School System to Make Websites and Software Accessible
Janice A. Bartleson, Ph.D., a blind counselor and emotional/behavioral disabilities clinician employed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) for more than twenty-seven years, has settled the lawsuit she filed against the school board last spring with the support of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. Bartleson brought the lawsuit because she was unable to use the school system’s websites, web forms, and software applications that were inaccessible to her.
A federal court has approved a consent decree requiring M-DCPS to make all existing websites, forms, and software accessible; to procure only accessible software in the future
Like other blind people, Dr. Bartleson accesses information on her computer using screen reader technology, which renders digital content as spoken words using synthesized speech or by displaying it on an attached refreshable Braille display. Improperly coded websites and software prevent screen readers from accurately verbalizing critical information, such as what information must be typed into an edit box on a form. Dr. Bartleson’s lawsuit alleged that she was forced to rely on irregular assistance from a sighted coworker to perform tasks as basic as inputting student progress notes and accessing her own
“Equal treatment and equal opportunity in the workplace also means full and equal access to technology,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Making on-the-fly accommodations after inaccessible technology is put in place is neither adequate nor lawful. The National Federation of the Blind
“This consent decree means a great deal to me personally, but it is also a critical step toward the creation of a level playing field for blind employees of M-DCPS,” said Dr. Bartleson. “I also hope and believe that it will lead to equal access for blind students of the school system and for blind parents with children attending school in Miami-Dade County.”
Dr. Bartleson is being represented with the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind by Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Chelsea Crawford, and Anthony May of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP, and by Matthew W. Dietz of Disability Independence Group, Inc. of Miami, Florida. For more on this case and other legal actions, projects, and investigations of the National Federation of the Blind, visit https://nfb.org/legal.