This final blog of my three-part series on web accessibility explores the potential legal consequences of overlooking web accessibility guidelines in light of current climate in Australia.
In Australia the public sector leads the way in web accessibility, in particular, the Federal Government. However, there are still a few government entities across the country that haven’t adopted the minimum required, Level AA accessibility.
Meanwhile, the private sector continues to be more reactive, addressing the issue of accessibility only when things go pear-shaped and they are confronted with legal action. At the moment, these cases are quite often settled out of court.
The most high-profile Australian court case of recent times was in 2015 when a legally blind woman sued the grocery giant coles claiming that its online shopping service was inaccessible. This action was brought against Coles under the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (discussed on previous posts). Coles promised to rectify its site by undertaking a series of accessibility fixes suggested by the plaintiff.
I strongly believe that similar law suits will increase as internet technologies become more readily available, especially considering that there is a growing sector of the community living with a disability. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2015 one in five Australians were living with a disability, that is 18.3% or 4.3 million people. Meanwhile, there is an extraordinarily high number of websites that fail to implement even the most basic website accessibility features.
I praise the Federal Government and a handful of private organisations for taking the lead on this matter. Web companies need to follow suit.
Adopting a pro-active approach is more beneficial to everyone. All the necessary guidelines are readily available to create at least Level AA accessibility websites. Yes, creating an accessible website is hard and time-consuming, but it is the right to do.
At Edu Net Solutions, we strive to implement web accessibility on all our websites. If you need your school or business website to be designed as it should be and include all members of our society in the process, as well as moving to the next level of web development, please contact us.