We all have a fair idea what web accessibility is. It’s that whole ‘web standards’ thing, the whole ‘better code’ thing, etc. We’re quick to put it in terms of technical code and even design, but what is it according to Australian Law? I thought I would do a quick study on what the legalese spin on web accessibility is in our country.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 doesn’t specifically state anything whatsoever to do with the web. That’s what happens when you have laws written in 1992, way before what most people would consider the popular introduction of the internet in Australia. That’s cool, because we still have laws going further back, so it isn’t a complaint.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission website has two good pages on accessibility for the web, according to Australian law. These are the well written World Wide Web accessibility and World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes pages.
Neither of which really give me any ammunition to discuss with my clients and colleagues how to avoid legal ramifications, such as Bruce Lindsay Maguire v Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, AKA the ‘famous SOCOG website case’.
There’s even a handy email template for making a complaint about an inaccessible website on the Blind Citizens Australia website. They even have an Eight Steps to Web Accessibility page, which is not bad reading.
Seems that besides a few dozen sites, both government and NGO, linking to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and giving their own versions of what these mean, there’s nothing overly concrete to say this is what a website needs to do/achieve in order to meet their legal obligations.
Am I wrong? All help warmly received.
Photo: DSS-43 at Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.