[Nfbnet-members-list] Seattle Times: Blind Parent Wins Battle for Access to Online Seattle School Resources

Danielsen, Chris CDanielsen at nfb.org
Thu Sep 24 15:50:25 UTC 2015

Blind Parent Wins Battle for Access to Online Seattle School Resources
Originally published September 23, 2015 at 5:14 
pm Updated September 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm
Seattle Public Schools will hire an accessibility 
coordinator as part of a consent decree between 
the district and a blind parent of a Seattle student.
By <http://www.seattletimes.com/author/paige-cornwell/>Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle Public Schools will make its website and 
other online resources more accessible to blind 
students, faculty members and parents as part of 
an agreement tied to a lawsuit filed by a blind parent last year.
The Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to enter 
into a consent decree to settle the lawsuit, 
which alleges the district’s websites and an 
online math program weren’t accessible to those 
who are blind. The lawsuit was filed by Noel 
Nightingale, a blind parent of a Seattle student, 
and the National Federation of the Blind.
Under the agreement, the district will make its 
current websites accessible, hire an 
accessibility coordinator and create a website 
portal to help faculty and staff communicate 
effectively with people with disabilities.
The district estimates it will cost from $665,440 
to $815,400 to implement the 3½-year decree. That 
includes funds to pay for an accessibility 
coordinator, staff training and attorney fees. 
Nightingale will receive $5,000 from the district for monetary relief.
Nightingale notified the district that its 
websites weren’t accessible in 2012. She said she 
had been able to use the website with a “screen 
reader,” which allows websites, documents and 
applications to be read aloud or displayed in 
Braille on another device. Changes to the website 
in 2012 made the site incompatible with the technology she used.
The district said it relayed the information to 
its website provider, which didn’t fix the 
problem. It alleges the provider breached its 
agreement by failing to provide a website 
compliant with the standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Nightingale sued the district in August 2014, 
alleging discrimination. Her lawyers said cheap, 
available programs were available to make the site compatible.
The agreement to settle the case is subject to 
the approval of the U.S. District Court for Western Washington.
Nightingale and the National Federation of the 
Blind applauded the board’s vote, which they called historic and comprehensive.
“This landmark agreement with the Seattle Public 
Schools should serve as a model for the nation 
and should put school districts on notice that we 
can no longer wait to have equal education for 
blind students and to have access to information, 
use of school services, and full participation in 
school activities by blind faculty, personnel, 
and parents,” federation President Mark Riccobono said in a statement.
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