CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Feb. 8, 2000
Internet sites may be subject to disability law
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Peter Blanck, University of Iowa College
of Law professor, will testify this week before a congressional subcommittee
that private Internet sites that offer goods and services intended for the
public may be subject to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Persons with vision, hearing or other disabilities
often do not receive the benefits that the medium provides, says Blanck, a
disability law specialist and director of the Disability Center at the UI
College of Law. Blanck will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on the Constitution, Wednesday, Feb. 9. The subcommittee hearings
come in the wake of a lawsuit by a group of blind individuals against America
Online, urging the Internet portal make its services more accessible to persons
with visual impairments.
Blanck states in his testimony that public accommodations
must provide people with disabilities opportunities to enjoy their goods and
services that are equal compared to the opportunities provided to others without
"A major goal of the ADA is to remove architectural
and communication barriers encountered by people with disabilities. Congress
was careful in drafting the ADA to balance the needs of people with disabilities
and the legitimate concerns of businesses," says Leonard Sandler, UI law professor
and co-director of the Center.
As e-commerce markets and initiatives for goods and
services expand, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, and employers are responding
to meet the needs of consumers with disabilities, those who may become disabled
in the future, and the elderly, Blanck says.