Accessibility Laws

Gian Wild gave this presentation at the City of Boroondara council in 2015.

AccessibilityOz's Transcript:
Ok so let’s have a talk about law now. I’m going to read this loud to you because as I said 20 percent of the population has a disability. There will will be people in this room that have disabilities and some of those disabilities might be, not be able to write the screen. Individuals and organizations providing information and services via the worldwide web need to think about how they make their Web sites and other web resources accessible to people with disability. One in five Australians has a disability and the proportion is growing. The proportion is growing because the older you are the more likely you are to acquire a disability. And we have an aging population. The full and independent participation by people with a disability in web based communication and online information delivery not only makes good business and marketing sense, but is also consistent with our society’s obligations to remove discrimination and promote human rights. The provision of information and online services through the web is a service covered by the DDA, the Disability Discrimination Act. Equal access for people with disability in this area is required by the DDA where it can reasonably be provided. This requirement applies to any individual organization developing a web site or other web resources in Australia, while placing or maintaining a web resource on an Australian server. Now the term reasonably be provided is known as the unjustifiable hardship clause. So if you can prove that it will be unjustifiably hard for you to make your site accessible, then you don’t need to do it. Unfortunately or fortunately the unjustifiable hardship clause does not apply to government sites and — is seen as a government site. The other thing is that money cannot be used as a term of unjustifiable hardship. So it’s really for you Joe Blogg’s fish and chips shop that pays someone $200 to build their website and they’re never going to touch it again. In terms of the organization developing web site or other web results in Australia or placing or maintaining Web resource on an Australian server, I spent 5 years as the manager of usability and accessibility services at Monash University and they came to me and said “well we’ve got a South African campus. That South African campus has a South African Web site, the developers are all South African. It’s all maintained in South Africa, does it need to meet Australian accessibility requirements?” And the decision by myself and the solicitor was that yes it did because Monash University was an Australian institution. This includes web pages and other resources developed or maintained for purposes related to employment, education, provisional services including professional services etc etc. So it lists a whole bunch of services or administration of Commonwealth laws and programs. All these areas specifically covered by DDA. Provision of any other information or other goods, services, or facilities through the Internet is in itself a service and as such discrimination in the provision of this service is covered by the DDA. So it lists the whole thing– whole list of things and then it says anything that is not listed is also covered. So they talked about making sure accessible web content is an integral part of the web design cycle and accessibility should be incorporated in all aspects of the design process. So one of the things we are doing with city Belbin for example they’re coming up with a new Web site and we’re trying the developers that we’re reviewing designs and they’ve got an agile process as well. You know we’re sort of testing us as they need us to. While the Australian government has primary responsibility for making a Australians’ obligations, Australia’s obligations under the convention, all sections of society including industry, educational, institutions, and community organizations must play an active role in upholding the rights established by the convention. Accordingly any failure to provide full access to the Web and other Internet based technologies for people with disability may be seen as a violation of human rights. There are wide variations in the accessibility of different file formats and some formats generally considered to be more suited to a particular type of content than others. Feedback that the commission has received from users and web accessibility experts suggest that traditional HTML is the most universally accessible format. So more accessible than Word. Definitely more accessible than PDF. Other formats have advantages and disadvantages. That should be considered when deciding which format to use. For example the Atiyyah format is considered to be more generic but it is less suited than Microsoft Office Word to representing complex tables so that they can be navigated successfully by screen reading software. In general, material will be accessible to the greatest number of users when it is published in multiple accessible formats. It should also brought in mind that some content cannot be made accessible online to some people with a disability especially if it is inherently graphical in nature. Organizations that make such content available online need to consider strategies for making it accessible for example by providing text descriptions of pictorial content or using qualified contractors to produce textual maps and diagrams on request and some file formats provide mechanisms for enhancing the security of documents by preventing unauthorized editing, copying, or printing. So if there are concerns about ensuring the authenticity of material published on the web in multiple formats then a statement should be included that specifies which format is to be regarded as definitive or authorized and noting that additional formats are being provided to maximize access. They also talk about how it should be emphasized however that accessibility of web content cannot always be achieved solely through a compliance. In addition to these guidelines web designers and authors will need to make themselves familiar with a range of tools, resources, and emerging best practice solutions as they make their accessibility goals and responsibilities under the DDA and the convention. This is particularly the case in areas that are not comprehensively addressed and we can’t to, such as the needs of people with cognitive abilities. So in terms of the accessibility specialists the commission strongly encourages web designers to use expert advice and information that is up to date with web content publishing and access challenges and solutions. A number of Australian companies and organizations provide consultancy and design services with specialization and accessibility. There is currently no national accreditation system for expertise in this area so potential clients of such services should use standard assessment practices such as making with referees and examining samples of work. There are 10 common accessibility failures. In this–with these web advisory nights. Basically the most serious accessibility problems. So if you’re looking at a Web site and you don’t have a lot of time or resources, these are the things you need to make sure you get right. So failures to include appropriate text descriptions for images, failure to provide accessible alternatives when using a visual Captcha. Anyone not know what a captcha is? So a captcha is you know you’ve got a form, and then it’s got a little box with some squiggly text and it says write down what the text is. The whole point of that is to stop robots from submitting the form. They are not accessible. So you have to provide an audio file with the captcha as well. Failure to use technology such slashing javascript in ways that are accessible, failure to use HTML features appropriately to indicate content structures such as the hierarchy of headings. Failure to basically code your forms properly. Failure to ensure sufficient difference between full ground, text color and background color. Failure to code data tables with summary and caption and mark them up properly and failure to provide a way for users to disable content such as advertisements from flashing rapidly because they can trigger epileptic attacks. And failure to provide a way for users to stop a page from auto refreshing. Failure to ensure that web pages can be used from a cable without a mouse. And failure to alert users to changes on a web page that are triggered automatically when selecting items from a dropdown menu. So they are the 10 most serious ones. They’re worth handing over to developers as well. Sorry all Australian government websites should compile the timeline and conformance requirements of the national transition strategy. Whether or not they specifically mandated to do so. In particular state and territory governments are strongly encouraged to comply with the double “A” conformance level that applies to most government websites which I will talk about in a moment. Sorry. Basically accessibility has been a requirement since 2000 but compliance with we had to which is the second version of the guidelines has been required since 2010.