Future of Web Accessibility in Canada – Judgement Amended

A further update as of 9 February 2011.

The ruling in favour of Donna Jodhan versus the federal government, in regards to inaccessible government websites, has now been amended.

The thing that stood out for me was the difference between the original court order with the five points of action with the following amendments to point 2:

2. It is also declared that the applicant’s inability to access online certain departmental websites is representative of a system wide failure by many of the 146 106 government departments and agencies to make their websites accessible. The failure of the government to monitor and ensure compliance with the government’s 2001 accessibility standards is an infringement of section 15(1) of the Charter since it discriminates against the applicant and other visually impaired persons. This declaration does not apply to stored government historical and/or archived information which is stored in a database and which the government shall retrieve and provide in an accessible format upon request;

Federal Court – REASONS FOR JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT – DONNA JODHAN verses AGC (File Number T-1190-07)

Basically, we now have a change in the number of agencies that have "failed" and, more importantly, this judgment does not apply to "historical and / or archived information stored in a database."

It’s a step in the right direction in having the Federal Government make their content and applications more accessible in the next 15 months. But, I feel that the latter amendment dilutes the spirit of the original judgment.

According to the amendment, I’m interpreting this as the Federal Government agencies not making any historical and / or archived content more accessible and will simply provide this content in a more accessible form by request.

How will this be interpreted in relation to web-related content? How will this be any different than the status quo? Sadly, I could see this being applied to all web-related content in sites and applications and I don’t see there being much of an improvement. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong.

More to come over the next 15 months as I’ll be tracking what work is being done by the different departments and agencies.

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