[LINK] Call for disabled internet revolt - UK
jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Sun Mar 12 09:22:23 EST 2006
More on UK accessibility reactions.
>Call for disabled internet revolt
>By Mark Ballard
>The Register (UK), March 10, 2006
>Being nice has achieved little
>The Disability Rights Commission plans to call upon disabled internet users
>to rise up against inaccessible website owners and help it take complaints
>with the force of law.
>The rabble-rousing message will be broadcast by the DRC following the launch
>of new guidelines to amend what it says are limitations in the WAI
>accessibility standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium .
>Threats to website owners accompanied the DRC's first notable publicity
>grab, marked by the publication of its formal investigtion into web
>accessibility two years ago.
>"We are serving notice that the Disability Rights Commission will use all
>its powers to secure compliance on this very important matter," warned DRC
>commissioner Michael Burton at the time, while his lawyer said those who
>refused to settle out of court would be "pursued all the way".
>But the warning has never been honoured, even though a high profile court
>case would do wonders for its cause. Six years since the Disability
>Discrimination Act made it illegal to produce an inaccessible website in the
>UK, the laws have gone limp through disuse.
>Even the Royal National Institute for the Blind, which has been more
>diligent in its pursuit of ignorant web owners, has only brought legal
>action against two sites, and both of those cases where settled out of
>The problem is that the campaigners need disabled people who are prepared to
>complain and bring action with their assistance. The DRC gets around 2,000
>calls a week, but very few complaints. Most calls are pleas for advice and
>help. The commission reckons that when disabled people come across
>inaccessible sites they usually just move on to one they can use.
>Without disabled people prepared to challenge the establishment in the
>courts, the DRC can do little more than provide advice and guidelines. But
>the marketing for its latest latest publication will include a call for
>disabled people to complain about offenders so it can take action against
>"It will be a part of our marketing to encourage people to ring us and
>complain," a DRC spokeswoman said today.
>Of course, corporations and public sector organisations are easily
>embarrassed into making their sites accessible, as many already have. And
>few are likely to want to commit commercial suicide by making a bigoted
>stand against accessibility in the courts.
>Then the educational work of the DRC does help. The criticism in its formal
>report that the WAI guidelines were too technical has been followed up with
>the launch this week of its own code, which recommends adhering to WAI
>standards, but provides further advice on non-technical issues such as
>This could be useful, as 80 per cent of developers told the DRC that their
>clients were not interested in building accessible sites.
>Most notable is the guide's insistence that the automated testing most
>website owners do to ensure accessibility is inadequate. The DRC asserts
>that it is vital that disabled people are used to test a site.
>Its new guidelines have been developed in conjunction with the British
>Standards Institute, so have some significant kudos. That does mean,
>however, that it costs #30 to acquire them and the price does not include a
>kite mark that considerate site owners can use to display their credentials.
>Yet the softly-softly approach appears to have achieved little. The DRC
>revealed two years ago that 81 per cent of websites were inaccessible. They
>still are, it says. .
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com - http://www.janwhitaker.com
Personal stuff: http://member.melbpc.org.au/~jwhit/
'Seed planting is often the most important step. Without the seed, there is
no plant.' - JW, April 2005
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