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21 Behav. Sci. & L. 1 (2003)

handle is hein.journals/bsclw21 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Behavioral Sciences and the Law
Behav. Sci. Law 21: 1 3 (2003)
Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/bsl.523


                       Introduction to this issue:


                       Disability, Public Policy, and

                       Technology



The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 launched a new era for
individuals with disabilities. This law, considered by many to be the Civil Rights
Act for people with disabilities, prohibits employment discrimination and generally
requires equal access for individuals with disabilities (O'Day, Schartz, & Blanck,
2002).
   The prior special issue, 20(6), of Behavioral Sciences and the Law examined the
barriers facing persons with disabilities in achieving employment integration, self-
sufficiency, and economic independence. This special sub-issue examines a com-
plementary topic, the emerging and central importance of accessible technology and
Internet access to integrated employment and independence for individuals with
disabilities.
   American society has changed dramatically in the 13 years since the passage of the
ADA. People are more dependent on computers and technology for information,
employment, education, support, and recreation. Every day, millions ofpeople use the
Internet. From their homes, offices or even cafes, people research, purchase products,
search for jobs, participate in distance learning, and contact friends and family.
   The articles in this special sub-issue highlight the central importance of accessible
technology, the Internet, and computers to the daily lives of persons with disabilities
and to evolving disability policy and law. Individuals with hearing impairments or
who are blind do not need interpreters or aids to do business on accessible Internet
sites. Individuals who use wheelchairs and walkers do not have to worry about
whether there are ramps and elevators to shop online.
   Yet, individuals with disabilities are far less likely than individuals without
disabilities to own computers at home or to access the Internet (see Kaye, 2002).
Even with access to computers, many individuals with disabilities, such as those with
sensory or motor skill disabilities, require assistive technology or special computer
software and hardware to access the Internet.
   Despite the progress in making society more accessible in the years since the
passage of the ADA with the elimination of many physical barriers in streets,
buildings, and public transportation, the Internet community remains inaccessible
for many individuals with disabilities. Internet accommodation takes a variety of
forms. For some individuals, accessibility may include adequate color contrast, the
ability to identify images on the screen, or features that allow the print to be
enlarged.
   Many web sites do not have the essential features necessary for individuals with
disabilities to effectively use the web site despite the user's assistive hardware or
software. A recent study of federal websites after implementation of Section 508 of


Copyright c 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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