Feeds

Disabled web access is 'being ignored'

Websites risk legal action - DRC

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Problems with WCAG

Version 1.0 of the current Web Accessibility Initiative (WCAG) came out in May 1999. Version 2.0 is currently a working draft. City University conducted its research with reference to Version 1.0 and called for the WAI to revise its guidelines to encourage a reduction in the number of links on a site and to ensure that genuine and necessary links are clearly identified as such, to preserve links to the home page, to improve search design, to eradicate excessively deep site structures, and to ensure that page titles are informative.

City University also called for elevated prioritisation of the need to ensure that foreground and background colours have sufficient contrast, the need to identify the target of each link, and the need to ensure that pages work when scripts and applets are not supported.

Lawsuits?

The DRC has decided against "naming and shaming" on this occasion. However, it made clear that it finds the current state of web accessibility to be "unacceptable".

The DRC explained:

"Our report contains a range of recommendations to help website owners and developers tackle the barriers to inclusive design. However, where the response is inadequate, the DRC will not hesitate to use its legal powers - from 'named-party' Formal Investigations which can lead to sanctions against the owners of inaccessible websites, to support for test cases brought by individual disabled people - to ensure the web becomes fully inclusive to disabled users."

DRC Chairman Bert Massie added: "The situation revealed by this investigation is unacceptable but not inevitable. The DRC is determined to ensure that this powerful new technology does not leave disabled people behind."

He continued:

"There has to be a change in approach at the heart of the Internet industry and website developers must involve disabled users from an early stage in the design process. Existing best practice initiatives such as the guidelines set down by the World Wide Web Consortium are valuable here, but as our investigation has shown, not enough to ensure genuine access to disabled users."

Massie said that raising the skills and understanding of web access by promoting a formal qualification for web designers and developers "is now an essential requirement."

Helen Petrie, Professor of Human Computer Interaction at City University, said:

"In addition to better use of the Guidelines, the most effective thing web developers can do is involve disabled users in testing their websites. This will not only improve accessibility but also usability for everyone - non-disabled users were almost 50 per cent slower when using low-accessibility websites in comparison to high-accessibility sites."

Dr Jon Dodd of usability and accessibility specialist Bunnyfoot Universality welcomed the idea of a formal accreditation process. But he warned that this "must not be a technical specification."

"It should involve actual use testing by real and representative people, including those with disabilities. The results of the DRC investigation support our experience that mere adherence to technical accessibility guidelines does not produce sites that actually work in practice," he said.

© copyright 2004 OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Masons.

Related links

UserVision.co.uk
Bunnyfoot.com
WCAG Version 1.0
WCAG Draft Version 2.0

Related stories

Germans unleash electronic guide dog
Top UK websites diss disabled
Old people need computers too
Disabled users struggle to access FTSE 100 sites
Usability - is it what we think it is?

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?