Boston Linux & UNIX was originally founded in 1994 as part of The Boston Computer Society. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Building E51.

Web Service Accessibility: Disability Law and Public Duties

Date and Time

Wednesday, May 20, 1998 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm


MIT Building 3-133


Lar Kaufman - lark walden com


Making Linux accessible to the disabled


Lar Kaufman's presentation will discuss duties of WWW service and content providers using facilities accessible to the public under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant US statutes to provide reasonable accomodation for disabled individuals to internet services and information.

Those using the internet as a public facility in commerce, or benefiting from public funded research or facilities have a duty to make their services and published intellectual properties reasonably available to all users. But doing so is beneficial to all internet users and service providers, not just the disabled user.

WWW technologies and Web administration practices that create access barriers for disabled users include denial of text-based navigation aids, content framing, and exclusive use of proprietary data formats. These practices and simple solutions (reasonable accommodation) are discussed. Some tools and techniques for extracting information “trapped” in proprietary formats for your personal and fair use is also discussed.

The costs of proprietary data file formats to all users of public resources will be discussed, and include bandwidth overhead of graphics transmissions and the concealment of information from limited “knowbot” search utilities, thus making data less accessible to all. Time permitting, current lack of enforcement, software developer practices, monopoly and other economic pressures will be examined, and ethical and philosophical considerations discussed.

Lar Kaufman is a documentation consultant with some 17 years experience in computer and network documentation, a law student at Boston University School of Law, and co-author of Running Linux, 2nd Ed. 1996, O'Reilly & Assoc.


Lar Kaufman is a graduate of Boston University Law School, living in Concord, Massachusetts a few miles from Walden Pond. He has worked as a documentation consultant for many years, and began writing about UNIX in 1983. Since then, he has written on System V, BSD, Mach, OSF/1, and Linux.

His hobbies include interactive media as art/literature, homebuilt and antique aircraft (he's a licensed aircraft mechanic), and natural history. Formerly a BBS operator, in 1987 Lar founded the Fidonet echoes (newsgroups) Biosphere and BioNews.

He is currently working on a project to develop a media lab incorporating adaptive technology for print-disabled use through the law library where he studies. The lab will use a Linux server and provide user services on Windows NT, Macintosh, and Linux systems.


  1. Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation: WebABLE

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