Weblogs: Web Accessibility

UK Government seeks accessibility prey

Thursday, February 06, 2003

NewMediaAge, a publication for marketers involved in "New Media" (ringfencer's slang for the World Wide Web) have published an article today titled: "Government gets tough over Web accessibility" where the DRC lays out the typical scenario for an inaccessible website.

If the DRC concludes that a website breaches the Disability Discrimination Act they are allowed to serve a notice ordering the website to cease operation. Failing to comply with this notice results in a court case.

The government is already pressing ahead preparing to launch its first legal crackdown, the article claims, its a matter of whether to start with individual companies or specific sectors. I wonder if a company is allowed to volunteer ;-)

There is a mention of a code of practice published by the DRC, although I won't comment too much on the irony of offering it either as a Word document or PDF download. Ooops.

Better news on my side, looks like no manager is prepared to take responsibility as the "Person that says No to accessibility", so they seem to be backpedaling. After weeks of fighting the "Well, railway stations are ignoring accessibility requirements, we'll also just gamble.", but a mere week after the dramatic downturn in the FTSE 100, this argument has been dropped faster than our share price. Although we've been asked to present business cases for applying accessibility, probably would make a change than dealing with the technical advantages of it, so something of a fresh viewpoint might be the refreshment I need to keep up the motivation.

What I've also realised is that this legal crackdown deadline isn't the only pressing concern. Sure companies may baulk at the cost needed to change a buggy Javascript-dependant website into something approaching accessibility, there is absolutely no excuse for new applications that start from today from implementing good accessibility guidelines and stick to them. I'm reminded by the Maguire vs SOCOG landmark ruling where experts testified that creating an accessible website is not significantly more expensive than creating a inaccessible one. So I do need to keep a clear separation between fixing low-quality websites and generating them correctly in the first place.

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