In hopes of bringing more awareness to the importance of digital inclusive design in the government procurement sector, we are pleased to share this press release, announcing a precedential settlement of one of our impact cases involving the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s camping reservations website.
We hope that this public settlement, which requires the defendants who developed the website to fix the access barriers on the website and pay over $2 million in damages and attorneys’ fees, sends a strong message to the website development community. This situation likely could have been avoided if even the most basic degree of manual testing by people with disabilities using assistive technology had been conducted in the early stages of system functional testing by the contractors. Given the cost of litigation, it is always more cost effective to ensure the technology meets accessibility requirements at the earliest possible stage and then again throughout the development cycles prior to launch.
Fraud cases such as this one have the potential to result in jury verdicts of tens of millions of dollars in damages. TRE Legal is interested in consulting with anyone who has whistleblower evidence of potential accessibility fraud on the government. Many website developers, user experience testers, compliance officers, accountants and others working for large technology contractors may be aware of such situations in which the contractor is falsely claiming that the technology meets mandatory accessibility requirements so that it can be paid by the government. Confidential consultations are available.
Above all, we are pleased that the website in this case will be brought into compliance. The plaintiff and fraud whistleblower, Bryan Bashin, and other blind campers will finally be able to reserve campsites in California’s many state parks on an equal footing with other campers. This outcome vindicates the rights of blind Californians to access state agency websites, which increasingly function as the primary portals to important state programs and benefits.
Bryan Bashin is a longstanding member of the National Federation of the Blind. This case likely would not have happened without the NFB’s network of blind advocates and thought leaders working in the digital access space.
The Supporting Declaration of Timothy Elder and the Settlement Agreement are public documents. In addition, anyone interested in a deeper dive into the facts of the case may want to read the summary judgment briefing.