Oracle sued by blind workers in Texas

Hat tip to Joe Dolson for bringing this one to light.

The National Federation of the Blind and three blind State of Texas employees filed a lawsuit this week against Oracle and the State of Texas. The suit claims that they were not provided adequate access to software used in their employment functions. Despite a state law and guidelines requiring accessible software and after several complaints and requests for a remedy, the State of Texas and Oracle did not take adequate measures to provide screen reader access to the Oracle software that is required in the plaintiff’s employment.

This lawsuit is somewhat different from the Target lawsuit. This case focuses on the accessibility of software, not specifically web content. However, it may provide a test of state accessibility legislation that requires “the same access to electronic and information resources as state employees and members of the public without disabilities.” It is interesting that both parties of the State of Texas and Oracle are named in the suit. This may suggest that Oracle overstated it’s accessibility and that the state did not adequately meet it’s own internal policies in the state procurement process.

Comments

  1. Shri

    Thanks for the blog entry.
    certainly accessibility of software products/applications is very important.
    At times Inaccessibility of software applications is a blocking stone for disable users at their work.
    Adequate care needs to be taken while coding any app so that employers can put even disable employees to work on them.
    Are there any guidelines/standards pertaining the same?
    Thanks.

  2. Chris McKee

    I’m all for accessibility and am well aware that legal force is the only way to make some companies act on the matter. But these cases should end with the company being given a time limit to enforce the changes required. I don’t believe there are any circumstances where a person should be able to sue a company for non-DDA compliance in order to gain financial compensation.

    It seems to easy for the American sue happy culture to undermine the importance of accessibility in order to gain quick cold cash. I’d much rather companies complied through fear of the legal repercussions, then people simply becoming compliant to avoid some idiot suing to line their own pockets.

  3. Butch Mcgarry

    How dare anyone think this is a money grab! TX and Oracle have been given ample time to make some chnges to allow blind people to work on an equal footing this is our only recourse. Our pleas for redress have been ignored. Could any sighted person work without a monitor? that is what has been happening to blind workers for decades

  4. George Vargas

    It just fries me as legally blind person who does not have an equal to obtain a job.
    It also floors me on how stupid non disabled people can be, But let me tell you from my
    experience, people that were non disabled then suddenly find themselves in my boat
    oh things are very different then and only then are they empathetic, people need to
    realize that we are not mentally disabled just because we are legally blind, maybe non
    disabled people really are disabled too. They don’t have
    two brain cells to rub together and spark a sensable thought. Life goes on.

  5. Manny

    I have a large amount of experience, as an IT professional, working with products from large software companies (including Oracle) and I can quite confidently state that if they are not forced to change their product, it will never happen.
    A lawsuit is the only way.

  6. Chris M

    I’ll just reiterate the point I was making. I was saying that I agree that a law suit may be the only way to force change, and that fines maybe a good solution to force a company to make changes.
    But allowing the people who filed the charges to profit from the endevour seems to take away from the challenge.
    Its hard to then separate the original aims of the person who filed the case; as was it to gain money or to be given fair access to software required for their work.

  7. Cynthia Jones

    It is sad that people have to resort to legal battles that are costly for all involved to respect the fact that blind individuals are equally entitled to work, live, and enjoy as much of life as possible. Chris implied that blind people sue to reap financial gain? This may not be the case and was taken a very offensive remark. How many business owners have taken the time to go through their office, work environment, home, club, a local resturant or try and take a shuttle, cab, bus and move about without their personal vehicles? How many have relied on others to complete task for them or are they totally independent?

    The average cost to educatate and rehibilitate a person who has lost their site can become increasingly costly. Take my personal computer system, as a blind person the total assembly cost more than $15,000 to be able to gain accessiblity. A single piece of software converting text to speech ranges from $900 to over $1000 and does not include recurring upgrades. Annual expenses for an assistant or a driver can exceed $12,000 dollars(part-time) and often employers want to pay no more than minimum wage. Would you work for minimum wage if you were capable of earning more, simply because you had a missing limb or had to make use of a wheel chair? All said and done, employers fail to recognize that unemployment among blind adult workers in the US exceeds 79% in comparison to US unemployment rate for workers that are not blind or disabled. Never the less cost of living is no less and often greater than the norm for individuals without disabilites.

    I simply say that before one is so quick to judge the blind for figting for equal accessibility they should take a bit time and live in their world before passing judgement. I am blind, and have been out of work for more than 5 years because of the unyeilding attitudes of employers.

    “Thou shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear thy God: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:14 (King James Version)

  8. Shazia Shamim

    Excellent post accessibility is one of the most important issue for all the disabled people and for blind people its a biggest hell in the presence of internet.

    People are doing lot and we sill not to develop more intelligent software who help people to work with disabled on internet..

  9. Peter Wallack

    What most blogs have failed to pick up on is that Oracle was dismissed from the Texas lawsuit in February of this year. Subsequent to that, Oracle and the NFB announced a collaboration at the NFB national convention in Dallas, to develop a Center of Excellence for Enterprise Accessibility at the Jernigan Institute. We invite all to attend the Oracle Open World session on Thursday September 25th in San Francisco, ‘Enterprise Accessibility: Meeting Legal, Business, and Ethical Needs with the Help of the National Federation of the Blind’, co-presented by Oracle and the NFB. Information about attending Oracle Open World is available at http://www.oracle.com/openworld. Registration includes special options for bloggers.

  10. Chauncey

    On installation, the Oracle Enterprise Manager Database Console starts with accessibility mode disables. This expected and it is the default mode. To turn on the accessibility for disabled users, you have to modify the uix-config.xml configuration file using a text editor. Change the default configuration for default configuration, from inaccessible to accessible. Detailed information may be found at download.oracle.com/docs/cd/B14099_19/manage.1012/b16242/structure.htm

  11. Chauncey

    Sorry, in my entry above “accessibility mode disables” should read “accessibility mode disabled”