You’ll remember from our 2016 Wrap-Up that we were eagerly spruiking Friend of DGI, Lainey Feingold’s then new book, Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, which at the time had been recently published by the American Bar Association (ABA).
We can finally reveal just why it was that our little organisation was promoting this book by the renowned U.S. disability civil rights lawyer so enthusiastically.
Through the usual rigour of our forensic research in the area of digital inaccessibility – DGI after all being the CSI of digital access crimes – we had initially learned that disability rights advocates in the US had, like us, been similarly pushing to make the digital world accessible to everyone. Their work, however, had led to more immediate outcomes than had occurred to date in Australia, including many more talking ATMs, accessible websites and mobile apps, talking prescription labels, accessible pedestrian signals, audio description and accessible health care and financial information. What we learned again and again through the above advancements is how many had significantly benefited from an approach pioneered and developed by Lainey through her twenty plus years’ experience representing blind people and their organisations across the US. This approach came to be known as Structured Negotiation.
When looking for a high-profile personality to open our inaugural World Usability Day event at Parliament House, Canberra in November, 2015, we reached out to Lainey, firstly advising her of our own efforts to make the digital world accessible “Down Under”, and then our request. She rewarded us with the boundless generosity we would later come to know her by when she agreed, and kindly prepared a special video message to all those who gathered with us to celebrate the occasion.
Our networking with other disability rights advocates in the US continued in 2016, including with Blind Film Critic, Tommy Edison (after being kindly connected to him by local Friend of DGI, Rick Randall) and esteemed accessibility guru, Jim Thatcher, kept forcing us back into Lainey’s orbit, with both regularly referring to her in conversation and how highly regarded she was in our space. Lainey herself then reconnected with us to alert us to her book’s release in September that year. Then when Jim’s website went down and we were unable to raise a response from him, concerned, we reached out to Lainey who advised us that Jim had become unwell and connected us up with his wife, Diana Seidel. Before we knew it, we had offered to step up to the plate and host his invaluable website as a historical archive [here].
Regular contact with Lainey continued into the New Year when she advised us of her intention to take a break from the exhaustion of “Trump’s America” and visit some friends in Sydney. Seeing this as way too good an opportunity to pass up (we’re like that;), we floated the idea of returning the favour she had so kindly done for us at our Parliament House event by offering to coordinate our efforts to host a seminar promoting her book, and where she could also share her learned strategies and open discussion with disability rights lawyers how these might be similarly applied here in Australia. Without very much coaxing at all, we were able to easily convince Lainey to agree, and the rest as they say is history.
Structured Negotiation and the quest for equal access in the digital age: lessons from the US disability rights movement
with US disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold
Date: Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Time: 5.30pm – 7pm
Venue: Ashurst Australia, Level 11, 5 Martin Place, Sydney
Order of events:
5.30pm Light refreshments
6pm – 7pm Seminar and Q&A
At the seminar, Lainey will discuss her 20+ years of collaboration to advance disability civil rights and how strategies used in the United States might be applied here in Australia. She will also bring the audience up-to-date on what is happening with U.S. digital accessibility court cases, laws, and regulations. Websites are global, tech companies are global and digital advocacy is global too.
*For screen reader users, we recommend using the Firefox browser to RSVP on the Eventbrite website – or please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Lainey’s book, Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, tells the story of the dispute resolution process she pioneered that avoids lawsuits in favour of win-win solutions to complex legal issues. Lainey and her clients have used Structured Negotiation with some of the largest organisations in the United States to protect and advance the rights of blind people to access digital information and other technologies. The book can be purchased on the night (limited copies available). For readers with print disabilities, Structured Negotiation is available in epub format through the ABA, or with enhanced typesetting enabled in the ebook version from Amazon or on Bookshare.