Jackson County Commissioners have agreed to settle a lawsuit for $8,000 and a retooling of its website so that documents included in it will be readable by way of common systems the visually impaired depend upon to access the material they contain.

The suit was brought by Joel Price, who on March 13 of this year asserted in a complaint that the county was in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act for alleged failure to provide electronic documents on the county website in a format accessible to visually impaired individuals, and that it was also in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for the same reason.

Price contended that the county’s website contains documents in the PDF file format that are not readable by a screen reader and therefore discriminates against the visually impaired. Since the county receives federal funding, the complaint asserts, the county is obliged to follow the federal rehab act guidelines that require it to make the website documents more accessible via a screen reader.

The county, in accepting the agreement, admits no wrongdoing or fault, with language in the document stating that the settlement was accepted “to avoid further costs, burdens and distractions of litigation.” The governing body has until Dec. 31 of 2020 to achieve the updates needed, for material going forward, and is not obliged to make readable the previously posted documents, and has a 60-day window beyond that to cure any breach of the agreement. A consultant will be used to determine whether any such claimed breach does exist.

The settlement calls for all parties to pay their own attorney fees and other associated costs.

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