eCourt, Lawyers with Disabilities, and the ADA

In October of 2014, the PLF added At the Corner of Law Practice and Disability to its collection of CLEs available on the PLF website.

This program discusses EEOC and ADA requirements; work at home/telework as a reasonable accommodation; practical ways a small firm can accommodate an attorney with disabilities; ethical concerns and best practices for lawyers who have an unplanned medical emergency; resources for attorneys with disabilities; and social security disability.  Speakers included Amber Bevacqua-Lynott, Cheryl Caon, Melissa Kenney, Kendra Matthews, Lisa Porter, Helle Rode, and Camilla Thurmond with special content provided by Alice Plymell.

Kudos to Oregon Women Lawyers for sponsoring this CLE.  It raised awareness, offered concrete resources, and generated some interesting questions.  Here is one that occurred to me:

What happens at the Corner of Disability and Mandatory eCourt?

Consider this scenario:  Lawyer A is visually impaired.  Using an interactive website, such as Oregon’s Odyssey eFile & Serve eCourt System, is difficult if not impossible.  What can (or should) Lawyer A do?

First Order Issues

It does not appear that the eFile & Serve website can be used by impaired users. Searching “Self-Service Support” on the Odyssey eFile & Serve website produces this less-than-clear result:

Article #4263 Does your website work with accessibility programs for impaired users? – KB4263.  In general, an information technology system is accessible to people with disabilities if it can be used in a variety of ways that do not depend on a single sense or ability. For example, a system that provides output only in audio format would not be accessible to people with hearing impairments, and a system that requires mouse actions to navigate would not be accessible to people who cannot use a mouse because of a dexterity or visual impairment. Section 508 focuses on the overall accessibility of electronic and information systems, not on providing accommodations at individual worksites. Individuals with disabilities may still need specific accessibility-related software or peripheral devices to be able to use an accessible system.

Can other technology, like a screen reader, come to the rescue?  Not really. Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. They can be free, but may also cost upwards of $1200.
Screen readers are a help to users who have difficulty seeing content on a Web page, but they are not usually a good solution for interactive sites with fill-in fields and pick-lists.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]


1 thought on “eCourt, Lawyers with Disabilities, and the ADA

  1. Pingback: The Year in Review – Top Posts in 2015 | Oregon Law Practice Management

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