Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Does Wi-Fi Violate the ADA?

See this interesting post on that question on Disaboom. It begins:

Some Santa Fe residents are seeking to ban Wi-Fi signals in public buildings across the city. The residents, who claim to be highly electro-sensitive, claim that the prevalence of Wi-Fi signals causes adverse reactions such as headaches along with joint and muscle soreness. Despite using specially protected walls inside their cars and homes, these residents still feel the effect of the Wi-Fi signals.

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that connects users to the internet, media and data. Wi-Fi is supported by most computers and networks in today's world. You can find Wi-Fi in coffee shops, book stores, libraries and some government buildings.

A group of electrically-sensitive residents in Santa Fe is suing the city and claims that broadcasting Wi-Fi signals in public areas is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city attorney is now checking into the matter to see if it is indeed a violation.

I'm dubious that this is a violation of the ADA. If the plaintiffs feel the effects of Wi-Fi signals even inside their specially protected homes, it's hard to see how the city (which has got to be an awfully minor contributor to the aggregate Wi-Fi signals within its boundaries) could reasonably modify its policies and practices to avoid the problems these plaintiffs are facing. I'd be very interested to see the papers in this lawsuit, though (assuming there is a lawsuit -- the news story linked by the blog post suggests that people have complained, but it doesn't mention any lawsuit).

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Blogger Veralidaine said...

Interesting question! I had missed this post on Disaboom- thanks for the link. So much good stuff there! I wonder? Accessibility for ALL is such a thorny issue- some have chemical sensitivities, others can't handle flickering lights, and cities that don't even remember to repair sidewalks promptly to help wheelchair users access the community equally are ill-equipped to provide access for more unique disabilities.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

The video linked in the news story claims the lawsuit, although the story itself does not.

7:06 PM  

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