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Breaking News: Boca settles case of the disappearing online documents

If you couldn’t find public documents on the city web site, you’re not alone. The city had to take some down for legal reasons.

The case was settled today, Wednesday April 17. The suit was over documents that couldn’t be read by a screen reader. That’s assisted technology for people who are blind or visually impaired.

The city paid a fine but did not have to assume liability or wrongdoing. By March 31, 2020, the city has to ensure any PDF content published on the web site is fully accessible to people who are visually impaired.

With the settlement, the city will now prioritize making documents compliant, said city spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson. That includes financial, most used and documents people use to do business with the city.

The city’s web site is already accessible with alternate text, Gibson said. At issue were lengthy documents that were posted as PDF files.

The city has trained 48 staffers how to do this, she added. Now they’ll have to bring in outside contractors to help, there are so many documents at issue.

 

The suit was filed by Juan Carlos Gil claiming violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In November, the Palm Beach Post profiled Gil. At the time, the Post said he had filed 175 suits in south Florida “accusing government agencies, restaurants and stores of violating the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to take steps to assure that blind people can navigate their websites.”

The city agree to pay $13,750 as a settlement payment in full. But did not assume any wrongdoing.

“The Agreement is the result of a compromise and …shall never be construed as an admission of any liability, wrongdoing, responsibility or unlawful conduct,” the suit settlement says.

There are some exceptions to compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.0 Level A. Among them are documents that can’t technically be made compliment or are too cost-prohibitive to be made accessible.

By Marci Shatzman

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