Weblogs: Web Accessibility

DTI: An email to my local MP

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In support of Bruce Lawson and Dan Champion's efforts to uncover how and why the DTI wasted £200,000 of tax payers money in an accessible website project that failed to deliver an accessible website, I sent the following message to my local Member of Parliament, Peter Ainsworth (using WriteToThem.com):

Dear Peter Ainsworth,

I am a web developer with a strong interest for building accessible websites, that as its point makes online services accessible to people with disabilities.

The Department of Trade and Industry recently re-launched their website after an investment of £200,000. The requirements for the site was to meet Government accessibility requirements, and yet, the site is inaccessible, and fails to meet these requirements.

Although, On Monday, 5 December 2005, Alun Johnson responded to a question from Charles Hendry to tell him "DTI follows the Guidelines for UK Government Websites which mandate Level A of the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. DTI aims to go beyond this by meeting the AA standard, along with those elements of AAA which are considered best practice."

The delivered site doesn't meet the above claims.

Two colleagues of mine, Bruce Lawson, and Daniel Champion recently contacted the Department of Trade and Industry - under the Freedom of Information Act - asking for information as to why there's been such an accessibility failure, and the plans to rectify it. But the DTI have refused to answer these questions.

This leaves us in a difficult position - the DTI have failed to deliver an accessible website, as such people with disabilities are prevented from using the online services. The DTI refuse to provide information as to how and why this failure occurred, and what steps are already in place to correct the website. Even more important - how this is going to be funded.

The 200,000 pound investment in the site came out of public money - that's money generated through taxes on people such as myself. I'm angered that this money has been spent and the requirement of an accessible website has not been met. I'm further angered that repairs to the site will come out of further public money - why am I paying the DTI twice for their website when it should have been accessible the first time?

I ask for your help to find out what went wrong at the DTI so we can ensure it doesn't happen again. I'm concerned these mistakes will be repeated many times in other government organisations, and so its important to understand what went on, and what mistakes were made.

As a tax-payer working on building accessible websites, I'm concerned that 200,000 pounds of tax payers money largely went to waste on one website. I want to do what I can to prevent this from happening again.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Davies

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