You may associate auctions with objects like a 19th century inlaid mahogany Sheridan sideboard. But, a 2013 auction of 200 medallions for wheelchair accessible yellow taxis by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission almost doubled the number of accessible taxicabs in Manhattan. In addition to fine art and antique furniture, auctions also sell livestock, wine, musical instruments, industrial equipment, clothing, books, machinery, office equipment, electronics and tools. Alternative input devices facilitate participation in auctions for people with disabilities. Assistive technology includes text to speech devices, screen readers and sensory enhancers that are helpful to people with blindness, low-vision, hearing impairment and other communication disorders.
Requirements for auctioneers differ between states. Many auctioneers study bid calling and other auction techniques, but education varies. The National Auctioneers Association offers training and certification.
Auctions are held in auction houses and other venues. Commission rates vary. The “English auction” is familiar to many Americans. It involves competitive bidding on goods and property (assets) that are sold by the owner (consignor) to the highest bidder at the conclusion of the bidding period. A bid is a binding contract that obligates the bidder to buy. Some auction houses require that payment be guaranteed through money held in escrow. In traditional auction houses, assets can be inspected prior to bidding. However, there are no warranties to offer the buyer protection once a bid has been accepted.
Some auctions are held on-line in real time, a convenience for people with mobility disabilities. These auctions may be conducted entirely on internet websites that are not affiliated with recognized auction houses. Although the majority of these auctions are legitimate, online auction fraud is the basis for approximately 25% of the 70,000 annual complaints received by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Auctions hold an interesting place in the history of people with disabilities. Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a unique, accessible house for World War 11 veteran, Frank Laurent. Laurent had been injured in battle and used a wheelchair. In 2011, the Laurent House Foundation Board bought the house at auction.
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