Business Case legal factor?

This is quite different to what's been done so far I think, so the
explanation's rather long-winded....

Recently I was did some consultancy for a savings bank regarding a web
application for managing an personal stock portfolio. Not surprisingly it
relied heavily on HTML forms. The idea was to make it usable with screen
readers and voice browsers (i.e., JAWS and HPR).

While I was reviewing the pages with the developers I wondered whether any
blind user would be so foolhardy as to use such an application to trade
stocks, even in it did appear to be useable with voice access. Any wrong
choice could cost the user very dearly. Using the application would be far
more risky than most investments.

With so much online stock trading and banking being done these days, I
wonder whether the financial institutions have considered their possible
legal liability for forms that work wrongly in a particular browser. There
seems to me to be an assumption that the form will be usable correctly, and
will not lead the user to perform an erroneous transaction. This is obvious
for example, with a list of radio buttons with the label before each
control, where the voice browser user would select the wrong option, perhaps
erroneously buying a stock instead of selling it. It could also happen that
a visual browser using CSS positioning could visually align the label with
the wrong control.

If the forms conform to the relevant standards (HTML, CSS, WCAG checkpoints
10.2, 12.4 for example) the company has some kind of defence/defense. If
don't, who is to say who is wrong, the developer who only checked visually
with you-know-what-browser, or the user with disability and an exotic user
agent. I appreciate that W3C standards are not legally binding, but not to
is surely negligent.

Looked at in this way, conforming to WCAG could be a legal defence, and
could be included in a business case.

Alan Chuter

Received on Saturday, 31 May 2003 15:42:25 UTC