In a recent article e-Government, public services and older people by David Sinclair, Senior Policy Manager at Help the Aged writes:
“The first challenge is one of accessibility. It is an absolute scandal that significant numbers of public websites are still not meeting basic accessibility standards. Recent research for the Cabinet Office as part of their e-accessibility project, has highlighted that only 3% of European public websites meet the WC3 web content accessibility guidelines. 70% completely fail; 17% partially fail and only 10% limited pass. This is despite the fact that inaccessible websites potentially breach the Disability Discrimination Act.”
This a very good point. But this applies equally to the private sector. The UK Government is at least attempting to follow guidelines. I would hazard a guess that the statistics would be significantly worse in the Corporate sector.
The DDA is a wide-reaching Act and it is no surprise that there has never been a test case in relation to websites. “Potentially breaching” is just not good enough. The Disability Rights Commission and the RNIB have even gone as far as issuing their own recommendations.
Furthermore the forthcoming WCAG 2.0 update is so confusing that it has led many developers to reject it. If this is to be the basis for the future of Accessiblity then the average developer is going fall short.
Yes - it is a scandal that public sites are inaccessible but with a lightweight legal framework and a confusing recommendation paper to base it on it is no surprise that public sites are failing.
David Sinclair calls on the industry to respond and I accept that. To some extent the industry already has groups that could work with the Government to implement a workable plan. The Web Standards Group exists to (amongst other things) promote best practices in Accessibility. The Web Standards Project also exists to promote access to the web for all. So who phones who first?
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