Internet Industry Association
N E W S R E L E A S E
28 August 2000
For Immediate Release
IIA Warns SOGOC: Disability Web Decision Puts Businesses on Notice
The Internet Industry Association, Australia's national body for the internet, has warned that today's Human Rights and Equal OpportunityCommission (HREOC) decision against SOCOG highlighted the need for better awareness of disability access as a mainstream internet issue.
IIA executive director, Peter Coroneos said that the SOCOG decision confirmed the view that the Disability Discrimination Act applied to the online provision of goods, services or facilities to the public in Australia, whether or not for payment. "Disability access is therefore a serious consideration for any Australian business wanting to establish a presence on the Net. Sites which targetted customers overseas might also be liable under equivalent legislation in the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere, " he said.
Mr Coroneos added "It is unfortunate that SOCOG did not, with the eyes of the world upon the Sydney games, use the official site to showcase world best practice and more fully embrace the Olympic spirit of inclusiveness."
He added, "The irony is that the W3C disability access guidelines are not onerous, nor particularly costly to comply with, especially if they are factored into the initial development specifications."
"Nowdays, all public buildings are designed with disability access in mind, and we wouldn't think twice about doing otherwise. The SOCOG issue tells us that Australian companies should adopt the same approach with their online facilities."
"Liability issues aside," said Mr Coroneos, "the good news is that sites which meet the accessibility guidelines can capture a larger section of the market. HREOC estimates that almost one in five Australians suffer some form of disability, including problems brought about by age. Well designed sites can assist those people. In addition, they are faster loading, more accessible by mobile text based internet devices and by those in areas where telecommunications infrastructure is still poor."
"All in all, you'd have to say that anyone who is going to invest in a web presence would be most unwise if they didn't optimise the site for disabled access."
Mr Coroneos said that today's
decision vindicated initiatives which have been coming out of industry
for some time, including the IIA's own disability access taskforce, which
would develop Australia's first 'Web Access Disability Action Plan'. "This
is both an awareness raising exercise and would also assist online businesses
with their own compliance assessments, so we will hopefully see less of
the SOCOG experience again," he said.
The text of the HREOC decision in MCGUIRE v SYDNEY ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES can be found at:
Modem pioneer, Dennis Hayes has written a compelling piece 'A Vision of the Web' on the need for better disability access awareness. A copy can be found at read at http://www.independentliving.org/docs5/disability-rights-A-Vision-of-the-Web.html
About the IIA
The Internet Industry Association is Australia's national Internet industry organisation. Members include telecommunications carriers; content creators and publishers; web developers; e-commerce traders and solutions providers; hardware vendors; systems integrators; banks, insurance underwriters; Internet law firms, ISPs; educational and training institutions; Internet research analysts; and a range of other businesses providing professional and technical support services. On behalf of its members, the IIA provides policy input to government and advocacy on a range of business and regulatory issues, to promote laws and initiatives which enhance access, equity, reliability and growth of the medium within Australia.
For further comment contact:
Mr Peter Coroneos
Internet Industry Association (IIA)
Phone: +61 2 6232 6900
(for TTY callers, please call 133 677
and ask for 6232 6900)
PO Box 3986 MANUKA ACT