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CURR: BBC.com: Websites failing disabled users

From: by way of Harvey Bingham <calfieri@ROCHESTER.RR.COM>
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2004 20:04:33 -0400
Message-Id: <6.0.3.0.2.20040418195044.01d50330@pop.rcn.com>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3623407.stm

Websites 'failing' disabled users
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News Online disability affairs reporter

An investigation by the Disability Rights Commission shows that most 
websites are unusable by disabled people.

This means that many everyday activities carried out on the internet - 
booking a holiday, managing a bank account, buying theatre tickets or 
finding a cheaper credit card - are difficult or impossible for many 
disabled people.

Bert Massie, DRC Chairman described the situation as "unacceptable", and 
said the organisation was determined not to allow disabled people to be 
left behind by technology.

GOOD WEBSITE DESIGN CHECKLIST
Provide text equivalence for non-text elements
Ensure good colour contrast between foreground and background
Pages must be usable when scripts and applets are turned off or not supported
Avoid movement in pages
Avoid pop-ups and don't change window without telling user
Divid large blocks of information into manageable chunks
Clearly identify the target of each link
Use the clearest and simplest language possible

A thousand websites were tested for the survey using automated software, 
and detailed user testing was carried out on 100 sites, including 
government, business, e-commerce, leisure and web services such as search 
engines.

The results showed that the worst affected group were those with visual 
impairments.

Blind people involved in testing websites were unable to perform nearly all 
of the tasks required of them despite using devices such as screen readers.

"The web has been around for 10 years, yet within this short space of time 
it has managed to throw up the same hurdles to access and participation by 
disabled people as the physical world," said Mr Massie.

"It is an environment that could be made more accommodating to disabled 
people at a relatively modest expense."

Mr Massie warned website owners to improve accessibility or be prepared to 
face legal action.

The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act requires information providers to 
make their services accessible.

The problems most commonly encountered by the disabled website testers were 
cluttered pages, confusing navigation, failure to describe images and poor 
colour contrast between background and text.

Businesses have a social responsibility as well as a legal duty
Julie Howell, RNIB
Researchers at London's City University, who carried out the study for the 
DRC, also found that many web developers were unaware of what needed to be 
done to make sites accessible.

Government should act

Welcoming the report, the Royal National Institute of the Blind said there 
was a clear need for government to raise awareness of the issue.

"Businesses have a social responsibility as well as a legal duty to ensure 
that disabled people can use their websites," said Julie Howell, RNIB 
spokesperson.

The organisation provides advice on how to make websites more user 
friendly, and is planning a series of events to raise awareness of the 
needs of disabled web users around the UK.

There are signs that some website owners are getting the accessibility 
message.

Left-wing magazine, New Statesman, recently announced that it was making 
its web pages available as speech by using new software called Browsealoud.

The system was developed by Northern Ireland-based Texthelp Systems.

The company hopes that its system will soon be more widely adopted 
especially by government sites.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/technology/3623407.stm

Published: 2004/04/14 08:30:37 GMT

 BBC MMIV
Received on Sunday, 18 April 2004 20:08:13 UTC

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