Published on June 24, 2005

Accessibility and the law

Hey, this post is vintage content. It dates back more than 19 years ago: it may contain outdated and inaccurate information.

An interesting discussion is going on online about how the law should approach the accessibility of websites.

The discussion was sparked by an article by Andy Clarke. This is the point around which his argument revolves:

[...] it is not the role of government, but the role of managers to determine the policies which best suit the needs of those organisations and their customers. Web accessibility is also relative and as such cannot be governed or legislated for. Achieving more widespead accessibility is better served by not making this a subject for legality.

The topic was taken up a few days later by Andy Budd who thinks otherwise:

I would love to live in a world where everybody acted in a socially responsible way. However the reality is we need to have legislation to help enforce equality in the cases where social, commercial or political pressure alone aren't enough.

And also by Pieters Veerle who says:

In my opinion the role of the government should be an educational one.

Pieters recounts, among other things, his astonishment at discovering that the site of the small town where he lives has been certified as accessible by BlindSurfer, but is barely accessible (and usable) for a able-bodied user.

The website of the small town of the town of the city of the city was certified as accessible by BlindSurfer, but is barely accessible (and usable) for a able-bodied user

Making the discussion even more interesting? the (precise and clear) answer given to Pieters by an accessibility consultant of BlindSurfer, who explains that Deinze's site is indeed navigable by a blind person, but that this does not guarantee that it is accessible to anyone at all.

The two Andy and Andy's opinions are not only very interesting, but also very interesting

The opinions of the two Andys come from England. From Belgium that of Pieters. And in Italy? Even if the discussion on the obligation of legal accessibility of websites might seem already outdated (soon the guidelines with the technical requirements for the application of the Stanca Law will arrive), the spaces to meditate on the topic and understand exactly how to realise accessibility are still vast: relying on the law is only the beginning. The next and most delicate step will be to ensure that the law is understood and positively received by those who work on the web every day



June 15, 2005

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