Access all areas

It is nearly two decades since the first version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) were published. And yet major companies are still failing to take the steps required to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, and are still being sued. Minh Vu and Susan Ryan’s January 2018 article Link to other site - opens in new tab lists a number of lawsuits on their way through the US courts. Few Australian cases get as far as the courts: Gesele Mesnages suit against Coles  Link to other site - opens in new tab made it to the Federal court but was settled in 2014.

But my customers aren’t disabled…

Website accessibility isn’t just about social justice or avoiding law suits; designing with accessibility in mind provides benefits for all your clients.

In Australia, perhaps the most high-profile case to examine web accessibility remains McGuire v SOCOG  Link to other site - opens in new tab. In this landmark case, SOCOG (the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) was ordered to pay Bruce McGuire (a blind man who uses a screen reader to access the web) $20,000 compensation for the fact that their website had been constructed in a way that made it impossible for him to use certain features. Despite this cautionary tale, it is tempting for small-to-medium-sized businesses to ask whether the ‘extra’ effort is worthwhile to limit the fairly low risk of a lawsuit.

But how much extra effort is genuinely required to create an accessible website, and who actually benefits?