10/12/2014 - 05:05

Business beware

10/12/2014 - 05:05

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Many businesses are just starting to realise just how important that statement is. For example, Coles is currently paying a high price for not having a fully accessible website.

Business beware

The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect," said Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

Many businesses are just starting to realise just how important that statement is.

For example, Coles is currently paying a high price for not having a fully accessible website. The supermarket giant being sued by a woman, blind since birth, because she can't easily use its online shopping website.

Six years ago, Giselle Mesnage registered for online shopping with Coles. She uses a screen reader, which converts text to speech.

However she soon encountered problems with the Coles website. Firstly, it could take her up to eight hours to place an order and then she wasn't able to choose a time for her groceries to be delivered.

While the delivery issue was eventually resolved, last year Coles launched an upgrade of its website and since then it's been extremely difficult for Gisele to create an order and lodge it independently

Now the Australian Human Rights Commission has taken the issue to court on Giselle's behalf, claiming that she is being discriminated against.

And if you're wondering why this matters, consider that more than 4 million Australians have a disability. Of these, 668,100 have intellectual or developmental disorders and 357,000 people are blind or have low vision and find it difficult to use the web.

The message is that a website can no longer just be an attractive marketing tool; it has to be accessible to text-based browsers, which allow people with visual impairments to surf the net and easily find your website. Making sure that your website is fully accessible is not only good business and good practice, it's the law.

Even as far back as 2000, the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games was taken to court under the Disability Discrimination Act for: not providing Braille copies of the information required by tickets for the Olympic Game; failing to provide Braille copies of the Olympic Games souvenir program; and not providing a website which was accessible to the visually impaired complainant.

SOCOG lost the case and was ordered do everything necessary to make its website fully accessible before the games started.

Tips

• Plan your structure and ensure your content and design has a logical flow.

• Don't have text in images, screen readers can't read images.

• Provide good colour contrast. Avoid lighter shades of grey, yellow and orange.

• Use capital letters sparingly, they're hard to read and can be incorrectly read by screen readers.

• Make sure your font is the right size.

As with all things, you always get what you pay for. While you might save money by having your website built cheaply, it might cost you 10 times that much in legal fees and then being ordered to bring it up to an acceptable level of accessibility.

 

Steve Harris

CEO

The Brand Agency

contact@brandagency.com.au

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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