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Olympics.com ordered to comply to access guidelines

From: Sean Lindsay <editor@disabilitytimes.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 03:09:13 +1100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <LPBBIAACGBELCIBFLDOEEEHKCFAA.editor@disabilitytimes.com>
I apologise if this post is considered off-topic, but I thought this news
would be of interest:

News.com.au - Change Games website, SOCOG ordered
( http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,1133751%255E2,00.html )

"SYDNEY Olympics organisers were ordered to make changes to their website
before the start of the Games, after the Human Rights Commission today
upheld a complaint against the site by a blind man."

And a follow-up story:

News.com.au - SOCOG won’t change Games site
"THE Sydney Olympic organisers will not change its Olympic website despite
being directed to by the Human Rights Commission today after a complaint by
a blind man was upheld."

The complaint charged that Olympics.com was not accessible to people using
screen readers, because of the usual culprits: lack of ALT text, alternative
for image maps, and use of JavaScript for navigation. This meant that Blind
users would not be able to access ticketing information, event schedules,
and the upcoming postings of event results.

The full text of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission
The decision details, among other things, the lengthy legal process used by
SOCOG to dodge responsibility for complying with Australian law. Specific
mention is made of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines.

Background information on the complaint:

ZDNET Australia: Olympics Web site riddled with blind spots (9 August)
"Organizers claim there's no time to make the official Web site of the 2000
Sydney Games accessible to everyone. One man insists that's not good enough.
Organizers of the Sydney Olympics fought to prove the Games' official Web
site does not discriminate against the vision-impaired during a lengthy
examination of the site at a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
hearing on Tuesday."

ABC News Australia: Interview with [complainant] Bruce Maguire (Transcript)
"SOCOG is familiar with Bruce McGuire. Last year he forced them, through the
courts, to print a ticket booklet in Braille. Now all he wants is to be able
to enjoy the Olympics as thoroughly as possible with all the information at
his fingertips."

HREOC: World Wide Web Access - Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes
"Provision of information and other material through the Web is a service
covered by the DDA.  Equal access for people with a disability in this area
is required by the DDA where it can reasonably be provided. This requirement
applies to any individual or organisation developing a World Wide Web page
in Australia, or placing or maintaining a Web page on an Australian server."

Obviously this news has enormous implications for websites developed in
Australia, and given the extraordinarily high profile of the Olympics.com
website, I'm sure the ripples will cross the big pond.


Sean Lindsay
Received on Monday, 28 August 2000 12:10:02 UTC

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