JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Blind Navy veteran Joel Price has filed more than 120 lawsuits against city and county governments and businesses, saying their websites aren’t accessible to the visually impaired.
That’s because those websites don’t work with screen reader programs.
Some local governments have already settled and spent tens of thousands of tax dollars to make the changes.
Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind Assistant Technology Coordinator Patrick Turnage relies on screen reader programs to access information online.
“It really is disappointing when you see websites that are not accessible, just because there is so much out there already about what you can do to make your website accessible,” Turnage said. “It’s important so that blind people are not left out or they lack access to vital information, because so much is communicated through the web.”
Price's lawsuits include Jacksonville Beach, Putnam, Nassau, St. Johns and Clay counties.
Putnam and St. Johns counties have settled.
St. Johns County spokesperson Michael Ryan said the county has already made changes to its website.
“It is coming at a significant cost to the taxpayer, but sometimes, it’s just the right thing to do,” Ryan said.
Action News Jax reported in February that St. Johns County was also one of more than 50 local governments in Florida sued for failing to provide closed captioning for videos of meetings posted online, violating the constitutional rights of people who are deaf.
Since then, St. Johns County settled both lawsuits for about $20,000, according to Ryan.
He said accessibility improvements to the county’s website cost about $50,000 up front and will continue to cost about $20,000 every year.
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