ASTA comments on proposed web site accessibility ruling

ASTA has filed comments with the Department Transportation (DOT) in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at U.S. Airports,”which addresses the issue of making web sites accessible for people with disabilities. In its filing, ASTA supports the proposal that “small business”travel agencies, as defined by the Small Business Administration, be exempted from the technical requirements of the rule. ASTA noted that without the exemption, it “will be very costly and likely drive many travel agencies out of the Internet environment altogether,”which would ultimately not serve the interest of consumers. ASTA supports the policy trade-off proposed by DOT “allowing small business agencies to avoid the cost and disruption of web site rewrites, but requiring the offline provision”of providing any online-only offers to disabled travellers in the offline environment. ASTA also noted in its filing that the industry should be subjected to a single compliance regime. The organization referenced in its filing a similar rule-making from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and noted that while ASTA fully supports both the DOJ and DOT’s goal of “bringing web sites to a state of high accessibility by disabled persons as soon as feasible,”one of the two agencies should to take the lead and put forth a single, co-ordinated proposal for the travel industry’s review. (