The case of Payan vs. LACCD appears to have come to a good resolution or at least a detente for now.
While mediation is a much better solution than for the LACCD to put many disabilities rights in educational and professional venues in jeopardy, there remains much work to be done. After all, as the article discusses, Portia Mason has remained a student in the LACCD and has had to drop a further course because of the material’s inaccessibility. As such, we who advocate on behalf of the blindness community will press forward to get the web accessibility act to be discussed at this year’s American Council of the Blind’s DC seminar (March 11-15) sponsors in Congress to make it a bill and then into law. AFter all, the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act do mandate colleges to make their material to be consumed by all students, regardless of their disability or nondisability status. Enforcement of the provisions in these acts by the Department of Justice will not create any favoritism or extraneous entitlement. Rather, they will build on what’s already been proven time and again-namely, that people who are blind, deaf, autistic, paraplegic, et al belong in our nation’s schools and workforce.
This really is a bipartisan social issue from a political standpoint since our elected representatives do well to take a pro-growth approach to increasing employment opportunities for everyone. Cases like Payan vs. LACCD ought not be used for one side to best another in the realm of policy debate or discussion but are examples from which we can learn how all venues of life connect. You can’t just adopt disability rights for education which are separate from the workplace or home. Since technologies overlap between these venues, especially seen since the era of COVID drove many of our schools and jobs online, how someone learns in one place reflects in how he/she performs when serving his/her neighbors in another. Besides this, equal opportunity for entrepreneurial and confidence-building success will only bolster our nation’s economic health with the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Furthermore, the heretofore outcome of Payan vs. LACCD demonstrates that ableism-the belief that those who see themselves more capable than another-should call the educational or professional shots For people with disabilities-causes friction rather than cooperation when resolving web accessibility matters. People with disabilities need to be involved in the decision-making process regarding the mode, platform, and delivery of online media rather than seen as just recipients waiting for others to act.
Will the mediation which LACCD has undertaken with Payan and Mason further emphasize this truth? We will certainly be able to see such progress through more endeavors to make web accessibility open to everyone at home, at school, and at work.