"We might debate the merits of those laws, many of which were written for a different time, but that's for the legislatures to do, not the courts," he said. " As a result, the lawsuits against websites for discriminating against the disabled are not legally meritorious. In this case, the courts bent over backwards -- more than they should have, in my opinion -- to give Ms. Earll a chance to make a valid legal complaint. She couldn't."
That said, Goldman thinks websites should voluntarily be doing more.
"In this case, for example, it seems reasonable that eBay should have a workaround to their authentication system that works for the hearing-impaired," he said. "They may have a workaround -- the materials I've read in this case haven't been clear about that -- but the workaround should be easy enough that Ms. Earll never needed to go to court.
"Some websites may not have the resources to provide full accommodations for the disabled, but a site like eBay does -- and it should do so," he added.
eBay notes that in her complaint, Earll said company agents told her about alternative methods, including submitting proof of identity and SMS text messages, that she and other hearing-impaired people could use to become sellers.
"eBay offers solutions to help the visually and hearing impaired, individuals with color vision deficiencies, as well as those with limited dexterity access eBay's services," said Ramirez, the eBay spokeswoman. On its website, eBay has a page devoted to accessibility issues, including a profie of Rick Willison, a pastor who became a successful seller despite a degenerative eye disease.
For her part, Earll says she's willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court if that's what it takes for her to use the auction site as a seller just as easily as she's used it as a shopper.
"You know what's funny -- eBay loved me as a buyer," she said. "Oh, sure ... because they made money off of me."