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The Legal Right to Access the Internet with Braille

NC ADA Accessible Attorneys

January is Braille Literacy Month in commemoration of Louis Braille, who created the Braille code on January 4, 1809. Braille developed into two forms, or grades. Grade 1 Braille uses a six-celled symbol to represent each letter of the alphabet. Grade 2 Braille uses these symbols to represent common contractions—such as “ing,” “er,” or “th.” Grade 2 Braille can be read as rapidly as print and is widely used by blind individuals in schools and the workplace.

There have been laws requiring blind children to be taught Braille in public schools since the early ‘70s, but with the increased reliance on computers in the classroom and the workplace software programs were created to use Braille digitally. There was a legislative push for the widespread usage of digital Braille with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. This allowed blind individuals to access the internet using digital Braille displays that could be connected to computers, tablets, and smart phones through Bluetooth.

A digital Braille display is slightly larger than the average cell phone and can be purchased by blind users through grants from the federal government. Braille displays are used to read emails for work, shop for products on Amazon, or share messages on Twitter. Every iPhone can be connected to a Braille display as soon as it’s taken out of the box due to the passage of the ADA.

However, software for internet websites must meet ADA accessibility standards for these Braille displays to function. While many websites are easily accessible, others have lagged behind and could have legal exposure under Title III of the ADA. In fact, the number of internet accessibility cases has steadily increased as of 2018. While it is unfortunate that many websites are not fully accessible as of this time, it is often the case that mobile sites are accessible – since mobile sites tend to use code that is simpler and easier for accessibility tools to access. If you find that you are unable to appropriately access a site, you might try accessing the site using a mobile browser.

If you or someone you know has been unable to access a website with a Braille display or other assistive software such as a screen reader, then you could have a claim under the Title III of the ADA. Violation of Title III is a complex legal issue that requires the assistance of experienced counsel. Contact our office to speak with a North Carolina ADA accessibility attorney if you believe you have a Title III claim due to an inaccessible website.

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