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ICDRI in Support of ISOC/ISTF Position on Digital Signature Law


The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet is in full support of the statement below. Please note that the shortcomings of this law will also effect those using alternate Internet access devices such as cellular phones and  PDAs. For further information please see Cynthia Waddell's commentary





Landmark U.S. Digital Signature Legislation Falls Short with Regard to Persons with Disabilities

Washington, D.C.; July 3, 2000 - While praising passage of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (S761) by the U. S. Congress as a significant step forward in many areas, the Internet Societal Task Force (ISTF) and its parent organization, the Internet Society (ISOC), have expressed concern that the legislation does not adequately take into account the needs of persons with disabilities.

The issues involved are not only limited to persons with disabilities, but may have an adverse impact on those people using alternate Internet access devices such as cell phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs).

Cynthia Waddell of the International Center for Disability Resources <http://www.icdri.org/> and a leading member of the ISTF states: "For a person with a visual disability to access an electronic contract, the document needs to be coded for accessible web design when it is created. It would do well to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines posted by the W3C at <http://www.w3.org/WAI>."

Persons with visual impairments are at a disadvantage if a contract is not properly encoded. In some cases, they may not be able to take advantage of the benefits of digital signatures as a means to enhance the conduct of business and commerce using the Internet. They also run the risk of entering into a legal and enforceable contract that they may not able to fully comprehend. More alarming, these consumers may not realize that they are unable to read portions of the contract.

"We commend the U.S. Congress for this further recognition of, and support for, the importance of the Internet in conducting day to day business," said Don Heath, President and CEO of the Internet Society. He added, "However, if the Bill were to be amended to embrace accessible web design so that the widest audience of consumers could benefit from electronic contracts, it would result in a huge benefit for the disabled around the world, and put the U.S. in a clear leadership position in this area. Likewise, we hope that future laws in this venue address accessibility issues before they are passed."


The Internet Society (ISOC) <http://www.isoc.org> is a professional membership society with organizational and individual members in over 170 countries. It provides leadership in addressing issues that confront the future of the Internet, and is the organization home for the groups responsible for Internet infrastructure standards, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).

The Internet Society is dedicated to ensuring the open evolution, development and use of the Internet for the benefit of all peoples of the world, and to this end assumes a leadership role in developing and disseminating Internet policy on technical and societal issues worldwide, providing Internet education and training, and striving to represent the best interests of the Internet and its users. A network of Chapters in 60 countries (with many more in formation) supports the work of the global organization.

The Internet Societal Task Force (ISTF) <http://www.istf.org> is an open organization of people who are committed to furthering the mission of the Internet Society (ISOC) and work to identify ways in which the Internet can be a positive force in social and economic dimensions.



Michael Burks
Internet Societal Task Force
5212 Covington Bend Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27613 USA
Tel: +1 919 870 8788
Email: mburks952@worldnet.att.net


Lance Laack
International Policy Coordinator
Internet Society
11150 Sunset Hills Road
Suite 100
Reston, VA 20190-5321
Tel: +1 703 326 9880
Fax: +1 703 326 9881

4, rue des Falaises
CH-1205 Geneva
Tel: +41 22 807 1444
Fax: +41 22 807 1445
Email: lance@isoc.org

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