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    And here’s an example of a physical Winn-Dixie location discriminating against blind customers in 1998:


    Dr. Jernigan announced to the Board that someone at the Winn-Dixie supermarket nearest the convention hotel had called hotel management and warned them not to send over any more blind people. Dr. Jernigan commented that some response was required, and President Maurer appointed a committee composed of Charlie Brown and Peggy Elliott, both of whom are attorneys, to contact the store manager and resolve the situation and educate store staff about the law.

    I wonder what blind people ever did to Winn-Dixie?

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      Flustered the employees and killed throughput to the point that they were losing quite a bit of sales, presumably. Having the occasional customer who needs special accommodation is something any store is prepared to deal with; having a thousand of them drop in next door, and the hotel concierge directing everyone who needs groceries your way (in a pre-“just check your phone” culture), is a crisis that I doubt anyone is ready for.

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        Hence why the ADA exists, because as a society (well insofar as the federal gov’t representing the will of the people) we want to say “we should provide reasonable accomodations for people with disabilities, even though it’s not in a business’ interests to do so”.

        I think a lot of people try to make some hand-wavy “untapped market” thing but really it’s about treating people with at least a bit of dignity, cuz markets aren’t going to just solve that. And even in the 98 story it at least ended with some resolution, with the store manager saying they’ll try to accommodate.

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          Sure. But nobody in this story had any reason to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation, and it hasn’t been made apparent that anyone did. It’s a story, and people like stories better when they have villains in them, but real life rarely operates that way.

          It’s worth noting that what the law actually requires in that department is whatever “is able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense” considering “the effect on expenses and resources” and “the impact upon the operation of the facility”.

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          Here is a bit of an unfair comparison, and I do see the problems with it. But let’s suppose as a thought experiment, that instead of a convention of blind people, it was a convention of $ethnicity who is often negatively stereotyped as having a propensity for shoplifting? What would be the response to a store manager saying, “Please don’t send any more $ethnicity people”? Realize this was a large chain supermarket in a huge metro area, Dallas Fort Worth, in Texas in the US. Might they have other options than immediately resorting to discrimination?

          Assuming it was just a throughput problem also assumes they were acting in some degree of good faith. I’m not sure they were. I was actually at the convention in question – the only such event I’ve ever attended – but I don’t recall the details of the incident. That was many years ago.

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            There’s not much reason to assume bad faith — what possible motive? As you said in the first place, what did blind people ever do to them? An explanation that involves ordinary (slightly stupid) people acting in ordinary (slightly stupid) ways is almost always the correct one.

            In fact I’ll go a little bit further in defense of the imaginary ordinary person and suggest that what they meant to ask (and perhaps even what they did ask — remember, we only have a third-hand report, and not an unbiased one) was “could you please not send us all of the blind people?” In other words, a little load-balancing would have been beneficial.

            I would take offense if they were turning people away at the door, but in my universe (not necessarily the one where the US Code applies) it’s fair enough for people to talk, and cooperate, without threats or violence. To construe the phone call as a wrong worthy of legal notice requires one to view people as basically helpless blobs in the hands of unfathomable “corporate” powers, while at the same time viewing an underpaid supermarket manager as being one of those unfathomable powers. I don’t believe either one.

            As for your unfair example, yeah, it’s a bit too unfair to work. Not only because the behavior would be stupid (a stereotype is not a good basis for much of anything), but because shoplifting is, in fact, a crime (and a very common one), so dealing with it falls within a well-defined paradigm. Being blind is definitively not a crime, so the response has to be different.

            So again, let’s go back to this manager, who’s thinking “okay, we weren’t prepared for this, what can I do? I don’t have authority to call more employees in, and anyway, I would have to pay them if I did, and that’s not in the budget. I definitely can’t throw all the blind people out. I guess we can just ride it out, and the regional manager will probably understand and not fire me, but it would be better for me if I could at least say that I tried something. Someone in front-end told me that they’re all coming from this conference at the Hyatt and the front desk is sending them here. Maybe I can call the Hyatt and ask them to send people somewhere else for a little while.” Violà.

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        And with all the money spent on lawyers they could have made 6 accessible websites and still have enough money left for one hell of an launching party.

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          That’s probably not so much money if you compare it to the precedent it creates and the number of websites that won’t need to be built this way (which in our current industry is an added cost).

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            Making an accessible website shouldn’t an added cost; it isn’t actually that difficult to do…

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              Easy if you know how & you do it right the first time.

              If you get it wrong the first time, fixing it can easily cost nearly as much as building the site again.

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                It is an additional cost, in the same way that adding any additional requirements is an added cost. Maybe you mean that it should be cheap to do?

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                  I definitely agree that it shouldn’t be.

                  Today, if you’re a business asking another company to build your website, this is usually an « option », which has an added cost.

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              I’m not a fan of such laws. They make it impossible for e.g. small car repair shop to make website by themselves, for example in Microsoft Word. Even if they buy making of website from professionals: one misplaced ARIA tag and you get huge fine, having websites became dangerous.

              What these car repair shops, cafes and bodegas will do? They will make account in Instagram instead of website. This is much worse for people with disabilities than static website made in Word. Lots of text will be in jpegs.

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                I am torn about this sort of thing myself, and I’m a blind person. I mean, all laws come with an implicit threat of punishment for noncompliance. Right action done in order to comply with the law is coersed, not voluntary, and I have a problem with that. But lobsters isn’t a place for that kind of philosophical discussion.

                I do believe that laws should apply differently based on the size of an organization. We’re talking about a large regional chain here, not a local small business.