GOOD NEWS FOR ACB BASEBALL FANS
by Lainey Feingold and Brian Charlson

The web sites of Major League Baseball -- and the web sites of all 30 major league teams -- will be accessible to blind baseball fans as a result of advocacy efforts by ACB and its Massachusetts and California affiliates. The collaboration was announced in a press release issued before the start of the 2010 season.

Improvements to the site began in 2009, and will continue for the 2010 season. Blind fans can expect to be able to access MLB's on-line radio and television broadcasts without the problems experienced in past years. Improvements to statistics pages and all other information on the site are also being made. Last year was the first time blind fans were able to vote independently on line for their favorite All Star players.

Major League Baseball has posted an Accessibility Information Page on the site with a dedicated e-mail address where blind fans can provide comments on the accessibility of the site. The direct link to the page is http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/help/accessibility.jsp. MLB also worked with ACB and its affiliates to develop a Frequently Asked Question page for blind fans. You can find a link to the FAQs on the Accessibility Information Page.

The Boston Globe covered MLB's web accessibility initiative with a great story featuring ACB and BSCB activist Brian Charlson. Charlson, who is director of computer training services at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, was quoted in the Globe, saying, "Blind people are big fans of baseball. It's a sport where the play by play can make sense to a blind person. You've only got the pitcher, batter and fielder. With only three people to keep track of at any one time, it is easy to keep track of." The Globe article also talked about Charlson's 2008 baseball tour where he and a fellow BSCB member attended eight games in six cities over eight days.

Northern California's CBS radio station, KCBS, also covered the story, with a piece featuring California Council of the Blind president Jeff Thom. Jeff was quoted saying, "We're thrilled, not only with what they've done, but how tremendously cooperative they have been throughout the whole process."

The press release was jointly issued by Major League Baseball and ACB and its California and Massachusetts affiliates. ACB president Mitch Pomerantz stated: "MLBAM has undertaken groundbreaking work to make its web sites accessible and has assumed a strong leadership position among sports, media and entertainment properties in doing so. We certainly urge similar sites to make this level of commitment in following MLBAM's lead."

MLB's web accessibility agreement was reached using structured negotiations, an advocacy effort that ACB and its affiliates have used for the past 15 years to improve the accessibility of information and technology across the country. Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian were the lawyers who negotiated the agreement with ACB representatives. Advocates in the Bay State Council of the Blind began the effort by documenting the accessibility problems found on the baseball site and notifying the league about the needs of blind consumers.

MLB has been a great partner with ACB in this effort. If you encounter problems with the site, we know that Major League Baseball wants to know about them, and will do everything they can to address them. (They would be happy to hear compliments as well!) Please use the contact information on the Accessibility Information Page to contact Major League Baseball about accessibility issues. You can also contact the ACB team that is monitoring the settlement through Lainey's email at [email protected] The toll-free phone number for Linda's office is: 1-800-822-5000.

Resources. Here are some resources to learn more about the MLB web accessibility initiative:

(1) Direct link to the MLB Accessibility FAQs: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/help/faq_accessibility.jsp

(2) Direct link to the MLB Accessibility Information Page: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/help/accessibility.jsp

(3) The MLB press release is online at: http://www.lflegal.com/mlb-press

(4) The Boston Globe article is online at: http://lflegal.com/2010/02/mlb-boston-globe/

(5) The full settlement agreement between ACB and Major League Baseball is online at: http://www.lflegal.com/mlb-agreement.


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