Episodes

How (Not) to Get Sued

13 Letters
March 12, 2020

You don’t mess with Lainey Feingold. That’s probably why, after a 25 year career in accessibility and 75 successful, precedent-setting agreements with behemoth companies, Lainey has only had to sue someone once. (Can you guess who??). Based out of a small spare bedroom law practice in Berkeley, CA, Lainey has brought the corporate world to the table, over and over, to commit to accessibility in a process she calls the “structured negotiation.” Rather than the shark stereotype that most lawyers have to deal with and sometimes even ascribe to, Lainey prefers to think of herself using another metaphor: a dolphin. Have your doubts? It worked for Bank of America, every team in Major League Baseball, and many, many more. In this episode Lainey talks about her career as a non-litigious attorney, her successes in public speaking, and what’s really up with the CSUN AT conference.

Presenting Sponsor: Deque University

Show Notes:

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Episode Transcript

Will Butler:
Today's episode is brought to you by Deque U. Deque offers training for every level of expertise and every area of expertise in Digital Accessibility. That's pretty cool.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
That is awesome.

Will Butler:
If you have a disability you qualify for a scholarship. That's free access to Deque University's online, in-depth Digital Accessibility curriculum for one full year. I did not know that.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
They have some really good resources there.

Will Butler:
Visit dequeuniversity.com. That's D-E-Q-U-Euniversity.com to get started.

Will Butler:
There is a lot going on in the world. I just got a text from my mom literally telling me to come home.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
She loves you.

Will Butler:
She lives 500 miles away. You just got a text from your mom. What did hers say?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
She said that I can actually pull off wearing a jumpsuit.

Will Butler:
Oh.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
Thanks, Mom.

Will Butler:
But, the point is all of us Accessibility people are scattered to the four winds and wandering the earth. I mean, just like everybody else. I don't want to make it seem like it's unique, but the CSUN, this is a tech conference that everyone was looking forward to this week is-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
Still technically happening.

Will Butler:
But not a lot of people are going to be there. I will be there when this podcast comes out I will be there, so if folks want to have a lonely fear let me know. There's a lot of other cool stuff going on. People are banding together and really kind of like ... I don't know, I think it's just to me just confirming all this talk we've been having about solidarity within the community.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
For me it was amazing when I first started in the Accessibility Community because I started just to get to know the community through Twitter, and then I went to CSUN and all these people who I only knew through the internet were all there in person. The kinds of conversations that we could have face-to-face were so thrilling and exciting, and confirmed for me why I had chosen the right career path.

Will Butler:
So, in honor of this very kind of like rough week that everyone's having, we rushed out a very special episode that we were going to hold for later on in the season, but we made sure that we got it all chopped up and ready for you for this non CSUN week. We're talking to one of the most legendary attorneys in Accessibility today, Lainey Feingold.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
I actually first learned about Lainey at CSUN, because people were like, You got to go to this legal update that this lawyer named Lainey ... Lot of L words, legal update by Lainey the lawyer, the legend. ... that Lainey does. It was so invigorating in a really interesting way. I was like, The law ... No offense to my lawyer sister, but I was like the law is boring, but Lainey made it really exciting and made me see my role in it. So, I don't know, I'm just like a huge Lainey fan girl, and really delighted that she's taken some time to talk with us.

Will Butler:
You wouldn't think that like the legal update would be the hot talk at a conference.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
It's like standing room only and then they kick you out because it's a fire hazard.

Will Butler:
There's like lines around the conference center.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
She's had to do repeat sessions. It is popping. Also, in this episode Lainey mentions Salesforce, so thought it would be a good time to remind you all that while I work at Salesforce I am contributing to 13 Letters as an individual, so nothing I say here reflects the views of the company.

Will Butler:
Seems fair.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
It's just me, just Cordelia.

Will Butler:
Though we love Salesforce.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
I'm biased but, again, my views are my own.

Will Butler:
Lainey is the reason that your bank's websites are accessible, that your-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
Your favorite baseball team's website is accessible.

Will Butler:
It's really, really remarkable. The fact that she somehow did it ... I originally wanted to call this episode, Somebody's Getting Sued, because I thought it was like a really spicy-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
It's got alliteration.

Will Butler:
Yeah, thing that would make people click it. Lainey hasn't sued hardly anybody.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
Who knew that lawyers don't have to sue people.

Will Butler:
That is why this episode is a really special one to listen to, especially if you work at a company, to figure out not just how do you avoid lawsuits but how do you avoid lawsuits and become an incredible Accessibility leader?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
It's all about communication and collaboration.

Will Butler:
And dolphins.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:
And cookies.

Will Butler:
I don't think we could have done better than that.

Will Butler:

[inaudible 00:05:59] Where did you guys meet? Any conferences?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I think we officially met at Accessibility Toronto last year, but we knew of each other on the internet before then. Sorry

Lainey Feingold:

I always was envious of Cordelia's emoji, what do you call that thing?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

My-

Lainey Feingold:

Personal.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

My avatar.

Lainey Feingold:

Your avatar.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Illustrated avatar. I owe Lainey one.

Will Butler:

The one of you waving?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, I drew you [inaudible 00:06:42] of you, Will.

Will Butler:

You drew me?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I drew you.

Will Butler:

So, Lainey, LF Legal is that your company, or what is your ... Is that just your brand, or do you just go by Lainey Feingold?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, the truth is I work out of my house and I don't have any staff, and I don't have anything to help me do what I do.

Will Butler:

You're tearing down the legend of Lainey Feingold.

Lainey Feingold:

I know. The pull back curtain a little. The only reason I have a brand, which is LF Legal, is because of Josh [Mealey 00:07:18] who when I was getting my website in 2008 ... Maybe you've heard this already. I wanted to call it ... Well, I didn't know what to call it. I was going to be like laineyfeingold.com, and Josh was like, "No one can spell Lainey. No one can spell Feingold and you need something that will fit on this line of braille."

Will Butler:

That's so harsh.

Lainey Feingold:

He did not mince words. He did not mince words, and he was right. I think he said, Why don't you be LF Legal, or somehow we were conversing like what should I be. Yeah, so I became LF Legal, and that was in '08 before I was on Twitter. I never thought I needed a brand because I don't have a company or anything. Then it became a brand and sometimes people just call me LF Legal, or they just, Oh, this is Lainey Feingold from LF Legal, as if it's some big thing.

Will Butler:

Now, your buddy Jim is TRE Legal.

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

Did Josh make him his website, too?

Lainey Feingold:

No, but I've never asked him. Maybe he got the, maybe he was inspired by LF Legal. I don't know.

Will Butler:

Maybe he got scolded by Josh.

Lainey Feingold:

Maybe he did. But Tim Elder, you could spell it.

Will Butler:

That's true.

Lainey Feingold:

Elder.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Can you remind me, how many characters of braille can comfortably fit on a business card?

Lainey Feingold:

This I don't know.

Will Butler:

27.5.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I know my full email address probably cannot fit because I've got a long name.

Will Butler:

Yeah, the email addresses with long names are tough. They have to skip lines.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's all about that QR code, ...

Will Butler:

Are your-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

OCR.

Will Butler:

Are your business cards brailled?

Lainey Feingold:

They are brailled. They're on recycled paper. There with soy ink. It's like, I'm from Berkeley. Here's my business card. No, the biggest thing I did with that card is before I got my website ... My real name is Elaine.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Whoa. I didn't know that.

Lainey Feingold:

I used to call the law office, Law Office of Elaine Feingold, even though it's always been in my upstairs bedroom. The card would say like Lainey Feingold, Law Office of Elaine Feingold. It was ridiculous and the guy who did my website said, "Now is the time, you must decide, are you Elaine, or are you Lainey?" I had always used Elaine for like official professional because I thought Lainey was a little cutsey, or not really a strong feminist name. Anyways, but that's who I was, so I went with Lainey, dropped the Elaine, got the LF Legal so now I know who I am. It's all good.

Will Butler:

Gosh. I'm trying to imagine a world where we had EF Legal.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I can't.

Will Butler:

It wouldn't be the same.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I can't imagine it. So, you're Lainey the Legend. It's got the alliteration, a good punch to it.

Will Butler:

Where did you grow up?

Lainey Feingold:

Worcester, Massachusetts.

Will Butler:

Worcester.

Lainey Feingold:

Worcester. My whole family stayed there. I came to California when I was 20.

Will Butler:

To Berkeley?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I came, I went to college for two years in the East, then just came out to take six months off of college and never went back.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It felt like you had an East Coast vibe but I couldn't quite place it.

Lainey Feingold:

I have a good family. Some people with those stories are, "Oh, my god, I had to get as far away from my family as I could." No, I have a really great family. I'm very close with my family, but Berkeley was just suited me. Berkeley suited me, so I came and I stayed.

Will Butler:

So, you've pretty much just been in Berkeley ever since?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I had 10 years in San Francisco because I went to law school in San Francisco.

Will Butler:

Went to law school and then ... Have you always done Accessibility work, or was there some other career before that?

Lainey Feingold:

As I was walking over here I was reminded, not that I forgot, when I got out of law school I wanted to be a union-side labor lawyer. That was the main thing I did during law school, I wanted to do it. My first job with a union-side labor firm, they represented the Transit Union workers and there was a Greyhound strike. Greyhound bus station used to be right around the corner from where we are sitting at the LightHouse, and they had the first day of the National strike and I was just like a baby lawyer. A bus came up 6th street, turned on McAllister and right when they made the turn they crashed into a car and the car was being driven by Union activists ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Whoa.

Lainey Feingold:

... so, they wanted to fire ... Fortunately, no one got hurt. They wanted to fire the Union activist, and his position was it was a pure accident. I just happened to be at that corner when the first Greyhound bus driven by a [inaudible 00:12:14] came out of the station. That was one of my first cases.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

It was right over here. Almost every time I walk around here, which is not that often-

Will Butler:

The bus station is right at 6th and Mission?

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, and it used to come up and then make a left on McAllister and then go down on seventh to the freeway.

Will Butler:

How'd that case go?

Lainey Feingold:

We won the case but I have such a clear memory of that case. I was so nervous because it was like the first case, ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Like your very first.

Lainey Feingold:

... and the guy lost his job. One of my coworkers, one of my colleagues had been a Union organizer before she became a lawyer, and she was like, "Here's the file. You're a Union lawyer now. This is what we do." To this day I'm like, I feel nervous thinking about that. But it all worked out. So, I did that and I did traditional civil rights, like race and gender, and then ... As I say in my book, I got fired from a job, and as I say to young people who think a career path is going to be straight, and it never is, it's always curvy. I'm sure everybody has their story. I got fired and I was like, "Oh, my god, what do I do now?" There was a four-month opening at DREDF, the Disability Rights Education Defense Fund. I went there, turned into four years. That's how I ended up in Disability Rights.

Will Butler:

What year was that?

Lainey Feingold:

I went to DREDF in 1992, two years after the ADA was passed. I stayed for four years. At the end of four years, I have two daughters, they were 10 and 7, and working for a nonprofit was just too much, full-time nonprofit, so I said, "I don't know what's going to happen but I'm going to work out of my house and see how it goes." Then it went.

Will Butler:

Then it went.

Lainey Feingold:

Here we are.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

And here we are. Wow. You call yourself an Accessibility Elder?

Lainey Feingold:

I do.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Is that right?

Lainey Feingold:

I do. I'm going to be 64 at the end of the month. Eldering is not about age, but I do happen to have the combination of age plus a long time in the space.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Wisdom in this space. So, what kind of trends have you seen in the Accessibility space in the Disability Rights space in the time that you've spent growing into this awesome Accessibility Elder?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, one trend in the Digital Accessibility legal space, I'm sure all your listeners are familiar with, is the fact that we used to be a very collegial group of lawyers who were working on Digital Accessibility, very small group, very I don't want to say noncompetitive, because we are human beings and we could talk about that, but basically people who were in it for the right reason and for the same reason. Then, starting at around 2016 we saw a lot more lawyers looking at the space as a way to make money and people who aren't tied to the community or interested in becoming tied to the community, and that has spawned an entire universe of experts and consultants who don't really have a lot of expertise. So, things have very much changed in the last four years I'd say.

Will Butler:

So not just the legal side of it ... I mean, there's ... First off, there's these like well-known like drive-by Accessibility lawsuits that I'm curious to know if you think the threat of that is overblown or not, if you think that that's made out to be a bigger problem than it really is? Then, there's the ... You're saying there's also this proliferation of businesses that are also taking advantage of Accessibility legislation?

Lainey Feingold:

I don't want to say they're taking advantage of Accessibility legislation. I think that the lawyers came first, and to do all those lawsuits they need ... I get emails from companies that say, "If you attach our report to your demand letter we guarantee you'll be successful," without any regard for how actually disabled people are using the technology. So, I think it feeds on that legal group, and the consulting group, plus, there's more technology now so people are using artificial intelligence and claiming they can make their web ... I get ads. We can make your website accessible in less than ... [crosstalk 00:17:03]

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Two seconds [crosstalk 00:17:03]

Lainey Feingold:

... 48 hours.

Will Butler:

Do you get ads for your website?

Lainey Feingold:

I get ads for my website. I get ads on Facebook ...

Will Butler:

Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

... because I use the words Web Accessibility, like $500. I feel bad for companies who want to get in it for the right reasons and they get bombarded with this kind of misinformation. We have to do a lot of clearing away the misinformation.

Will Butler:

Every month it seems like I just hear about several new solutions.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's always a new Accessibility overlay which ... I was talking with Will about Accessibility overlays and I compare them to like putting a Hello Kitty bandaid on a giant gaping wound of just like, Yeah, you can have this inaccessible website and then just throw this thing on top of it that'll just magically make it compliant, but it isn't really a good long-term solution.

Lainey Feingold:

And, if you don't pay us every year we're going to rip that bandaid off. You're not going to have gotten any better at all. This wound's going to be exactly the same as it was a year ago. The lawsuits they support that because when you're in a lawsuit it creates fear, Oh quick we need to do something fast so we can show the judge. This is cool we'll do this thing. Then, the lawyer goes away and there's no obligation to keep paying the money.

Will Butler:

Expeditious like remediation is definitely rewarded in those cases?

Lainey Feingold:

One of the problems that I see is a lot of the settlements of those cases are not public in any way. They're always confidential and I understand, especially in this environment, the need to keep agreements confidential sometimes, but there should always be, in my view, a public statement of what's being done so the public can know, Oh good, this is being taken care of, or here's who I should call if there's still a problem. I don't really know how they're being resolved because we don't know. We just see the headlines at the front end. "Oh, nine million dollar lawsuit filed," and then we never hear what happened to it.

Will Butler:

So, we have to get as much history as we can, too, from you, though, because I want to know what was it like in 1992, two years into the ADA. I don't even know where to start, because I can't imagine how much further behind we were then than we are now. Were there any surprising things that we had already achieved?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I probably should confess here that when I walked into the DREDF office in '92 I heard there was this four-month opening. I thought I should try it. Even though I had been in Berkeley since 1976, I was completely unfamiliar with Disability Rights. I'm sure I knew disabled people, but not in the sense of the disability community. I just didn't know it existed, and it was like thrilling, is really the only word for it, to discover really that there was this entire world. So, that's one thing that was different that I was able to live here-

Will Butler:

Independent living movement. Ed Roberts.

Lainey Feingold:

Totally.

Will Butler:

All this cool stuff that had happened.

Lainey Feingold:

I knew nothing. I knew less than nothing. I didn't know anything about it.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Which I think kind of speaks to a problem we have in American society right now. It's like that's like a huge Civil Rights movement around disability that just isn't talked about very much. I only also recently learned about how pivotal particularly Berkeley has been in the history of Disability Rights in the U.S., and I didn't know it because I didn't, people weren't talking about it in mainstream places.

Lainey Feingold:

I think the good thing now, like literally right now, this month, is we have Crip Camp which is a movie. Are you familiar with it? That's being shown in Oakland, I think, for the first time at the end of the month, and it was at Sundance, and the filmmakers, both the filmmakers, are people from Berkeley so that's ... It's going to be on Netflix. That's huge. Judy Heumann's book is out, and she was just on Trevor Noah, The Daily Show, last night.

Will Butler:

Really, wow.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, people should check out the clip. It's great. It's really great.

Will Butler:

We'll put both those things in the show notes.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, I think more people are going to be aware. For me in digital, back to the history, the very first case that I did with blind people had to do with stop calling on buses because that was a ADA requirement that bus drivers call stops. Now it's all automated so that's different. In 1994, people started calling and saying, "We can't use ATMs," and the ADA just passed. Is there something we can do about that? Those calls were my entré into this whole space. This month, on March 14th, will be the 20th anniversary of our agreement with Bank of America where they announce they're talking ATMs, the very first Web Accessibility agreement, braille statements.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

That's huge.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, it's really big, and it's tied into some of what goes on now in the legal space because some people say, "Well, we didn't know." We didn't know this was a thing. So, that's the tricky part of the lawsuits, it is bringing attention to the issue.

Will Butler:

But, it took six years from that first call you got to reach an agreement with, to get someone like Bank of America-

Lainey Feingold:

It took six years. Well, yeah, we notified, we wrote to the bank in '95 and we got our first agreement in '99 with Citibank and Wells Fargo. We wrote three letters in '95. Bank of America was the first one to include web access, and it was when it was WCAG 1.0. WCAG 1.0 was brand new, basically. I think it was '97 or '98. So, yeah, it was ... The whole even idea of Web Accessibility, what is it? Again, I've been a lawyer, and I wrote a book so attention goes to me, but none of this would happen without the blind people who wrote those letters and called us and said to me, ... People like Jerry [Coon 00:23:38]. who I know has been involved in the LightHouse, and Roger Peterson said, "Okay, Lainey, good job on the talking ATMs, but there's this thing called online banking. Talk about things that are different.

Will Butler:

So, your career has been almost entirely Digital Accessibility, correct?

Lainey Feingold:

Since 1990- When I first got to DREDF I was also doing a lot of architectural barrier cases. We worked on stadium access at Candlestick Park, and the Oakland Coliseum, and I was involved in the, I think it was one of the first prison access for disabled prisoners, but definitely since I began my own law practice, so-called law practice out of my house.

Will Butler:

The cat's out of the bag everyone.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's pretty legit.

Lainey Feingold:

I don't know. What happened is when we did the first, when the first banks agreed to talking ATMs people around the country were like, "We want this, too," and it just grew from there.

Will Butler:

The personal finance industry has always been kind of like a starting point, I guess, because it's such an integral part of living an independent life, like having independent access to your own money.

Lainey Feingold:

Yes. Part of an independent life, and also the security risks of not being able to ... People would have to ask for help to use an ATM, or to use a point of sale device. Banks got that. That was the beauty of being able to do it in collaboration and not fighting, because the banks got to meet their blind customers and the minute they did they're like, "Wow." Like Kathy Martinez. She was one of the early people involved with this. Kim Charlson. They were professionals and Kathy even then was traveling like all over the world, and can't get $20 out of your own bank. The bankers got it. We didn't have to hit them overhead with a hammer.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

So, 25 years into this I feel like we're still, people are still unsure on how WCAG, W-C-A-G, 2.1, 2.2 how that fits into the ADA, how that fits into Section 508. What was that like with the very early version of WCAG, did you say 1.0?

Lainey Feingold:

1.0.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

1.0. was there ever a 0., like a beta WCAG? What were those early conversations like of there are these new Web Accessibility guidelines, and there's these laws that apply usually to physical spaces?

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, there's two things. First of all, the ADA has always required effective communication, so that's one thing to remember. Effective communication is this very broad term that's like, if you're delivering information visually you have to make sure blind people get access to it. If you're delivering it audibly you have to make sure deaf people get the content. That has been embedded in the ADA.

Lainey Feingold:

Now, the web is not embedded in the ADA because the ADA was passed in 1990, but that principle in the flexibility of the ADA it wasn't a very far jump, it wasn't a jump to say, "Oh, well, here's a new way we communicate." Early on we also worked on, bank statements were in paper so they had to be in braille. It's the very same concept, you can't really-

Will Butler:

Those aren't public accommodation place if they're mailing them to your house or something. That's like ... Was that a challenge at all to get the mail made accessible?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, in our work-

Will Butler:

I feel like a lot of arguments that people are making these days are like when it comes to Web Accessibility it's like, Oh, it's not an actual brick and mortar place. But, if you're talking about statements that are issued in the mail, I don't know.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, one good thing about structured negotiation, which is the collaborative way that I've been doing it all these years is we tend not to get into those legal arguments. We tend to face it on a ... Yes, we have to have legal support for what we're doing, and we need really strong laws like we have in the U.S., but we don't have to get into a lot of these arguments because ... Especially now I think companies really see the value of inclusion. We have corp ... another difference is we have corporate leaders now in ways that I don't think we had in the past. Bank of America was definitely a leader in talking ATMs and web, and they have continued really being a leader. But, we didn't have Microsoft. We didn't have companies like Salesforce with Accessibility teams, and going to conferences, or Adobe having real global leaders. We didn't ... I never like to name names because then I forget a great I'm sure ... Insert ... [crosstalk 00:28:46]

Will Butler:

And all of the other great-

Lainey Feingold:

... all the great companies.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

All the other ones.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, we didn't have that. Now I feel ... I mean, I just feel a lot of the real important work is happening inside the companies, and it did not feel like that early on. It felt like we had to come knocking on the door and saying, "Here's something to do."

Will Butler:

I'd like to talk about how you got to that point, because you must have started thinking, "I'm a lawyer. I'm engaged in lawsuits," and for those that don't know, that's not really what you do right, or is it?

Lainey Feingold:

Right. No, I have not had to fi ... In all these years we're only filed one lawsuit against a company that said, "We will not negotiate with you ...

Will Butler:

Seriously?

Lainey Feingold:

... ever," and that one company was not ... It was an airline, and airlines have their own laws, and so they thought they had an argument that they didn't need to negotiate. Yeah, right, I haven't had to file a lawsuit.

Will Butler:

I think a lot of people would be shocked to hear that.

Lainey Feingold:

Really? That's my brand. Structured negotiation.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

She's collaborative.

Will Butler:

But they assume it's like structured negotiations and lawsuits, ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah.

Will Butler:

... and going to court, or something like that.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah. Well, maybe people do, but people out there I don't, I have ... I like to say-

Will Butler:

So what don't you do? I'd like to ... [inaudible 00:30:04] Tell us what you don't do.

Lainey Feingold:

I would say I haven't had to file a lawsuit. I mean, one of the things I always say in all presentations, and webinars, and podcasts, is that lawsuits have been really integral to advancing Digital Accessibility, because I don't want to be, "Oh, well, Lainey doesn't do lawsuits so lawsuits aren't needed." No, there's lots of different effective and ethical strategies. What I've been able to do with the clients in every case is go to an organization, we've done it with governments as well as companies, and say, "You have a problem here. Rather than suing you we would like to work in collaboration." Now, we can say, there's a track record. We can use this process with a 20-year track record. You can read this book that I wrote about how it works. You can call these other lawyers from major league baseball, and Bank of America, and American Cancer Society. So, in my experience when people are given the opportunity to do things in collaboration they want to take it, even if they're in the biggest company there is. Will's looking very skeptical. Out there in podcast land.

Will Butler:

It must drive you crazy to see all these attorneys going for the jugular with the ADA and using plaintiffs who just want the $10,000 check?

Lainey Feingold:

Without commenting on how big a check those lawyers might deliver to their clients, because I have no idea, I will say that when it first started ... See, it used to be ... I just want to be really clear. Part of being an Elder is welcoming new people into the space, mentoring new people, not staying on the stage longer than you should. So, I just kind of had a practice that if I heard about a new lawyer I would call them up and say, ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

That's good.

Lainey Feingold:

... "You should know there's a world out there," because I have been ... I'm not just in the legal side. I feel more community with people like you guys than I do with a lot of lawyers, because in Accessibility if you don't know the companies, and the consultants, who are really doing the work you can't really do it justice. So, I used to always call people up and say, "There's a whole world out there. Call me." Most people are like, "Great," and they ask me questions. I called one of these guys and he's like, "I don't have to call you, and I never will call you." He was like so mean to me I literally got off the phone with tears in my eyes.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh, my god.

Will Butler:

Oh, my gosh.

Lainey Feingold:

I was upset. You said drive me crazy, but I used to get very upset. I used to feel ... It wasn't my fault. I knew it wasn't my fault but I thought that I could fix it. In the early stages I thought I could fix it. We could just explain what this is. This is not that field. Lawyers who say to me, "Lainey, why are you upset? Every field of law has these people." I'm like. "We never did." We never had them.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Where did they come from? Why did they start doing all of this particularly around 2016?

Will Butler:

You said we could ask you anything, Lainey. I'm just reminding you.

Lainey Feingold:

In reading about this, I think there's a combination of factors. One thing is some lawyers are able to set up cases by just running scans in the back room and finding barriers. I'll be honest with you, when it first happ ... I was really, I was so upset, and I thought I should be able to fix it, and save this space from that kind of thing.

Will Butler:

You're like a Jedi, and then there's ...

Lainey Feingold:

But a failed Jedi, is that a thing?

Will Butler:

I'm just thinking about Star Wars.

Lainey Feingold:

You got to fail.

Will Butler:

Well, I mean, look at like Obi-Wan and ... I don't know if everyone's ... I don't want to spoil anything but things did not go well for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Those guys were constantly getting cut down.

Lainey Feingold:

I decided that all that I can do is to keep saying that there's a different way and that Accessibility is about people with disabilities and ...

Will Butler:

Use the force.

Lainey Feingold:

... don't be distracted by, don't be distracted by that. Don't let that wreck. That's where the companies come in.

Will Butler:

So Yoda then?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Will's really trying hard to make this Star Wars thing work.

Will Butler:

I'm just ... It's really interesting to me, because I've known you for a while. I know all about structured negotiations. I never would have guessed you only filed one lawsuit.

Lainey Feingold:

I will say we lost that lawsuit that we did file. It wasn't our fault, it was because the airline law was different. Now, since that time they have made requirements for airline websites to be accessible. Well, I'm a big believer that you can learn the skills of collaboration just like you can learn the skills of being adversarial, and it's just a question of mindfulness, and intention, and communication, and having real people with real problems that can explain what the issues are.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I think you ... The last time we were talking you had a great metaphor around sharks and dolphins that I really love. Sorry to move away from the Star Wars.

Will Butler:

Oh, we need another metaphor, okay, fine.

Lainey Feingold:

I do. I didn't bring you guys. I have dolphin swag.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Dolphin swag. Is that your new personal brand?

Lainey Feingold:

It's not a brand but I do have the swag. I have the key chains, I have the tattoos, I have ...

Will Butler:

Wow, nice.

Lainey Feingold:

That's because lawyers are seen as sharks.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

A real tattoo, or temporary tattoo?

Lainey Feingold:

A temporary tattoo.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Just needed to clarify.

Lainey Feingold:

Yes, you need to get one.

Will Butler:

A real one.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'll get a dolphin. I'll have a pizza tattoo and a domino tattoo, so people are like, "Oh, you have a Domino's Pizza tattoo." I'm like, "I do not have a Domino's Pizza tattoo."

Will Butler:

You're like RFP Domino's inaccessibility. Wait, you need to walk me through the dolphin thing. I'm already confused.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, those two things started. One is there was a book called teaching baby sharks to swim, which I'm sure is a good book. I never read it. I'm sure the guy is good. He has a whole-

Will Butler:

About lawyering?

Lainey Feingold:

About lawyering.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Was it ruined by the baby shark song?

Will Butler:

Oh, wow, didn't even think about that.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Do, do, do, do, do.

Lainey Feingold:

I don't know. My kids are all grown up, I don't know that. Also, I think in Civil Rights people feel like if you're not fighting somehow you're not caring, or if you're not fighting, if you're not angry ... There's a place for anger, but if you don't have those things are you really in it? I'm like, Yeah, I feel like being collaborative has accomplished a lot in this space, and so I wanted another animal to represent me besides a shark. So, I asked two friends, I've said this before, who are marine biologists. They both suggested dolphin. They don't know each other. I sent separate emails.

Will Butler:

Oh nice.

Lainey Feingold:

Because dolphins are very collaborative and communicative, and I have a great article from National Geographic where the dolphin, and there's a picture of the dolphins, they have to work together to open up this thing where there is food is, and they do. They open it up. It's like a tube sort of thing. I think there's a picture of it on my website. So, yeah, I just try to give people permi ... it's almost like giving permission to be nice. Somehow like, I don't want to simplify it too much, but a lot of it is that and not-

Will Butler:

Don't dolphins save people's lives?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, another fun thing about getting the dolphin thing in my mind was that, of course there's Flipper, the dolphin. Then, I was doing a workshop and someone said ... Oh, I was doing the workshop and I was afraid not everyone would know Flipper, because it's a TV show before the time of many people in this space.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

There was also a movie in the '90s.

Will Butler:

Really?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, staring Elijah Wood.

Will Butler:

I thought that was Free Willie?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

No.

Lainey Feingold:

Somebody raised their hand in this workshop and said to explain she goes, "Yeah, well, I've seen Flipper. It's like a water Lassie," like Lassie the dog, also quiet and saved things. Then, I went to Australia, I did this and I discovered they have Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Look it up. The same exact show with a Kangaroo.

Will Butler:

So, there's like Lassie, there's Flipper, there's Skippy. There's probably like twelve other ones in different cultures.

Lainey Feingold:

Yes, I would love to, yes, put that out as podcasts. Mention send Lainey any things like that.

Will Butler:

That's a pretty powerful metaphor. If you think of a company, let's just call them a drowning person, because they're not accessible yet, so they're going to go down if they ... You're saving them. You're collaborating with them, you're saving them as opposed to someone just taking advantage of that situation.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Pulling them.

Lainey Feingold:

I'm not going to go with the saving part of it, but I think the communication and the collaboration, and the listening, I think that matters, and that's what all those little pets, they all live with their families and-

Will Butler:

A note to our podcast editor, you don't have to include the entire extended metaphor conversation if you don't want to.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

But if you want to that's cool, too. Yeah. Don't dolphins also communicate through echo location?

Will Butler:

So, what we need is this plush dolphin with a cane.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah. Yeah.

Lainey Feingold:

Maybe that should be my ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Ooh.

Lainey Feingold:

... emoticon. What do you call those things that I don't have.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Your avatar.

Lainey Feingold:

My avatar. Not with a cane because that would be appropriation, but something with the-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Maybe something with like your hair and glasses and a dolphin face.

Lainey Feingold:

Something like that.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Okay, got to make it work.

Lainey Feingold:

I will say that some people are very serious, and I have been criticized for not recognizing the important role of sharks in the ecosystem, and that dolphins can be aggressive. So, I have to also say that they are just a metaphor. They're a metaphor, a way of just getting to the point that sometimes you can talk things through.

Will Butler:

When you look back at those negotiations that then, of course, led you into writing this book about how to negotiate in an effective collaborative way with companies who need to be more accessible, what are the high points? You mentioned things like Major League Baseball. Do you want to toss some other ones out there? What are the ones you look back on with pride?

Lainey Feingold:

That's a good question. Well, I can see certain junctures, like we started with finance and so we did finance. I remember the LightHouse, actually. I should mention LightHouse wasn't in this building, but the LightHouse had worked to get Accessible Pedestrian Signals in San Francisco. Anita Aaron was Executive Director, and they had meetings and they did really great advocacy. But, at some point they thought we need law, too, but collaboration was perfect for them because the LightHouse like now they have so many different efforts going on. You don't want to burn ... Lawsuits can really burn bridges, not just to the thing you're going for but for anything. We did the structured negotiation on Accessible Pedestrian Signals, and it was great in so many ways. One, in that one of the blind advocates, Gene Lozano was a real expert in pedestrian signals. He brought such a wealth of his own personal experience and he was like a National expert.

Will Butler:

Really?

Lainey Feingold:

Anita was getting a Master's degree in Accessible Pedestrian Signals.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

What? Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

And, we used two experts, two additional expert experts, Beezy Bentzen and Janet Barlow, who are really the best experts in the field, but because we weren't fighting we would have meetings. Everyone would be there, the city people, and it was just sharing instead of, "Oh, we have our experts and then they have to have their experts, and all this money is spent with the experts."

Will Butler:

These aren't experts taking the stand and telling you what everything should be.

Lainey Feingold:

That's been one of the most important things of the process.

Will Butler:

In those situations do you still sort of play like a parental role, though, because you are the attorney?

Lainey Feingold:

You know what, a lot of times we're not even there. When we get the trust thing going with the government agency, or the company ... We have ground rules for structured negotiation, so we know we're operating with the goal of having an agreement at the end, a lot of times I say, "You don't need lawyers here." At the beginning, of course the lawyers are there, and there's an important role for the lawyers. But, I don't know anything about Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Anyone interested can check out the standards. I have them on my website. There's like 100 different things, how loud, how long do you press the button for, how high is the button, what is the sound like, where does the sound go?

Will Butler:

That probably makes them more comfortable not to just-

Lainey Feingold:

When the lawyers are out of the room?

Will Butler:

Yeah, less of a performance, I don't know.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I feel like if I were you I'd want to just stay in the room and learn from everyone. These sound like such interesting conversations.

Will Butler:

Yeah, they do.

Lainey Feingold:

A lot of times I do, but I do ... Another thing about the process is I'll just ask a company like ... The person we're dealing with is always, we know them but they have people they have to answer to also, so I can just say, "Do you think your people will feel intimidated if the lawyers are in the room, or will they feel like they can't be really honest?"

Will Butler:

What other ones?

Lainey Feingold:

So, that one. Major League Baseball was a sort of turning point kind of thing. That was in '07 and '08, and when Brian Charlson of the American Council of the Blind asked if we'd be interested I was like, Oh, is that important enough?" I had this view. I was going to say I'm not ashamed to say, I am kind of ashamed to say, but that kind of opened my eyes that everything, just everything has to be ... I mean, I knew everything had to be accessible but I just felt like, really, should the law come to bear on Major League Baseball? I think-

Will Butler:

The climate was different.

Lainey Feingold:

I think it's probably the most important ... If you asked someone like what people use the most of the work I did, everywhere people would just like ... "Oh, thank you for working on Major League Baseball," because people listen to games online.

Will Butler:

What did you achieve through, I don't know?

Lainey Feingold:

Oh, well one thing I learned. They came to us mostly because Major League Baseball you can listen online to games. You can't listen to the radio if you're not in your hometown. So, like I grew up in Massachusetts, but if I want to listen to a Red Sox game you have to do it online, which seems obvious now, but there were all these work arounds, and it was so hard to get to. Some people say, "Well, it was obvious what was the problem," but the players weren't accessible. One of those things, like everything has to be accessible. You have to be able to get to it, rewind. So, we had this great negotiation with Major League Baseball over making their website accessible. Out of that they decided to make all their 30 team sites accessible.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Nice.

Lainey Feingold:

Because why? Because this process allowed them to meet their blind customers, their blind fans. Then, in '08 when the App store opened we were in the middle of conversation, they came out with really one of the first Apps, had Accessibility problems because no one was thinking about that, but we already had the relationship. We didn't have to like file another lawsuit. We didn't have to fight about whether Apps are covered.

Will Butler:

Just pick up the phone.

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

I still do that with so many of these companies, just pick up the phone and say, "You guys screwed up on this. Can you fix it?" Fixed. That's the thing about Accessibility, you need the long-term ... That's why I hate those companies with the overlays and pay $500, because what's going to happen next year? If you don't build the expertise inside what's going to happen?

Will Butler:

I think that's one of our hopes for the podcast is that someone at a company who doesn't know anything about Accessibility could come listen to a bunch of episodes and understand the depth of this and that it's a process and not like a ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Like a check mark.

Will Butler:

... check mark, and start to bake it into their company.

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

That's the future, right?

Lainey Feingold:

That's the future. That's why I have, besides the dolphin check, I do have the cookie thing going.

Will Butler:

Wait, what?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

See, I knew [crosstalk 00:47:59]

Lainey Feingold:

Will doesn't know.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

[crosstalk 00:48:01] Will. I told Will that I wanted to talk a lot about metaphor with you on this podcast.

Will Butler:

I was like, "Yeah, whatever Cordelia."

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

We use metaphor a lot in the Accessibility Community, but I think just metaphor in general is a really good way to bond with people, to have these conversations with people and it sounds like all of your work is talking with people, getting them to talk with each other. We talk a lot about baking in the Accessibility space.

Will Butler:

I'm ashamed of my Star Wars metaphor at this point. I need to rescind the whole thing.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

No, you can keep it. You can keep it.

Lainey Feingold:

I actually did a whole talk on ... One of the vendors had a conference that I went to and the theme was space, so I had a lot of good ... I'll send you the slide deck. There were a lot of good quotes from-

Will Butler:

I'll dive into it. What was the cookie thing?

Lainey Feingold:

The cookie thing came out of a presentation I did with Microsoft, which was great for me. I've been sort of saying the same thing over and over. Now, there's companies like Microsoft who not just say it but say it loud and invite me to participate with one of their lawyers, which is really like a thrill for me, because no company wants to be first. We had that problem when we worked on talking prescription labels, and we've collaborated with a lot of pharmacies and a lot of pharmacies now offer it, but at the beginning it was like, "Well, who else does this?" So, we did this presentation at CSUN in 2018 on how to bake Accessibility into your organization. I had a cousin who was a baker in San Diego and she baked these really yummy cookies. The idea of the metaphor is all the ingredients matter. So, if you're just focused on compliance to define your Accessibility efforts you're going to have a really boring, bad cookie. So, that's one thing.

Lainey Feingold:

The ingredients are like compliance, and design, and coding, and transparency, training, and then the other thing is the top is all full with like chocolate chips and sprinkles because there's so many roles, because everyone wants to just put it on the head of the developer, "Oh, you go make it accessible." We all know now that there's so many roles. Between the cookies and the dolphins I would say those are my metaphors.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Ooh.

Will Butler:

Nice things.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Lainey's new avatar is going to be a dolphin ...

Lainey Feingold:

Eating a cookie.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

... eating a cookie with her hair and glasses.

Will Butler:

I'm sorry, I'm just trying to think of bad cookies.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I always say if the law is too big a role ... The law is like the salt. You have to have salt to make a sweet cookie, even though it seems counterintuitive, but bakers know that. But, if you have too much salt, blech, terrible cookie.

Will Butler:

Any other landmark ... I'm done with metaphors?

Lainey Feingold:

Good, because I don't think I have any more.

Will Butler:

Any other landmark collaborations, though?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I think I've probably done about 75 with my best guess, somewhere around there. I think for the people involved they were all landmark. I don't want to say they're landmark like landmark, but they mattered. They were ... I helped some lawyers in Texas work with their transit agency to make sure the scheduling and all that sort of stuff was accessible. So, that was good to see that it worked with government. We worked with San Francisco on the Accessible Pedestrian Signals, but it's a little harder with a public entity. Sometimes they need the pressure of the lawsuit, or whatever, so it was good to do the public sector ones. American Cancer Society was really good. We worked with them on their information. That taught me that ... How do you give it over to the company so that they see ... Oh, I have another metaphor. They see-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Sorry, Will.

Lainey Feingold:

They see our issues as consistent with their business plan, so with the American Cancer Society they are leaders in providing cancer information. They provide it in a ton of languages, so we could use that and say, "You're already thinking about people who speak Spanish, or Chinese. These are people who also need a format," and in a lot of work we've done on formatting if we can get it into the part of the company ... Like we work with healthcare companies to make sure healthcare information is accessible. If they already know, they already have the infrastructure to provide alternative formats they're not thinking about it in terms of disabled people, but we can get them to think about it that way.

Will Butler:

Just plug it in.

Lainey Feingold:

So, the other metaphor ... I don't know if this is a metaphor or an image, but a picture of a cat looking in the mirror and seeing a lion, because everybody, every company no matter how big, thinks of themselves in a certain way. Our job in convincing people to do things is to understand how they see themselves. American Cancer Society saw themselves as giving out information to as many people as possible, so this fits. Accessible information fits right in.

Will Butler:

We had a previous guest talking about how being a Head of Accessibility in a big corporation is, a lot of it is about first understanding the culture of that organization in order to figure out how to communicate ...

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

... to the staff of that organization why this is important, because different companies have different value sets.

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly. That's another way of saying what I'm saying. What's their lion?

Will Butler:

That's what it made me think of. It was Mike [Chabanic 00:53:52]. He was talking about, at Apple they spoke a certain language, and this is how they thought of themselves. Yeah, that's really interesting.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

On that topic, I know a lot of companies are kind of embarrassed that they may not be doing Accessibility 100% correct, or scared of talking about it, but something that I've really learned from a lot of your talks is the importance of companies being transparent with everyone, I guess, like with their users, with just the internet, with like letting people know their status. What do you say to organizations whose Accessibility status is kind of abysmal but they want to be transparent about it?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I think that people want to be heard in all environments. So, if you have a page on your website that says, "We are working on our Accessibility. Here's who to call. Here's an email address," and make sure someone is going to answer the phone call who knows something. Can that stop some of these lawyers who are just going down alphabetical lists of companies? I don't know, but for real people with disabilities, with real problems, and real Civil Rights lawyers that's everything. When people call me that is a very ... While I'm on the phone with someone I'll look on a website and say, "Oh, they have someone over there who's heard of this thing," who knows what this thing is. Try calling them. Half the time I'll never hear back from the person because it's good for the companies. They want to hear from their consumers.

Will Butler:

That's why Be My Eyes created our call center App, because we realized our blind users were calling volunteers, random people in the world, for problems with company's products, and the company just never got to hear about them. So, it was like, "Well, there's a missed opportunity."

Lainey Feingold:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

The thing about it is, like you've done 75 of these structured negotiations. Without trying to take away from that, we're not there at all. In terms of like you look at the number of lawsuits, Digital Accessibility lawsuits that there were in 2019, it's what 3000, or something like that? Can you give us some context on why this Digital Accessibility thing is still not cut and dry, and clear, and why companies aren't just falling into line, why there's still all this friction.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I was at a conference last year. The Digital Accessibility Legal Summit, which they're going to do again in April. I won't be speaking at it, but I really recommend it. Dan Goldstein who's retired now but he was a lawyer for the National Federation of the Blind, he stood up on the stage and said, "My career has been a failure." You have to understand, Dan has done some of the most important Accessibility Civil Rights, and then he points to me. He goes, "Lainey, what do you think? Aren't we failures?"

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Ooh.

Lainey Feingold:

"Lainey, what do you think? Aren't we failures?" How many sites did we fix? How many companies did we talk to? I said at conference, and to Dan, and I will say here that I don't measure it that way. Why isn't it fixed yet? I don't think the 3000 lawsuits, a lot of those 3000 lawsuits are from people running automated scans and finding problems. Why are those problems still there? Because not enough companies are following the global leaders, but every year I think it's more and more. I've been doing some more ... In addition to doing structured negotiation, in the last year I started doing more for Disability:IN, which is a ... If your listeners don't know it, ...

Will Butler:

Yeah, tell them.

Lainey Feingold:

It's a ... I think of it as like a business-to-business nonprofit dedicated to Disability Inclusion and Diversity, and I'm sort of helped them out with different projects around Accessibility. It has been so ... I just love doing that work. I had to think really long and hard about it, because I've never been in that role as like a contractor to a nonprofit. Like I said before, I really think the work is being done in the companies, and I see even companies who maybe they get a lawsuit, or maybe their website isn't ... We're all on a journey, but people I really feel there has been a shift of people really wanting to know more, learning more.

Will Butler:

I know for a fact that it has and you've ... Something you did with MLB can allow someone else to go talk to another sports client, point to that case and say, Here's why you should work with us to create an accessible sports App.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, you asked before what a proud moment was. Here's a proud moment. I was at AccessU, which is another great Digital Accessibility conference in Austin coming up this May. I was just in the audience of the session, maybe five years ago, and somebody said, "Well, we're kind of new to this but we have to be accessible because we sell to Bank of America," and I was just so ... I don't know, maybe they were selling them pencils, I don't know, but I just was so happy because it show, told-

Will Butler:

Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, we have a long way to go.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's a ripple effect.

Lainey Feingold:

We have a long way to go but I think every-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Like water rippling.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah. I think everything everyone is doing matters, and I am a believer that ... I am an optimist like Helen Keller, and I do believe that things bend towards justice like Martin Luther King said. I just have to believe that. So, as a why everything's not fully accessible yet, this I don't know, but I do know that ... Just recently Disability-IN got big public investing agencies to say, "Oh, we're going to put disability on the agenda." I feel, I just feel there's a ... I feel that it's bubbling up. Then, you look at WebAIM's 1000 and you see the terrible statistics about what's accessible and what isn't. It's all existing at the same time.

Will Butler:

Like the rest of the world. You mentioned conferences. The elephant in the room is that many are not gearing up for CSUN, the big Accessibility Assistive Technology conference, next week because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus health considerations, which taking a step back from all of the craziness around it I wanted to ask you what CSUN, or a conference like CSUN, means to you and what ... You wrote a piece about it just today when you announced that you weren't going to be there. Can you talk about the importance of those conferences?

Lainey Feingold:

Yes I can. So, I went to my first CSUN conference in 2000, and I was told about it by Gregg Vanderheiden, who was our expert in the Talking ATM thing. So, this would have been my 20th year. The only other time I canceled was in 2010, when there was a boycott of the hotel by Gay Rights and Labor people, and I agonized and I didn't go, and I really missed it even then. That was 10 years ago. I'm of two minds because it's really important to get the Accessibility message out to people who don't know anything about Accessibility, so going to traditional tech conferences, or business conferences, or lawyer conferences, hugely important, but there is something about the community that is created at a conference. CSUN is the biggest, so perhaps it creates the biggest community. There's other conferences, which I will name in a moment, that are high up on my favorites list.

Lainey Feingold:

For me, especially, I feel I've been able to do this work because I know so many people who are actually doing the work, like the two of you, and the consultants in the big companies, and I know that because of going to CSUN for 20 years. I've long been ... Hardly any lawyers go. Now, it's more of a legal, there's more lawyers that go, whatever, they have a legal track. There is a community that ... That's when I try to talk to these new lawyers coming in. I try to explain, this is not just a legal thing. It shouldn't be just a legal thing. There is a community here, not just learning what you learned in the sessions but just being part of it. I can't really overestimate how important it's been for me.

Lainey Feingold:

But then, the smaller conferences are also, like Accessibility Toronto which is amazing. I wrote about that. I've been lucky enough to go to Accessibility A11y Camp in Australia, which is amazing. Same kind of feel.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Awesome, yeah.

Lainey Feingold:

Have you been?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah?

Will Butler:

In Australia?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah.

Will Butler:

Oh nice.

Lainey Feingold:

Same kind of feel as Accessibility Toronto.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Very similar to Toronto.

Lainey Feingold:

AccessU that Knowbility does is great. That's in Austin. This year, when I was going to do the legal update with Tim Elder, we had a slide, I put this in my post today, that we were dedicating the session to Jim Thatcher and Joseph O'Connor who are two close friends of mine who died in the last four or five months. If it weren't for the yearly seeing of them a CSUN, as well as AccessU, I always saw Jim and his wife and stayed at their house sometimes, sometimes you need ... The virtual is all good, and the Zoom calls, and that's all good, but sometimes you just need the real face-to-face.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It seems kind of like summer camp, well, I guess, spring break camp where everyone just like piles in and sees all their old friends. What I love about CSUN, because that was also my sort of entry into the Accessibility community, is that people are so eager to meet each other and share best practice. The community of sharing what we've learned so that we can all make technology better for people, rather than like sort of a competitive vibe that's like, let's share our best practices. Let's make all these connections so that we can continue to make really cool things together, and separately, for ever and ever and all time. It's cool. Cool vibe.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, at the Disability:IN Conference last year, which does have a big tech Accessibility presence, Sarah [Bassam 01:05:14] from Google said. She was on the main stage and she said, "Accessibility is like business without borders." I just thought that was so beautiful, because many of the leadership companies compete with each other on all, ...

Will Butler:

Totally.

Lainey Feingold:

... a lot of other aspects, but my feeling is that sharing thing is really big.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

And very unique to our field, unfortunately.

Lainey Feingold:

I also hear that women have a higher role in the Accessibility side of tech than in other tech conferences. I don't know because I only know the Accessibility side.

Will Butler:

I don't mean to sort of sound like we're eulogizing CSUN. I don't mean to do that but the truth is-

Lainey Feingold:

That's why we're missing it so much.

Will Butler:

We miss it. We miss it. The truth is when CSUN started it was, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it was the only game in town, right, in terms of Accessibility conferences?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I don't know how long ATIA has been going on, and then there's RESNA had a conference... Is ATIA RESNA's conference, or they have a different conference?

Will Butler:

I'm not sure.

Lainey Feingold:

The Rehabilitation Engineering- [crosstalk 01:06:25]

Will Butler:

There's so many now, right?

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah. It's very different.

Will Butler:

There's so many we can go to. We made a list for this year and it was overwhelming.

Lainey Feingold:

The small ones are nicer in that the intimacy creates a certain feeling. I read about this, if anyone's interested about why ... I tried to identify why Accessibility Toronto was so amazing and had a bunch of things I thought of. But, there's also ... To say nothing of the MCs, of course, held the whole thing together.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

[crosstalk 01:06:56]

Will Butler:

[crosstalk 01:06:56]

Lainey Feingold:

There's kind of no replacement right now for something as big as CSUN regardless of what issues many people, including myself, might have with the structure of the organization, it is the place where pretty much everybody is present. It's very nice. I was thinking, especially because I'm not going this year, is it because I work by myself, I don't have a company, I don't have a team, does it mean more to me than if I did? So, I don't know, but it's a big hole right now thinking, "Oh, I'm not going to have this." On the other hand my calendar is so empty this week.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, what are you going to do?

Lainey Feingold:

I was actually thinking maybe I take a day and go to the beach.

Will Butler:

You and half of corporate America. I mean it's just-

Lainey Feingold:

Oh, I know, I'm really.

Will Butler:

[crosstalk 01:07:50]

Lainey Feingold:

I was supposed to be doing a session in the Microsoft room on Accessible Procurement that I was really looking forward to with two people from Microsoft, and someone from Fidelity, and someone from Booz Allen, and that was going to be ... I know, that was like-

Will Butler:

Another standing room only LF Legal.

Lainey Feingold:

No, no, no I was just the moderator, but it was really like a privilege for me to even be in the planning of this because these are people like actually doing the work in these big companies. Like everything else in Accessibility, it's not slapping on an overlay, it's so much detail.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Well, one sort of silver lining to this whole situation is that a lot of people who were going to do talks at this conference are now looking at doing those talks online which, again, doesn't get at that like in-person communication but at the same time opens up their talks to even broader audiences. So, I'm kind of interested to see if we end up having these like virtual like this barrage, barrage isn't the right word but like ...

Lainey Feingold:

Plethora.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

... a plethora, a cornucopia, a giant pile of cookies, of talks that people can just watch like at their own pace in the comfort of their own homes. That in itself is a cool thing that the internet has given us, is like this way for us to communicate so openly and freely with each other.

Will Butler:

I appreciate you put your slides up and just sort of like instead of having like session like people can look at, right?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I always ... I have in the past always done a very detailed post after the talks so people can read the cases I'm talking about, or look at the laws, read the press releases. I still do that but now I have a legal update tab on my website which we all know is lflegal.com, and I put things there. Now sometimes like with Domino's I just wrote about the Domino's case, I didn't wait for the Quarter to write a million words about a case.

Will Butler:

Tell us about Domino's, being like the most sort of recent, is it is most recent, high-profile example of a win for Accessibility, and what that says about where we're at right now?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, in terms of recent, in case I forget, after talking about Domino's, the settlement with Harvard and MIT on their captioning is more recent. That was just in the last ... MIT, I think, was within the last month.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Is that the one where they decided to just take down all of their media, or am I thinking of a different ...

Lainey Feingold:

No.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

... University.

Lainey Feingold:

Sad to say, that was University of California at Berkeley.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh.

Lainey Feingold:

I'm not ...

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Too close to home.

Lainey Feingold:

It's too close to home and it's too sad because they have a wonderful Accessibility, in Lucy Greco they have a wonderful person. Obviously, they weren't consulting with Lucy when they did that. So, I don't know what happened with that, but with Harvard and MIT the cases went forward. The colleges fought very hard to get the cases thrown out of court, and both of them have settled since Domino's. Not related to Domino's, just coincidentally. That's really a good place to look for best practices for captioning, especially in higher ed, but really anywhere. The National Association of the Deaf, and DREDF, and Civil Rights Education Enforcement Group, they were all involved.

Will Butler:

So, when these circuits weigh in on Accessibility, on Digital Accessibility, it's not a sweeping victory on a big Federal level but it's still super significant, right?

Lainey Feingold:

The Harvard and MIT cases they were settlements, but there were, I think, court orders to say the case could stay in court. I think we're going to see fewer companies coming in to say, "We're going to throw this case out of court," because we basically have won that argument. That was really the most significant thing with Domino's, that the Supreme Court decided not to look at one of the circuits.

Will Butler:

Maybe that explains the hike in these sort of more shallower lawsuits, because now we're at a point where if you have a suit brought you're either settling or you're losing?

Lainey Feingold:

No, I don't want to say that. I don't want to say that. I feel like I'm not quite prepared to do the legal update right here and now, but I do know that-

Will Butler:

Well, let's tell people then that. We can kind of edit that last part out.

Lainey Feingold:

No, well, it is truth. There is, like for example. I'll tell you what the case, there was a recent loss in a case in Massachusetts in the State court that an employee filed against Epic, which is this big healthcare online records company, and I think the employment cases are where we're going to see a lot of action. The employment cases tend to be real ethical, legitimate cases, because you can't go in a back room and just run a scan. You have to have an actual employee whose work is impacted, so those cases don't really have that worry like, "Oh, my god, the field's going to be taken over." Those cases are brought primarily by ethical, high ethics, Civil Rights lawyers. Epic was successful in getting that case thrown out of court on the lowest level, so it might be appealed and when I-

Will Butler:

So, is that the next frontier for digital?

Lainey Feingold:

I think employment is a big frontier. I think there's a lot more cases. There've been a lot of cases on applicant portals, the frontier to get work, the portal. Those things have to be accessible.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's amazing how many Accessibility jobs are listed on websites that are not accessible, let alone all other jobs. Every job posting should be accessible but-

Will Butler:

That's why they need them.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

The irony of, yeah.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, so I think we will see more-

Will Butler:

HRs, software.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah, all that stuff. Well, we talk about. I mean, that was one of the things I helped Disability-IN with was a successful procurement toolkit which has a lot of resources on how to make sure that when you're buying stuff for your employees, or applicants, or retirees, you know look at the whole employment cycle, you got to make sure everybody can use those things. Otherwise you end up in the situation of my favorite case, which is the lawsuit against the vendor who sold the State of California a website that cost 66 million dollars. Are you familiar with that? Because they didn't have a good procurement system that it just somehow got on live and ... I told Tim, that's Tim Elder, who's the lawyer on that case, it's my favorite case because it's so, I think it explains so much to people who don't know anything about Accessibility. First of all, it has that high price tag. Really, they paid 66 million dollars for a website, so you can get people's attention with that. Oh, how did that happen, and how can we avoid that happening in our organization?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Do you have some writing on that that we could link to in our show notes?

Lainey Feingold:

Yes.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Like a blog post about it?

Lainey Feingold:

If you search 66 million, on my website I have an article about it. It links to the cases. You can also find it on Tim's website. I like cases that can really help people understand what this is about. There's a ... I like that one.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

So on the ... Oh, sorry.

Will Butler:

Go ahead.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

On the flip side I feel like there's also been many cases recently that people who are not familiar with Accessibility like totally misinterpret. I think like the Domino's call or like Beyonce's website, people are like, "What? A blind person sued Beyonce because they couldn't see her website," and there's all these people who are like just freaking out about it who aren't getting the message. So, how do we get those folks to actually understand the nuances of these cases to understand, Oh yeah, blind people do use all the same, or at least try to use, all the same Apps and websites that the sighted person would use but-

Lainey Feingold:

I do have a post on my website about some of the comments on the Domino's case. You might want to put that up, which kind of fell into two categories, like just pick up the phone, and what's that whole argument about? And just like blind people are ordering pizzas? People don't understand it. I feel like we can't ... Some of it's messaging and how we message in making sure that people with disabilities are front and center on the messaging, because it's hard to say to someone who's actually using, "Yeah, I'm a blind baseball fan. I've been a Red Sox fan for my entire life." It's like, "Oh, I get that. That's real. I can see the person." The worst one for that now, I don't even want to say it on your podcast, is the deaf person who sued a porn website because there was not captioning on the website. That, of course, brings forth lots of comments, and jokes, and misunderstandings.

Will Butler:

The trolls come marching.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

A lot of ignorance.

Lainey Feingold:

We can't fix all that. I think we just go down like a dark hole of distraction. If we just can just not-

Will Butler:

What do they say, Don't read the comments.

Lainey Feingold:

Don't read the comments. That's probably the best.

Will Butler:

For people getting into Digital Accessibility right now who are new to this field, what would be your advice to them in terms of where to apply themselves? Are you like, do you like mentoring young attorneys? Do you think there's a lot more room for in that vein, or do you like to see young technical minds developing new approaches? Are you into perception, the marketing of Accessibility? Where do you think there's the most room for growth right now?

Lainey Feingold:

All those things you mentioned are important. I think, yeah ... I don't know about growth in economic terms. I don't know if that's what your asking. I'm not like a forecaster, or-

Will Butler:

Where can you find a job?

Lainey Feingold:

I think ... How do you tie into the community? The Accessibility meetups have always been a really good place for people coming in new and Jennison always does a good job letting everyone know where the Accessibility jobs are. I really like Teach Access that's starting at the University level, but the truth is we need somebody somewhere starting at the elementary school level, because that's where kids are learning the technology.

Will Butler:

That's a cool idea.

Lainey Feingold:

That's-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Then, we need teachers to ... It seems like we just need anyone in any kind of profession to just be rolling this into their work.

Will Butler:

Maybe it's not necessarily about diving headlong into the Accessibility field but understanding how to bring it into what you're already doing, or what you're passionate about, or interested in.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, because I wrote this book that was published by the American Bar Association, so that got me into this world of mediators and people in legal tech, which is like a whole big world. It's harder to do that kind of stuff, get our issues into fields that don't know anything about them. Sometimes I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall.

Will Butler:

Really?

Lainey Feingold:

Well, because legal tech, like there's a thing called Online Dispute Resolution. Have you ever heard of it?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

No.

Lainey Feingold:

I hadn't heard of it either, ODR. Courts all over the globe are investing in systems so that people can do legal stuff online, like small claims court or you have a dispute with your landlord.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Lainey Feingold:

There's a book called the Digital Handshake, and I've talked to that author about the importance of putting Digital Accessibility into their conversation, not that they're not thinking accessible, but they're not using it as an innovation beacon like they could. The whole thing around Online Dispute Resolution is about access to justice, A2J, #A2J, Access to Justice, kind of like [inaudible 01:21:34], kind of like 13 Letters. I'm just, wherever I see it I just have to inject, there is no Access to Justice for disabled people unless these systems ...

Will Butler:

Are accessible.

Lainey Feingold:

... are accessible. That's like one example of how whatever your world is you can be an Accessibility champion.

Will Butler:

In every world, though, these software ... Software there's this proliferation of software tools that are all coming in to try to disrupt the other one. I was just talking to a teacher last night. There's seven different tools they use for their virtual lectures. You'd think they were just using mainstream video conference software. No, no, no there's like this one and that one, and this one and that one, and all the teachers ... It's hard enough for the average user to learn how to constantly be switching between, "Oh, now we're moving to this vendor, now we're moving to this vendor." We encounter it with project management software at our ... We're switching between this new project management tool, this new project management tool. This one's supposed to be really cool. This one's got all these great features. It's in every industry right now I think. They're startups, they're nimble, they're new, whatever, and they're not often accessible. I was going to ask you earlier on, do you worry about backsliding, like where you have ... Because we have so many startups coming up now into this in the different-

Lainey Feingold:

I think it's a big problem. I think we got to get it. You shouldn't be able to graduate college without knowing what this is. I think that is a huge worry.

Will Butler:

Well, something for folks to think about.

Lainey Feingold:

Yeah. You need to teach Access on your-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

We are. We're talking with Larry tomorrow.

Lainey Feingold:

Oh good.

Will Butler:

Is there anything else you have?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, where are we on time?

Will Butler:

We're good. We're-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I got in my talk about dolphins. When you were talking about bumping your head against the wall I was, "I've seen dolphins do that." I've seen dolphins do that.

Lainey Feingold:

Now you see me, you're going to see me in a pen of water.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I know. No, but I just like ... Sorry to go back to the metaphor, but I just think it's such a ... The schools of fish. You could really expand out this metaphor about the whole sea of Accessibility and no?

Lainey Feingold:

You're the comic artist and actor.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

For like Accessibility Seattle, their mascot is the alley octopus.

Lainey Feingold:

Right.

Will Butler:

Oh, okay.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I drew their logo, too.

Lainey Feingold:

You did?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah

Lainey Feingold:

That's very good.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Anyway, but no sorry. [crosstalk 01:24:29]

Lainey Feingold:

Someone needs to write all these things, also the baking ones. There's a lot of great baking metaphors.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

My baking metaphor is the blueberry muffin of like you could.

Lainey Feingold:

The heart put the blueberries in at the end?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah.

Will Butler:

I've got an idea, but I'm not going to say it on the mic.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Okay.

Lainey Feingold:

There's some unbaked pie one, I have some unbaked pie ones I've used like the laws are like an unbaked pie, that activism and the strategies make the pie. Civil rights, there's the Civil Rights of the apples, then you have the unbaked pie which is the laws, and then to have enforcement. This is what the heartbreak to me is with unethical enforcement, that you have these wonderful laws, like the American's with Disabilities Act, or Section 508, whatever, growing allover the globe. You have some people enforcing them in a bad way, threatens the very existence of the laws that are so good.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh my goodness.

Lainey Feingold:

There's also throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh, that's a whole other-

Lainey Feingold:

I use that a lot, too.

Will Butler:

I'm going to shut this metaphor conversation down.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

My stomach is actually grumbling. I don't know if this has been comic.

Will Butler:

Lainey, thank you so much for joining us. This has been awesome.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's been great. Thank you.

Will Butler:

Really a fun conversation.

Lainey Feingold:

Well, I'm really glad to be here. Thank you so much.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thank you. I'm losing my voice. Thank you.

Will Butler:

Do you want to say a thank you?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thank you.

Will Butler:

I'll now cut it in. We'll cut it in. You can say your own version.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thank you.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

That's our show for today. Thank you for listening to 13 Letters.

Will Butler:

Thank you for being my cohost, Cordelia.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thank you. It's been a pleasure, always a pleasure.

Will Butler:

Thanks to our consulting producer, Sandy Greenspan.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thanks to Be My Eyes.

Will Butler:

You're welcome. I don't know whose else needs a thank you.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I don't know what else to say. I was supposed to thank you but I didn't.

Will Butler:

How can people get in touch?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh, people can get in touch with us by emailing 13 Letters, that's 13letters@bemyeyes.com.

Will Butler:

And we'll respond.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Will will respond.