Accessibility: January 2011 Archives

Accessibility Lawsuit Against Canadian Government

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We are sadly in a season of accessibility lawsuits. One notable challenge was filed by an accessibility activist against the government of Canada, but a Canadian federal judge ruled that all online national government services in Canada need to be made accessible to all users.

An interesting note is that the government had argued that certain services did NOT need to be accessible as long as there were other options available (e.g. via phone, in person or other paper forms). However, this was still not considered equal access. On a side note, I would agree because other options are either more restricted in hours of availability and/or require more processing time than an online method would.

Ironically though, the government is appealing the decision, apparently on technical grounds, despite developing a fairly rigorous national accessibility standard several years previously.

Obviously, we're in the middle of our own lawsuit maelstrom here, and ironically, it has been difficult to comment publicly on that. For the record though, even though these actions are pushing us to focus more on the issue, I am not "happy" to see these lawsuits being filed, if only because it raises so much panic and ill will. I wish the system could find a better way to implement accessibility before the customer becomes so dissatisfied.

And yet, I cannot deny that I have enjoyed the benefits of ramps, elevators and closed captioning in crowded bars. And yes, most of these were brought to us courtesy of similar legal actions (sigh). I think we will see a day when we couldn't imagine videos without captions or appreciate being able to disable a plugin like Flash and still know what it was supposed to be.