Feeds

back to article Start the clock! Public sector web MUST be disabled-friendly by 2015

Public sector organisations will be required to ensure that disabled users of their websites have the same access to certain content and services as other internet users by the end of 2015 under new European Commission proposals. The Commission said that more than 100 million EU residents would benefit from the rules it has …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Anonymous Coward

Driving licences?

Um... Do we really need web accessibility measures for driving licence applications??

2
7

Re: Driving licences?

I don't know. Can you think of any disabilities that might make reading a website difficult, but not make you an unsafe driver?

If yes, then yes.

2
0
Bronze badge
WTF?

Re: Driving licences?

How would they know if they can apply, what the rules are, etc. if they can't access the website in the first place?

In other words, of course we need web accessibility measures.

7
0
Bronze badge

Re: Do we really need web accessibility measures for driving licence applications??

A dyslexic or illiterate person.

A technophobe with a partner who isn't but has poor eyesight.

It would be nice if they pushed for w3 compliance as a recommendation, as well as no requirement for javascript.

(Though I must say, I make a point of trying UK government sites with Netsurf and they usually work fine.)

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Driving licences?

Only thing I can think of, is colour blindness.

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Driving licences?

This anonymous comment is typical of the able-bodied response to disability - we simply don't think about what it's like to live a live where our senses and abilities are limited in some way. It's not that the post has no compassion, it's simply that they have never experienced being disabled.

One of the more interesting side effects of disabled accessibility is that in a great many cases, making disabled access a priority works very well for able bodied people too - it's something that we all benefit from - think wheelchair access kerbs and slopes, taps and soap dispensers that work automatically, doors that can be opened with a push, lights that that turn on and off with a tap.... we all benefit when we take care of our brothers and sisters.

7
0
Silver badge
Alert

Re: Driving licences?

- A vision impaired parent interested in knowing rules and regs applicable to their sighted child?

- A person with poor reading skills, but reasonable spoken word ability

- A vision impaired student/teacher researching licensing Info

- A person with poor vision contrast

- A person who needs text to be magnified beyond the usual standard

The list goes on and on.......besides, it's simply the right thing to do.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Driving licences?

Of course. Why do you think drive-through ATMs have braille keypads? :)

(on a more serious note, as I have worked with sight-impaired people I sort of made that a default aspect of websites I make for my business - more "the decent thing to do" than "I have to because it's the law")

0
0

Re: Driving licences?

An example, from my early days making internal Government systems more accessible, is severe RSI; although often not severe enough to warrant appearing on the Register of People with Disabilities.

Often users would struggle to use a keyboard or mouse for any length of time, but could sucessfully use voice recognition software to input data and control applications.

A badly designed form where you couldn't tab between fields or select options using the first letter of the name was nigh impossible to use with voice recognition. A little pressure from their unions, and *a lot* of resistance from a well known blind MP at the time, and I was called in to fix it!

Needless to say the RSI would not have prevented any of them from driving!

1
0

This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Re: Driving licences?

@Rufus

I'm glad you mentioned voice recognition. As it stands this proposal is really, really poor. Section 3.4 article 4 explicitly says "These technology neutral specifications..." but Article 3 Para 1 (i.e. the main guts of the proposal) - is specific to websites.

What if I, as the solution designer, decide that the best way to cater for blind users is to provide a telephone interactive voice system (with 100% functionality) and the best solution for other users is a website (with the same 100% functionality). Under this proposed legislation I can't do that -- apparently I *must* also make the website accessible to blind people.

A far too narrow a definition of "technology neutral" in my opinion.

2
0
Facepalm

cheaper?

Kroes said. "This proposal would make that right a reality, and not just an idea. It would create better market conditions, more jobs, and make it cheaper for governments to make their websites accessible."

Hogwash. While it may be an admirable goal, pretending that it isn't going to cost an absolute stinkload of taxpayer cash to implement is delusional.

6
2
Bronze badge

Re: cheaper?

Well, that's Steely Neelie for you. No amount of Other People's Money is too much when you're Doing Good, and when you work for the EU, then of course your'e doing good.

4
1
Bronze badge

Re: cheaper?

It's probably cheaper to build a w3c compliant accessible site in the first place, than some of the messes that are out there.

But fixing them? Probably better to start from scratch.

It would have been better to have mandated that all *new* work to be up to scratch, a while ago. (New sites, and new pages on existing sites.)

3
0
Gold badge

Re: cheaper?

Actually, this one has been hanging around for quite a while in various disability laws.

If you really *need* another argument, making a site accessible for people with impaired vision tends to result in better mobile accessibility too..

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Bring it on

if it finally pushes people to abandon whizzy flash non-W3C compliant websites with yellow-on-white text that only work in IE (6) then <Al Pacino>Bring it on</Al Pacino>

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Bring it on

if it finally pushes people to abandon whizzy flash non-W3C compliant websites . . .

Websites that display right away and can be read? It'll never catch on.

9
0
WTF?

100 meeeeellion?

So they are saying that like 1 in 5 or 6 are disabled? That seems like a high number to me :/

5
1
FAIL

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

You don't have to be in a wheelchair to be disabled.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

For accessibility purposes, "disability" can include being colour-blind (which affects a substantial number of people to some extent, but wouldn't generally preclude driving). It wouldn't surprise me if one in six had at least some minor impairment of that sort.

At first glance the "disabled access to driving licence renewals" might seem funny, but my grandfather is disabled (knee injuries from a car crash in 1981 mean he can't walk far, particularly now he's 88!), but can still drive - indeed, living outside a city a mile from the nearest bus stop, he *needs* to drive. Now, mandating that the driving licence site work with Braille readers would indeed be a bit silly (like the train lavatories with a little yellow light, "door locked when lit" - in Braille as well as print), but most aspects of accessibility are still very much relevant.

If it means fewer Flash-heavy, light grey on dark grey tiny-print websites that don't work properly on modern browsers, I'm all in favour - though I thought government websites had to be disabled-friendly anyway?!

2
0

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

Elderly counts in this context.

1
0
Bronze badge
Happy

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

The knee injury you speak of; what accessibility technology will help people with that disability with a website?

The problem/joke isn't that disabled people can't drive, it's that generally the same things that stop people accessing the driving licence renewals site would also stop them from driving.

Someone else posted a the more sensible counter-example of colour blindness, which does work.

1
0
Gold badge

Re: you don't have to be in a wheelchair

Indeed you don't, but neither would being in a wheelchair stop you using a website. The claim is that 100 million people are limited in their access to government websites and that these people would be less limited if the measures were in place. (Implicit in that is the claim that the limitation is sufficiently large that you can measure it.) That does seem to be stretching a point and makes it far more likely that the average able-bodied person will just decide that you are taking the piss.

It is counter-productive to oversell the need for accessibility.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

I guess this number may count Facebook users as having a degree of impairment.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

He used to be an adventurer...

(ducks to avoid arrows)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

(ducks to avoid arrows)

Probably better off jumping?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 100 meeeeellion?

When the web-disability access issue first cropped up in UK loads of disabiliy "experts" popped up telling web site owners that a quarter of UK population was disabled and if they didn't stump up to get their web site rebuilt to be compliant they'd be facing massive fines. Their proposal also suggested that "by locking 25% of the UK out of your web site you are missing out on 25% of your potential income". And by the way, their proposed "fix" was usually to make the site usable by blind people. A charity representing the blind was, for a while, offering to "check your website for visually impaired access issues" for GBP35 a page. The stats for blind people are themselves misleading as many nominally blind are in fact partially sighted and needs differ. Just a large miscreen or screen magnifier may be enough.

The only conclusion I could draw from the 25% figure was that the definition of disability was very wide, maybe my need for glasses renders me "disabled" in their terms.

Suppose we assume that the EC 1 in 5 figure has some basis then lets consider the breakdown of those disabled persons.

How many are disabled in a way that doesn't affect their ability to use the internet? Lower limb disability perhaps?

How many are disabled in such a way that the internet is a complete irrelevance to their life, severe mental impairment maybe, the deaf (yes I know you can point to online videos with speech audio and ask for subtitles... what about those deaf and blind?)

How many are disabled in a way that could be better addressed by improved browser/operating system disability aids? And why the focus on web access what about other computer apps?

Doubtless this posting will be regarded as "anti-disabled". Well no it's against reactive ill conceived, reactive legislation the only benefit of which is to be seen to be doing something for a minority at little cost to government whilst imposing massive costs on web site owners who will gain approximately zero benefit.

0
0
Joke

In other news...

The rate that this lot are going, there will be no public sector by 2015...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Theres a law for that

Several years ago, an accident left me with strongly impaired vision. Fortunately for me, over two years my vision eventually returned to average for my age so I've first hand experience of problems using poorly designed websites and even now when I visit such a website it sets off a warning bell. Not being a money grabbing type, I didn't register as disabled though I would have qualified. I have met people who like me were temporarily affected, went on benefits and continue to claim even though the 'disability' is no more. Its factors like this that make it hard to find reliable statistics. In fact 'disability' is a pretty useless term, the EU would be better focussing on specific points such as the much more well defined issue of making sites accessible to people with various levels of visual impairment rather than hanging it under the umbrella of disability.

This kind of announcement brings to mind the saying 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. The EU is always identifying issues and making laws and regulations because that is what they do. It appeals to the bureaucratic mind and the centralist mindset. It also appeals to the self-serving attitude in much of European government. It is often exactly the wrong way to help people.

As an expert in UI/UX design and development, after my accident I took a look around what was happening in the area feeling I could make a worthwhile contribution. Theres one hell of a lot that could be done in practical terms to help people evaluate their websites and apps for accessibility, design guidelines for website developers. Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are actually very receptive to these issues. It was all a mess then and apparently the same now. Theres one hell of a lot that could be done by simply funding some initiatives and projects at a very modest cost and we don't need regulations and stuff to do that. Just a genuine commitment from those who hold the purse strings to help people who want to do something about it for reasons beyond wealth and profit.

Technology moves quickly too, another reason not to try to fossilize the situation today in law. We don't need Brussels to get involved in this with yet more laws that nobody knows they are breaking.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Theres a law for that

"accessible to people with various levels of visual impairment rather than hanging it under the umbrella of disability."

The problem with that is that someone comes along that has something that they didn't think of in the specific list of things and nobody has to do anything about it. It's not just visual impairment either. Someone with hearing difficulties wouldn't be able to detect audio cues (although any web site relying on sounds is somewhat weird anyhow, but hey), someone with carpal tunnel syndrome won't be able to click a lot, someone might have a special input tool because they can't use a regular keyboard and mouse, things like that. Being able bodied it's unfortunately very very difficult to appreciate all the different things that can make life a true misery for disabled people through no fault of their own.

0
0
Mushroom

Not just for the public sector?

Interestingly, it seems that this will be married to the European Accessibility Act which will legislate for private sites -

"This EAA (...), by focusing on the private sector, will facilitate the realisation of the full web-accessibility commitment of the Digital Agenda for Europe, by ensuring also the accessibility of private-sector websites.

1
0
Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Not just for the public sector?

I wonder if this will lead in turn to personal web sites. This would be somewhat excessive, but I can see the more militant disability groups, backed by the usual Politically Correct suspects will wave around 'human rights' and you'll end up with a really bad piece of unnecessary legislation.

I'm always wary when governmental organisations legislate on things like this, even with the best of intentions - it's a form of back-door censorship - you can only put something up if it fits THE STATES criteria. Something about the road to hell being paved with good intentions here leaving an unpleasent taste in my mouth.

Paris - because I'm sure she's got disabled access...

1
1
Stop

Re: Not just for the public sector?

The way you're carrying on anyone would think it was hard to do an accessible site. Really, it isn't.

Granted the W3C haven't helped much with the latest accessibility guidelines: the version 1.0 ones were much more clear and concise, and could be summarised in a simple checklist.

Most of this stuff is basic good design or UI design, eg making sure the text is large enough and has enough contrast, avoiding things which flash or move about, making sure you use ALT text for images, including using empty ALT tags when the image is just eye candy that conveys no information etc. Using headings properly and meaningful link text (eg no"click here" nonsense) is also just good practice/style anyway.

As others have pointed out, well designed accessible sites also tend to work better on mobile devices (without the need for a separate mobile site), so it tends to be win-win all round, apart from for some designers who are addicted to miniscule text and colour schemes with inadequate contrast.

0
0

Keyboard only..

I've always wondered how keyboard-only navigation is an accessibility aid?

I mean.. yes it makes a website easier to use but.. not in such a way that allows someone to use it when they wouldn't have been able to before, unless they somehow can work a keyboard but not a mouse and I can't imagine why that might be. Anyone?

Does this also mean that CSS Aural is going to actually get used now?

Anywho I recently applied for a passport using the online thingy and to be honest, it was actually really good, although at first going to www.gov.uk as opposed to something.gov.uk at first threw me!

Although some wording on the site is a little bit iffy.

Clear wording should be a part of accessibility, being easily befuddled is a real disability!

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Keyboard only..

If you lack fine motor control (e.g. early Parkinsons) handling a mouse can be quite impossible, but a standard keyboard would be no problem at all, nor would grabbing a stonking great steering wheel.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Keyboard only..

Another reason might be that many alternative input methods like speech recognition or even those single-button interfaces for nearly paralyzed people can simulate keyboard input easily enough, but controlling a mouse pointer is much harder.

0
0
Trollface

Does this mean...

...that I get a ramp to access my desk?

1
0
Bronze badge

I'd be happy if the HMRC would allow me to actually enter normal english when I submit my tax return. Such unlikely constructions as: 40% of the income from 14-16 South Street.... is flagged as "illegal characters entered".

1
0
Anonymous Coward

"Illegal characters" entering 14-16 South Street?

Yeah, it knows about those immigrants hiding out.

3
0
Bronze badge

Why did they stop at public sector websites?

After all, if it is a Good Thing (tm)...

Otherwise, it's just a bit like demanding disabled toilets, but only in state owned buildings.

0
0

ATOS

the way ATOS is going there won't be anymore disable left in the UK

2
0
FAIL

"certain content and services" so about as much use as today's laws then, so many loop holes, its not even worth looking at :( sigh!

0
0
Silver badge

disabled-friendly?

Does that mean I Disabled My Javascript And The Site Still Works? That would be nice.

2
0
This topic is closed for new posts.