Feeds

Disabled web access is 'being ignored'

Websites risk legal action - DRC

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

The legal obligation

The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 states that it is unlawful for "a provider of services" to discriminate against a disabled person in failing to comply with its provisions. At first, there was some ambiguity because the wording of the Act did not specifically mention on-line services - but the consensus has long been that it could be applied to web sites.

Any ambiguity was removed by the DRC's publication in 2002 of a Code of Practice which clarified that businesses should make their web sites accessible to those with disabilities such as hearing or visual impairments.

Ignorance among developers

The investigation also found high levels of ignorance among web developers on both the steps needed and the costs of making their websites accessible for the disabled.

Researchers canvassed the views of nearly 400 website developers. The investigation found that levels of accessibility expertise amongst web developers was low, with only nine per cent claiming any accessibility expertise. Only nine per cent of developers had used disabled people to test their sites.

Among those who commission websites, the DRC found that 97 per cent of large organisations (more than 250 employees) were aware of accessibility as an important issue, and 88 per cent were aware of their responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act. But among small and medium-sized businesses, awareness of accessibility as an important issue dropped to 69 per cent and only 48 per cent reported awareness of the legal duty.

Chris Rourke of usability and accessibility specialist User Vision said the findings reveal why inaccessible sites come about. "In addition to the expected conclusion that most sites fail to achieve even the basic (Level A) level of accessibility," commented Rourke, "it shows that the misconceptions from those who commission sites often cause the issue to not be considered."

He continued: "From their discussions with website commissioners and website development agencies, it appears as if the subject is discussed but then dropped, often in pursuit of creative or aesthetic goals. However, to a disabled user, an inaccessible web site is very ugly indeed. Businesses are willingly losing the business of these users as well as risking legal action and PR problems."

The DRC is appealing to developers to involve disabled users with a range of sensory, cognitive and mobility impairments from an early stage in the design process, and asking that they do not rely exclusively on automatic testing software. It recommended that website commissioners should formulate written policies for meeting the needs of disabled people.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: Problems with WCAG

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Judge nixes HP deal for director amnesty after $8.8bn Autonomy snafu
Lawyers will have to earn their keep the hard way, says court
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.