Weblogs: Web Accessibility

RNIB set for its first web accessibility suit

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Patrick Lauke and Accessify are quick on the ball with this scoop: The RNIB are well on the way to preparing legal action against inaccessible websites. This news is reported on the marketing orientated NewMediaAge.

From the New Media Age article:

"Although the RNIB can't release details of its action, digital development officer Julie Howell confirmed it's supporting several individuals in discrimination claims against a number of companies."

That's a clear statement that we are not looking at a single test-case here, but a series of landmark decisions that solidify the rights of the disabled to participate in an online community.

I have to admit, I have been expecting a legal suit during the course of this year, but I expected a challenge to happen after the DRC report to website accessibility was published - sometime in November.

"The DRC last year published a code of practice that made explicit reference to online services, saying that site operators failing to take disabled users into account would be in breach of the DDA."

The RNIB don't just file suits against anyone, and the process they follow is intensive and thorough.

(Admittedly learnt through a third party.) When the RNIB receive a complaint from a blind or partially sighted person about the accessibility of a website, they firstly check that their browsers and computers are set-up correctly for the user. Once that is determined, they then check the website of concern and approach the companies with advice and suggestions on improving the accessibility of the website. If that information is ignored, or the company proves unhelpful, and there's no other way only then do the legal options come into play.

I'd imagine from above, progressing to step three where a company is contacted and made aware of the problem is sufficient for most companies to start taking active steps to make their websites accessible.

The message is clear: If your website isn't accessible, don't wait until the next financial year before thinking about making plans to accessify it.

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