Why a Brisbane Man’s Crusade May Change Your Website’s Design

We have posted various topic on accessibility in the past, ranging from the benefits to the necessary guidelines. Another important topic we’ve covered in this area is the legal ramifications for not meeting the guidelines outlined by the Federal Disability Discrimination Act and other legislation addressing accessibility standards.

Unfortunately, accessibility is a topic few sites administrators take serious despite prior lawsuits awarding monetary damages and other unfavorable outcomes. One such example occurred in 1999 when Bruce Maguire filed a complaint concerning the web site of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games being inaccessible to the blind. In 2000, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission fined the SOCOG $20,000 and ordered an overhaul of the site.

While this decision initially resonated with businesses and organizations the reality of legal action has been long forgotten by many. However, a new discrimination case has just been filed in Brisbane that is sure to bring this topic center stage once again.

Les Kerr, who suffers a visual impairment, has mounted a growing effort to bring this issue to light. He has reportedly reviewed approximately 30,000 websites to test for accessibility. His findings so far have been sobering with only about 1 percent of sites meeting accessibility guidelines. He cites poor colour contrast as a top complaint.

Due to the breadth of this issue, Mr. Kerr has decided to challenge high-profile companies to raise awareness. He has since filed a claim against the airline Virgin Blue which will be heard in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane on January 28th. He also plans to file claims against Yahoo, the ACCC and the Seven Network in the near future.

While this may seem like a business issue, My Kerr is also targeting government sites who many would expect to prioritize the needs of the disabled. He recently lodged a formal complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission over A Tourism Queensland website. He further alleges that the Prime Minister's website doesn't comply with accessibility guidelines.

No matter what the outcome, Mr. Kerr’s campaign is sure to get the attention of business and government sites both large and small. If you are interested in learning more information on accessibility guidelines and best practices, Vision Australia, provides a wealth of information in their resource library.