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would choose to overlook such numbers.



Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Gordon Fuller

Friday, January 17, 2003

LEADING EMPLOYERS VIOLATING ADA

This report addresses the access problems encountered when I attempted to look for employment opportunities posted on the web sites of the top employers in the San Francisco's Bay.

These companies were listed by Fortune as the ‘‘Best Companies to Work For’’. If these companies truly deserve such an accolade they should respect the Americans with Disability Act’s Title 1 provisions. Not one of the following companies provide any accessibility information or, alternative modes for accessibility identified on the employment sections of their web site. All web sites, search engines and job postings are very inaccessible to vision impaired job seekers.

With the exception of Adobe Systems, these companies offered alternatives when I called their offices and identified myself as vision impaired. The alternatives offered was to transfer me to an extension in their HR departments. I was told these companies would make an accommodation whenever a person explains that they are vision impaired. It was not clear as to what they would do to accommodate me.

One suggestion was that staff in the HR department would accept my call and read over postings over the phone to me and accept my application for the available jobs. There was no indication as to whether I could contact them regularly for updates or, if they would send Internet accessible job information to me by email.

It is my informed opinion that, without direct access to the actual job postings on the Internet, vision impaired job applicants will be placed at a disadvantage. To the best of my knowledge these companies post many job offerings exclusively on their web site. My understanding of ADA’s Title 1 provisions is that these companies are in violation and their alternative access strategies (if any), are not sufficient.

As there are alternative accessibility solutions that can facilitate access by vision impaired people at very low cost (which will meet the ADA’s ‘’readily achievable’’ requirement, I would expect that they would be readily able to fix this problem. Companies like ION Systems, Inc. have suggested that these companies’ legal departments are hesitant to admit that they have a problem. All of the companies listed have been contacted by this company regarding their simple and inexpensive solution but, to date, none have responded.

In principal, the alternative access means offered by the companies whereby their HR staff would read their job listings over the phone – and any other means other than the Internet, would ‘flag’ vision impaired job applicants as ‘vision impaired’, making it possible to filter them out. Thereby, such alternative access is capable of discriminating against these applicants.

RESULTS OF SURVEY OF VISION IMPAIRED ACCESSIBILITY AT MAJOR BAY AREA EMPLOYERS

Adobe Systems
345 Park Ave.
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
Phone: 408-536-6000
Fax: 408-537-6000

Key People:
Officers & Employees
Co-Chairman: John E. Warnock,
age 61, $760,201 salary, $583,039 bonus
Co-Chairman: Charles M. Geschke,
age 62 SVP
Human Resources: Theresa Townsley

Adobe seems a clear cut case -- where in the end they put you though to a ‘Jobs Hotline’ extension that only tells you to “go to the Adobe web site – although I explained I was blind. Adobe’ HR was sent a letter about this issue last summer -- which they ignored completely. Adobe may also fall under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, because they are Federal Government contractors.

Adobe does accept a "Scannable PDF resume" to be mailed in to their staffing office but, the directions for preparing a "Scannable PDF resume" are only available on their website in very small type. Also, if you want to visit Adobe for an Interview, you must download a PDF form and fill it out.

I found no alternative means to find out about job listings with Adobe -- except on their website (the mailing address to send in a ‘scannable PDF resume’). They do not offer alternative job listings. They do offer applicants links to free email services.

Adobe’s telephone based ‘Job Hotline’ only recommended using their website, When I told their operators I was blind they put me though to the same ‘Job Hotline’ extension (where you could not lease a message.)

Agilent Technologies, Inc.
Company HQ Address
395 Page Mill Rd., PO Box 10395
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone: 650-752-5000
Fax: 650-752-5633
http://www.agilent.com

Key People
Officers & Employees
Chairman, President, and CEO: Edward W. (Ned) Barnholt, age 59, $941,666 salary (prior to title change)
EVP and COO: William P. (Bill) Sullivan,
age 52, $473,125 salary (prior to promotion)
SVP Human Resources: Jean M. Halloran, age 49

Agilient is a huge government contractor -- so they are certainly required to provide accessibility by Section 504. Agilient’s jobs website is not accessible for blind applicants using screen reader or low vision job seekers. No alternative accommodation is offered either. Only apply on-line and email communications. You must go to their web site for job information even when you call. But, when I told them I was blind they did give me the voicemail of the HR department.

The Charles Schwab Corporation
Company HQ Address
101 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-627-7000
Fax: 415-636-5970
www.schwab.com

Key People
Officers & Employees
Chairman and Co-CEO: Charles R. Schwab,
age 64, $650,003 salary
President, Co-CEO, and Director: David S. Pottruck,
age 53, $650,003 salary
EVP, Technology Innovation: Frederick E. Matteson
EVP, Human Resources: Mary McLeod

Their site was extremely difficult to even find the job application area. It took me several minutes to find it and it then is in an obscure pull down menu that would not be accessible to a screen reader or, to any low vision user. Everything was done through email. No alternative or accessibility information at all.

An interesting side note is that Charles Schwab himself was extremely dyslexic individual and has a foundation to benefit dyslexic individuals. The company therefore might be sensitive to being accused of mistreating people with a reading disability.

Through a call to their offices I was transferred to a recording ‘Job Hotline’ -- which only gave information about using their web site. When I pushed the operators again they did put me though to a person in HR who offered to help me personally.

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Company HQ Address
170 W. Tasman Dr.
San Jose, CA 95134
Phone: 408-526-4000
Fax: 408-526-4100
www.cisco.com

Key People
Chairman: John P. Morgridge, age 69
Vice Chairman:
Donald T. Valentine, age 70
President, CEO, and Director:
John T. Chambers,
age 53, $1 salary
SVP, Human Resources:
Kate D Camp

Their web site made no attempt at accessibility and the only way to apply for a job was through their web site.

I called their main number and the operator told me to go to their website but, when I told them I was blind, they did offer to put me through to the HR depsrtmentdepartment.

Genentech, Inc.
1 DNA Way
South San Francisco, CA 94080-4990 (Map)
Phone: 650-225-1000
Fax: 650-225-6000
http://www.gene.com

Key People
Chairman, President, and CEO: Arthur D. Levinson,
age 52, $780,000 salary, $985,000 bonus
EVP and CFO: Louis J. Lavigne Jr.,
age 53, $379,282 salary, $310,000 bonus
EVP, Development and Product Operations and Chief Medical Officer: Susan D. Desmond-Hellmann,
age 44, $500,491 salary, $425,000 bonus
VP, Human Resources: David Nagler,
age 49

There web site was set up very badly for low vision users also, they made no accessibility claim. Required email address to even apply for job. Upon identifing my self as blind they did put me through to a HR number.

Intel Corporation
2200 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8119 (Map)
Phone: 408-765-8080
Fax: 408-765-6284
Toll Free: 800-628-8686
http://www.intel.com

Key People
Chairman Emeritus: Gordon E. Moore,
age 73
Chairman: Andrew S. Grove,
age 65, $525,000 salary, $981,800 bonus
CEO and Director: Craig R. Barrett,
age 63, $575,000 salary, $1,075,300 bonus
President, COO, and Director: Paul S. Otellini,
age 51, $300,000 salary, $561,000 bonus
VP; Director, Human Resources: Patricia Murray

Intel recently named to list of 100 best companies for working mothers. I am sure that being in violation of the ADA would not go well with this award.

Their site was very difficult to use for a low vision and no effort for blind job applicants. Very poor for access.

When I called their offices I was told that I had to go to their web site but, when I explained that I am blind, I was transferred to a recording – telling me where to send my resume. However, there was no information on where or how to get job listings – other than their web site.

Intuit Inc.
2535 Garcia Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043 (Map)
Phone: 650-944-6000
Fax: 650-944-3699
Toll Free: 800-446-8848
http://www.intuit.com

Key People
Chairman: William V. (Bill) Campbell,
age 62
Chairman, Executive Committee and Director: Scott D. Cook, age 50, $450,000 salary, $400,000 bonus
President, CEO, and Director: Stephen M. (Steve) Bennett, age 48, $950,000 salary, $3,000,000 bonus
SVP, Human Resources: Sherry Whiteley,
age 43

The Intuit Inc. web site was very difficult to use for a low vision job applicant and no effort for a blind applicant. But they did have an answering machine in the Staffing Department and would call applicants back.

Very poor for access

Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Company HQ Address
4150 Network Circle
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Phone: 650-960-1300
Fax: 408-276-3804
www.sun.com

Key People
Officers & Employees
Chairman, President, and CEO: Scott G. McNealy,
age 47, $100,000 salary, $487,500 bonus
EVP, People and Places and Chief Human Resources Officer: Crawford W. Beveridge,
age 56

The Sun web site was no better and required an email address for web access. They will accept email inquiries

eBay Inc. (was not one the 100 companies to work for).
2145 Hamilton Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
Phone: 408-376-7400
Fax: 408-376-7401

Key People
Officers & Employees
Chairman: Pierre M. Omidyar,
age 32
President, CEO, and Director: Margaret C. (Meg) Whitman, age 46, $241,256 salary, $139,332 bonus
COO: Maynard G. Webb Jr.,
age 46, $500,000 salary, $646,137 bonus (prior to promotion)
SVP Human Resources: Eileen Nelson,
age 55

The eBay site was very difficult to access for low vision or blind job applicants but, their operators put me through to their HR dept when I told them I am blind.

Oracle Corporation (was not one the 100 companies to work for).
500 Oracle Pkwy.
Redwood City, CA 94065
Phone: 650-506-7000
Fax: 650-506-7200

Key People
Officers & Employees
Chairman and CEO: Lawrence J. (Larry) Ellison, age 58
EVP, CFO, and Director: Jeffrey O. (Jeff) Henley,
age 57, $825,000 salary
SVP, Human Resources: Joyce Westerdahl

Oracle did have a phone number and a place to submit a resume by phone or, by fax. They did not offer any other contact information – which would behe only possible way to access the job listing. At least they did not require an email
address to fill out a job application.
_______________________________________________________________________________

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WAS SENT TO TOP U.S. EMPLOYERS SELECTED FROM FORTUNE MAGAZINE'S "TOP COMPANIES TO WORK FOR". THERE HAS BEEN NO RESPONSE FROM ANY COMPANY CONTACTED TO DATE.

IT IS THE CORPORATE LAWYERS THAT TELL HR MANAGERS NOT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE LETTER. I BELIEVE IT IS BECAUSE OF THE WAY HR DEPARTMENTS 'FILTER' APPLICANT'S RESUMES AND JOB APPLICATIONS. ANYTHING THAT BRINGS SUCH PRACTICES INTO QUESTION IS CONSIDERED DANGEROUS BECAUSE ALL COMPANIES FILTER RESUMES BY SOME MEANS (OVER 10,000 RESUMES PER MONTH ARE RECEIVED BY SOME LARGE COMPANIES HR DEPARTMENTS). FILTERING BY AGE, ZIP CODE OR RACE MAKES THEM GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION.

I HOPE TO WEIGHT SUCH CONSIDERATIONS BY TRIGGERING LAWYERS PARANOID THINKING. I HOPE TO COMPELL THEIR COOPERATION BY MAKING CLEAR THE CONSEQUENCES IF THEY DO NOT MAKE EFFORTS TO CHANGE POLICIES. LAWYERS ARE EASY IF YOU CAN MAKE THEM PARANOID.
__________________________________________________________________________


Avoid an ADA Title 1 violation with this effective solution


Dear HR Manager

Please be advised that your company may unintentionally, be in
non-compliance with the requirements of Title I of The Americans with
Disabilities Act.

IF your company requires job seekers to utilize the corporate web site to
search or browse job listings, submit resumes and/or fill out applications
forms -- you are in violation of the ADA Tiele 1 regulations. If such
employment information is provided by your company exclusively through the
Internet -- there is no doubt that your company is in violation.

The problem is that people who are visually impaired require a means of
accomidating their vision impairment to br able to read the content due to
the manner in which such information is presented. Without such an
accomidation all coporate or agency employment information and resources are
inaccessible.

Be aware that Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 became
effective July 26, 1992 and prohibits private employers from discriminating
against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application
procedures. I regret the neccesity of having to bring this to your attention
but expect good things will come from you taking action to correct this
apparent oversight. Your company’s reputation assures me that my belief is
well placed.

ION Systems, Inc. has created a simple and effective accessibility solution
called ‘Web Eyes’ an Internet Explorer plug-in that allows visually impaired
job seekers to customize the display of web site content. Web Eyes allows
anyone visiting your web site to modify the font sizes, colors and contrast
to meet their individual requirements. With their Web Eyes plug-in they can
also use the customized display to complete forms and submit applications
on-line.

Web Eyes meets the test of 'readily achievable' and 'reasonable'. At $5,000
for a one year unlimited license to distribute to your customers it is a
cost effective accomidation. Within 5 days after receiving your purchase
order, Web Eyes will be available to your customers, mitigating potential
legal liability for your HR department.

Protect your company's reputation and gain the recognition and respect your
company will deserve for being socially responsible and concerned about
access for prospective employees and customers who are visually impaired.

I invite you to experience the Web Eyes solution. Please feel free to
contact me directly or ION Systems, Inc. for a demonstration of Web Eyes or,
to order Web Eyes services.

Sincerely,

Gordon Fuller
gleefull@pacbell.net
Tel: 650.726.4572

ION Systems, Inc.
800/983-6397
636/937-1828 (fax)
http://www.ionsystems.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CORRESPONDENCE ADDRESSED TO BAY AREA CHAPTER PRESIDENT OF SOCIETY OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGERS -- SEEKING THEIR HELP IN INTRODUCING ACCESSIBILITY SOLUTION TO THEIR MEMBERSHIP OF HR MANAGERS.TO DATE THERE HAS BEEN NO REPLY TO MY MESSAGES AND PHONE CALLS. VERY DISAPPOINTING.
____________________________________________________________________________

From: Gordon Lee Fuller [gleefull@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 10:42 PM
To: membership@nchra.org
Subject: ATTN: Marlyn Gamble HR Professionals, Need to Improve Accessibility


Dear Ms. Gamble,

I spoke this morning with Betty at your office and she suggested I address my initial correspondence to you. I have a serious problem that I want to bring to the attention of your organization, SHRM and your membership. I am hoping to find a Champion HR professional to help rectify the problem and share the news of such a solution to other HR professionals.

I am a legally blind, visually impaired person and I have discovered that virtually none of the "Best Companies to Work For" (Fortune's Top 100), in the Bay area have implemented accessible web sites for blind/visually impaired job seekers to access job listings, on-line applications, employment and career information or, offer any alternative means of doing so.

As you may be aware, this is in violation of the provisions of Title 1 of the Americans with Disability Act, which requires that job and employment information must be accessible. As there is an extremely high unemployment rate for college educated blind people (93%), this problem gives the impression that blind and visually impaired individuals need not apply for good jobs with even the best companies.

I realize that this is an oversight and I am determined to make this negative situation into a positive outcome for myself, other blind and visually impaired people and, human resources professionals -- who need to find highly motivated and qualified job applicants. I hope to offer the chance to at least one HR person to take the first step by implementing an effective solution for their company and, using the public relations resources of their company and your organization to get the word out to the rest of the HR professional community.

Please find attached a report I created with the help of my colleagues at ION Systems, Inc. (creators of Web EyesTM), which reviews local companies' web sites for employment information. The report serves to illustrate the problems encountered by anyone with a vision problem in accessing employment information. I have also attached an email I would send to HR managers in local companies, alerting them to the problem and offering an effective and economical solution (currently being installed with the Social Security Administration).

I hope that by writing to your organization with my problem that we can make a difference. I was initially quite angry about what I perceived to be total indifference to accommodating blind/visually impaired people. We face many barriers to accessibility in our daily lives which prevent us from benefiting from resources enjoyed by everyone else -- from cell phone features to architectural signs. But we live in a society of law which has decided that we must be fully included. It is yet early in this social revolution and there is much work to be done.

It is my greatest desire to create positive change on behalf of my fellow vision impaired citizens (many of which are not positive about being disabled). If we can make their lives a little better and easier we will see humanity blossom.

Thank you for your consideration. I may be contacted by reply email or, cell phone: 415.310.0550. Please feel free to call if you have any advice or questions.

Best Regards,

Gordon Lee Fuller

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FAILING TO GET THE HR PROFESSIONALS ORGANIZATION TO ASSIST ME, MY TASK IS CLEAR. i NEXT CONTACTED THE FEDERAL AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING U.S. LAWS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT -- THE EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC). THIS LETTER CONFIRMS MY APPOINTMENT.

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EEOC WALK-IN APPOINTMENT

Mr. Gordon Fuller
Email: gleefull@pacbell.net


Dear Ms. Fuller:

Your scheduled appointment time to have an interview with an Intake Officer concerning the possible filing of a charge of employment discrimination and retaliation, and where appropriate, related counseling, is as follows:

DAY: Wednesday DATE: January 22, 2003 TIME: 2:00 P.M.

Please note that the intake interview is normally scheduled for approximately one to two hours. As a reminder, the EEOC is tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. These laws protect workers from discrimination based on their Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, Religion, Age, Disability, and Retaliation. It is necessary for you to complete the attached questionnaire to enable the EEOC to assist you in this matter. If you already have completed and submitted your questionnaire to us, please also see page two of this letter. Otherwise, answer each question to the best of your ability and bring the questionnaire with you on the date of your appointment. Information provided on this form will be used by EEOC employees to obtain information to aid the EEOC in drafting a charge. Be sure to bring the following:

The enclosed questionnaire completed by you;
This letter (or something that indicates the date of your appointment);
Any relevant information, notes, documents, letters from your employer, etc.;
Names and telephone numbers of witnesses and what information they can provide;
If you are alleging harassment or sexual harassment, attach a brief chronology of events;

If you are alleging disability discrimination; please attach documentation regarding your disability showing the diagnosis, functional limitations (with and without mitigating measures) and/or documentation on reasonable accommodation requested for the disability.

Today's communication is meant to assist you in filing a charge, but it does not relieve you of your responsibilities. You have 300 days from the date of each allegedly discriminatory occurrence to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. If you have not filed within that time, your right to file will be lost. If you previously filed with the CA Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing, contact us immediately. If you cannot keep your appointment, please call as soon as possible to cancel the appointment and arrange for rescheduling. Calls for cancellation and rescheduling should be made to (415) 356-5101.

If you return the completed questionnaire to us but do not keep the scheduled appointment or inform us of your decision not to file a charge, we will automatically file a charge based on the information provided in the questionnaire. We will also automatically advise the organization you name in your questionnaire that you have filed a charge of discrimination against it.

If you are not certain you want to file a charge at this time, you may check the box on the first page of the questionnaire stating that you are contacting us for informational purposes only and havenot decided whether to file a charge:

Check this box if this information is provided to EEOC for informational purposes or only to help you decide whether to file a charge.

If we do not hear from you 30 days after we notify the organization of your charge, we will dismiss your charge and issue you a Notice of Right to Sue. You then have 90 days from the date you receive the Notice of Right to Sue to file a lawsuit in Federal Court on the matter. Once expired, the Notice of Right to Sue cannot be restored or extended.

Our office building is located at 5th & Market Streets. The entrance is on Market Street, next door to Copeland's Sporting Goods. In addition to street one hour metered parking, public parking is available at 5th & Mission, one block south of Market. We are also located near the Powell BART Station, MUNI underground, and other MUNI transportation.

Sincerely,

Tom MaGee,

Federal Investigator,

Tel. (415) 356-5070


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Federal Regulations and Laws of Significance to Vision Impaired people using the web.

People with vision problems make up by far the largest group of Americans with disabilities. The number of people in the US who are visually challenged is between 11 and 20 million. Of this group there are approximately 1.3 million who are considered legally blind (20/200 after correction is the beginning of legal blindness or, a visual field of vision of less than 20 degrees after correction also constitutes legal blindness.)

Of the legally blind group about 1 million have enough sight to be able to use a computer if the type was large enough and the color setting appropriate. The remaining 300,000 would need a screen reader such as JAWS or Windows Eyes to access the Internet.

The remaining 10 to 13 million (20/70 after correction is the beginning of vision impaired), who are considered to have vision impaired, could easily use the Internet if the type is large enough for them to see.

Beyond this demographic is a much larger group who find using the Internet difficult and tiring because the type on almost all web pages is just too small to read comfortably (and therefore they are not able to enjoy the many benefits of the Internet.

This group is made of a vast majority of older users who don’t consider themselves as 'vision impaired' -- often reporting that they just "don’t see as well as they use to". Allowing this group to control the size of the type on each page viewed would make their web experience possible and much more pleasant. This group would be much more likely to utilize a web site that is easy to read.

Federal attempts to make access to the vision challenged community.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the one of the first bills that extended protection to individuals with disabilities access programs and information if there were Government funds involved and was especially aimed at guarantee disabled children equal access. Although vision impaired was not mention directly, law does effect vision impaired users in many situations.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, was a huge step forward for making equal access for all Americans with all types of disabilities the law. The greatest gains in access have been in the area of physical access to buildings and being able to have equal access to public places such as roads and sidewalks.

Title I of the ADA has very specific wording dealing with equal access for employment which when applied correctly and enforced will give visually challenged Americans much better access to employment opportunities.

Title 1 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Also under Title I an employer may not ask about an applicants disability before offering a applicant a position.

Currently, every company of any size, most state and federal agencies and most large institutions handle all their job recruitment through the Internet and almost none except some federal agencies make any accommodation for people individuals with vision impairment. When Title I is enforced and all these employment sites become accessible to the millions of vision challenges individuals, then employment opportunities should soar.

The current situation with almost all employment sites whether private or public is that any alternative way to access the job information is far from being equal and sometimes very discriminating.

Example almost of private companies only make their job offering available through their website. If a person calls about employment opportunity, he will be directed to the website, the only way to be connected to an alternative information sources is to announce that the announces his disability and then he is put through to a human or given an address to send a resume. This is no different than being asked about a disability before being offered a position. No disabled person wants to have to identify as disabled before the job application process begins.

To their credit most Federal employment sites have made an effort to support people who can not or do not have Internet access, but after reviewing these efforts, no one can compare them to using an employment website. It is difficult for normally sited individual to understand the frustration of comparing being able to read a list of job opportunities, being able to search by all sorts of criteria that the Internet allows and having to use a phone system to get this same information. www.usajob.opm.gov is a listing of all government jobs. By calling 1-479-757-3000 (a long-distance call for almost everyone), a person looking for a job can access that information by phone. Although it is well designed after trying it for a few minutes, it would be impossible to convince anyone using a phone to review over 13,000 jobs is anywhere equal to using the Internet. Being denied this Internet access just because the web page font is too small to read, makes the situation even more frustrating.

First federal legislation that actually mentioned vision impaired users specifically was Section 255 of Telecommunications Act of 1996 in referring to how vision impaired users are to be treated. Part 6.3 (1) (ii): Provide at least one mode that permits operation by users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200, without relying on audio output. (It is estimated that someone with 20/200 vision needs 24 — 32 point type on a web page). What many companies governed by the Telecommunications Act have overlooked is that this law covers not only telecommunication equipment but also as stated in Part 6.3 (2): (It covers) all information necessary to operate and use the product, including but not limited to, text, static or dynamic images, icons, labels, sounds, or incidental operating cues, comply with each of the following, assessed independently. What has happened since the bill was passed is that almost all of this covered information has been moved to the Internet exclusively.

The critical phrase in this law is that this content needed to be made available "without relying on audio". This was put into the bill specifically because many vision impaired users (especially the elderly) often don't hear well either.

The next significant legislation that came along that would significantly help the entire vision impaired community was the 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which became know as Section 508, which require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. Unfortunately, Section 508 does not increase " an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily" at all unless that user one of about 100,000 people who need a screen reader to access Internet content. There is no way that the over 10 million vision impaired US Citizens who only needs a larger type on a web page to use information are going to be served by needing to use a screen reader to access this information.

What Happened?

The Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards from the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board which were to be the guidelines of for Section 508 and were based on the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines became:

Section 1194.27 Functional Performance Criteria This section requires that a product's operation and information retrieval functions be operable through at least one mode which meets each of the following paragraphs.

"Paragraph (b) provides that at least one mode of operation and information retrieval that does not require visual acuity greater than 20/70 (when corrected with glasses) must be provided in audio and enlarged print output that works together or independently. In the alternative, support for assistive technology used by people who are visually impaired must be provided. Although visual acuity of 20/200 is considered "legally blind," there are actually millions of Americans with vision below the 20/200 threshold who can still see enough to operate and get output from technology, often with just a little additional boost in contrast or font size. This paragraph requires either the provision of screen enlargement and voice output or, that the product support assistive technology. This provision is consistent with the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines and the recommendations of the advisory committee''.

The change from making information available to people with vision impaired without using audio, to separating that hearing and vision impaired allowed the Access Board interpreted this mean that content only needed to available either audio or enlarged text. This allows websites to be 508 compliant without making enlarged text available. This decision was made by the Access Board even though the Telecommunication Act specifically require large type, without audio and even in the above guidelines state that many people considered legally blind could access content " technology, often with just a little additional boost in contrast or font size".

What is more interesting is that Access Board's Economic Assessment of these standards mention the benefit of making web sites with larger type as a benefit to other federal employees as well. (http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/assessment.htm)

5.2 Who is Likely to Experience Benefits From Standards?

Other individuals and entities are also likely to benefit from these standards:

* Federal employees who are not disabled, or do not consider themselves to have a disability, may benefit from increased usability of electronic and information technology associated with accessibility. For example, the ability to increase the size of text on a computer screen may be necessary to make the technology accessible to an individual with limited vision, but it can also provide benefits to an employee who is moderately farsighted or simply prefers larger text.

There is little question that as part of the economic assessment of 508, that the evaluators were anticipating that all Federal Web Sites would be available users needing larger type and that would improve all Federal employees working environment. This clearly considered a benefit of Section 508.

Even Section 508 includes:

Functional Performance Criteria (Subpart C)

The performance requirements of this section are intended for overall product evaluation and for technologies or components for which there is no specific requirement under the technical standards in Subpart B. These criteria are designed to ensure that the individual accessible components work together to create an accessible product. They cover operation, including input and control functions, operation of mechanical mechanisms, and access to visual and audible information. These provisions are structured to allow people with sensory or physical disabilities to locate, identify, and operate input, control and mechanical functions and to access the information provided, including text, static or dynamic images, icons, labels, sounds or incidental operating cues. For example, one provision requires that at least one mode allow operation by people with vision impaired (visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200) without relying on audio input since many people with vision impaired may also have a hearing loss.

Which would seem to mean that Internet content should be made accessible to this class of disabled uses depending on audio (as was intent in Telecommunications Act) until one realizes that this sections only applies to areas with no other specific requirements. After reading the specific requirements, which for websites basically means making web sites accessible to screen reader and the comprehensiveness the rest of the guidelines, it is hard to determine what technology falls under Functional Performance Criteria (Subpart C)

By not requiring federal websites to be available in enlarged fonts, the unfortunate consequence of this decision is that millions of vision impaired users who should be able have larger type on a web pages, are left with no real solution under 508. Although laudable, making all federal website accessible the 100,000 screen reader users, the 10 million plus users who need enlarged type have been short-changed.

The one guideline that 508 does make to vision impaired users is web pages must honor user-defined style sheets, which is a total ineffective way for vision impaired users who needs larger type. Even though styles sheets would certainly make 508 compliant pages usable, when a user goes to sites that did not honor user defined style sheets (which is the rest of the Internet), many pages immediately become completely unreadable and the user can become completely lost.

The reason that the requirement to make web site accessible to people needing larger type size probably was that when these rules were written it was impossible to make web sites accessible to vision impaired users -- without maintaining duplicate websites one for normal users and one or more for vision impaired. Policy makers felt the cost required to accomplish this would have been too high and, therefore an 'impediment' to 'reasonable' compliance.

Since this rules were created, Internet technology has developed to easily allow this kind of specialized access. Examples can be found at www.section508.gov and another at www.ionwebsyes.com, that allow the user to easily control the displayed type size on a web page.
Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines

Published in the Federal Register February 3, 1998.
http://www.access-board.gov/telecomm/html/telfinl2.htm

36 CFR Part 1193
RIN 3014-AA19

§ 1193.41 Input, control, and mechanical functions.
Input, control, and mechanical functions shall be locatable, identifiable, and operable in accordance with each of the following, assessed independently:

(a) Operable without vision. Provide at least one mode that does not require user vision.

(b) Operable with low vision and limited or no hearing. Provide at least one mode that permits operation by users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200, without relying on audio output.

(c) Operable with little or no color perception. Provide at least one mode that does not require user color perception.

(d) Operable without hearing. Provide at least one mode that does not require user auditory perception.

(e) Operable with limited manual dexterity. Provide at least one mode that does not require user fine motor control or simultaneous actions.

(f) Operable with limited reach and strength. Provide at least one mode that is operable with user limited reach and strength.

(g) Operable without time-dependent controls. Provide at least one mode that does not require a response time. Alternatively, a response time may be required if it can be by-passed or adjusted by the user over a wide range.

(h) Operable without speech. Provide at least one mode that does not require user speech.

(i) Operable with limited cognitive skills. Provide at least one mode that minimizes the cognitive, memory, language, and learning skills required of the user.

§ 1193.43 Output, display, and control functions.

All information necessary to operate and use the product, including but not limited to, text, static or dynamic images, icons, labels, sounds, or incidental operating cues, shall comply with each of the following, assessed independently:

(a) Availability of visual information. Provide visual information through at least one mode in auditory form.

(b) Availability of visual information for low vision users. Provide visual information through at least one mode to users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 without relying on audio.

(c) Access to moving text. Provide moving text in at least one static presentation mode at the option of the user.

(d) Availability of auditory information. Provide auditory information through at least one mode in visual form and, where appropriate, in tactile form.

(e) Availability of auditory information for people who are hard of hearing. Provide audio or acoustic information, including any auditory feedback tones that are important for the use of the product, through at least one mode in enhanced auditory fashion (i.e., increased amplification, increased signal-to-noise ratio, or combination). For transmitted voice signals, provide a gain adjustable up to a minimum of 20 dB. For incremental volume control, provide at least one intermediate step of 12 dB of gain.

(f) Prevention of visually-induced seizures. Visual displays and indicators shall minimize visual flicker that might induce seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.

(g) Availability of audio cutoff. Where a product delivers audio output through an external speaker, provide an industry standard connector for headphones or personal listening devices (e.g., phone-like handset or earcup) which cuts off the speaker(s) when used.

(h) Non-interference with hearing technologies. Reduce interference to hearing technologies (including hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices) to the lowest possible level that allows a user to utilize the product.

(i) Hearing aid coupling. Where a product delivers output by an audio transducer which is normally held up to the ear, provide a means for effective wireless coupling to hearing aids.


EXCERPT FROM: Telecommunications Access Advisory Committee (TAAC) Final Report
January 1997

Access to Telecommunications Equipment and Customer Premises Equipment by Individuals with Disabilities

5.3.1.2 (I-2). Operate with Low Vision without Requiring Audio.

Guideline: Where readily achievable, the product input, control and mechanical functions shall be fully operable via at least one mode by individuals who have low vision but are not legally blind, which does not rely on audio output.

Note: 20/70 after correction is the beginning of low vision; 20/200 after correction is the beginning of legal blindness; a field of vision of less than 20 degrees after correction also constitutes legal blindness.

Rationale: Individuals with severe visual disabilities often also have severe hearing disabilities (especially older users) and cannot rely on audio access modes commonly

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