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Sony The Courts Games Your Rights Online

Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony 550

An anonymous reader writes "A visually impaired gamer has sued Sony because game products allegedly violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. 'According to the suit, Sony ignored repeated requests through postal mail and e-mail to come up with reasonable modifications to its games to make them more accessible.' This suit seems to be a combination of National Federation of the Blind v. Target, which complained of inaccessibility to the visually disabled (which settled for $6 million) and Martin v. PGA Tour, Inc., where the US Supreme Court ruled a disabled golfer was entitled to a golf cart where one was not already allowed as a reasonable accommodation. If the plaintiff wins, Sony will have to make 'reasonable accommodations' which are not an 'undue financial burden.' In my humble opinion, providing access for the disabled is not only the right thing to do but it will generate more profit for Sony."
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Visually Impaired Gamer Sues Sony

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  • by utahjazz ( 177190 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:02PM (#30015438)

    Amusement parks are "entertainment, no more," and they're governed by the ADA as well.

    Amusement parks are covered by the ADA because they are commercial facilities.

    The ADA specifies 5 covered entities. Tell me which if these is a video game:

    * Employment: no
    * Public Entity: no
    * Public Transportation: no
    * Public Accommodation: no
    * Commercial Facility: no (virtual doesn't count)
    * Telecommunication: That's as close as you're going to get, but I'm going to go with 'no' on this as well.

    A video game is not a commercial facility, nor is it employment, public facility, public transportation, or telecommunication.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:05PM (#30015464) Homepage

    AOL settled with the National Organization for the Blind on that one, agreeing to make their client more "accessible". That was in 2000, when AOL's web client mattered.

    Target settled their online ADA lawsuit in 2008 [usefularts.us]. But that was related to Target's having physical stores subject to the ADA, and the web site being related to the stores.

    The ADA only applies to "commercial speech", where the intent is to sell. In the US, the First Amendment preempts the ADA for non-commercial speech by non-government parties. It would be "forced speech" [bu.edu], prohibited by the First Amendment, to require "accessible content" for non-commerce web sites and for content delivered through non-monopoly-regulated channels.

    Games aren't usually "commercial speech".

  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:25PM (#30015634)

    So is every business covered by the ADA. Keep in mind that, according the article, we're talking about MMORPGs, which are just as much a service as websites, which have already been held to be subject to the ADA.

  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @02:34PM (#30015728) Homepage

    In the British Museum, there's a notice saying something along the lines of "Do not touch these exhibits, unless you're on the blind tour"

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @03:09PM (#30016052) Journal

    There's a point where it's just being stupid to be pissed that you can't enjoy a visual medium if you're blind.

    I know that people don't read the articles, but I'll write this in bold and in caps so you can read it, since both you and the person doing the suing seem to have something in commoon: LOOK AT THE TITLE OF THE SUMMARY - VISUALLY IMPAIRED GAMER SUES SONY

    He's not blind. However, without seeing the communications he's had with Sony, there's no way to know if what he's asking is reasonable, or if the onus should be on him to acquire equipment that overcomes his visual problems.

    Or he can just download pr0n until he goes blind, and then we can have this discussion again :-)

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @03:11PM (#30016058)

    So, if YOU were Sony, you think that YOU should do so.

    But do you think that the law should tell Sony what they SHOULD do?

    The point of what I'm talking about is the vague wording of the ADA and how it has led to tons of litigious shakedowns for cash. Because of the vague wording, people whos think that a company should be obliged to do something are enabled to legally FORCE these things (and get paid), despite the topic at hand having almost nothing to do with the true intent of the ADA which is to facilitate fair public access.

    If you want Sony to spend the extra money, why don't you and others raise the money and fund the work? In this specific topic, it is unreasonable to FORCE sony to spend even one cent on this conceptual product. They don't owe you a game for the blind, and just because someone else isn't doing it, doesn't make it ok to try and force them to. THEY DON'T OWE YOU A GAME FOR THE BLIND.

    If I have an anxiety disorder, but I want to play violent video games and not get anxiety, do they owe me some specially developed FPS that won't trigger anxiety? No. The if the game doesn't do what I want, I don't buy it. And if I really want a certain kind of game that people aren't making yet, then maybe I should start it with my own work and ingenuity.

  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:07PM (#30016408)

    No, I also mean accessibility to invitees, like people allowed on to the property to conduct business. "Public accommodation" does not mean a "publicly funded and provided accommodation," it means a place that is generally open to the public. The EEOC provides guidance listing such places to include "restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers."

    If MMORPGs are considered a public accommodation (as a "place of amusement"), then SOE would be responsible for making reasonable accommodations for the disabled in providing their service.

  • Re:This is pathetic (Score:3, Informative)

    by klparrot ( 549422 ) <klparrotNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:18PM (#30016470)

    This got me think though, are there theaters that play movies with subtitles for the hearing impaired? I could see profit from that.

    Yep, a lot of theatres do now. Read about the Rear Window Captioning System [wikipedia.org]. You may have watched a movie with it without even realizing.

  • Re:Controller Mod? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stuart Gibson ( 544632 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:58PM (#30016710) Homepage

    Don't most big companies have a policy of ignoring any letters that are suggestions, to stop people suing the company for royalties if they implement a similar idea?

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:41PM (#30016988)

    Actually, all art museums I have been to do have guided audio tours for the blind...

  • by GringoChapin ( 1663533 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:11PM (#30017904)
    Check YouTube for videos on "screen readers". You can see the couple I've done at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmUPhEVWu_E [youtube.com] In short the web page is linearized, and read one line at a time by my screen reader. If there is a link for replying, my screen reader will say "link reply". It also tells me about tables, headings, ETC.
  • by REALMAN ( 218538 ) <realman2@inbox.com> on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:06AM (#30019734) Homepage

    The Americans with Disabilities Act only applies to PLACES of Public Accommodation. Physical places like a store or a workplace or a concert hall etc...

    Products are not covered.

  • Um, no. (Score:3, Informative)

    by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @03:41AM (#30019816)
    the Target case is completely different, and I don't think it applies here. And the Martin v. PGA case relates to employment, and appears to be completely irrelevant to video games intended for home use. Sorry, you don't have a legal right to play video games in an ideal manner. What's next, suing Ford an Toyota because their speedometers can not easily be read by the visually impaired? Suing the MPAA (not that I'm opposed to that)? I am not able to derive optimal enjoyment from most of Sony's crap, er, leisure products either, so I buy other things instead, rather than suing them to make what I want. Geepers creepers.
  • It's actually got a point.

    The main issue appears to be Everquest and the other MMOs they make. These games do not feature reasonable accomodation for visually impaired users. There is only so far you can accomodate visually impaired people in a visual medium, but it's good to go as far as you can without damaging the experience for those with normal vision.

    The lawsuit refers to World of Warcraft and some other games to show that such accomodation is in fact possible in an online video game context at a reasonable cost.

    I'm not sure the ADA actually applies to online games, but if they can convince the court that it does, they seem to have a solid argument for trial.

  • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @12:50PM (#30022852)

    I didn't have time to go into detail, but, for example, she sued a place because the soap dispenser was high (when she is in her wheelchair) enough that soap would run down her wrist. She complained that this made her feel embarrassed and mistreated. Note that in an interview she has discussed her injuries, which do not require a wheelchair, and she claims she only uses a wheelchair when she feels she needs to.

    Note also that in most cases the businesses settle out of court. In this case they paid her something like $25k and went out of business.

    To me, you just need to figure out a way to cup the soap... But that's just me.

    The specific person I'm talking about is ridiculous. This is how she gets paid, and so finding things like 'soap running down wrist' is what must be done to keep the income flowing.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.