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Archive for July, 2008

Disability Body Blasts EU Anti-Discrimination Draft

A draft anti-discrimination directive from the European Commission has been criticised by a major disability lobby group for failing to cover technology accessibility standards.

The commission’s proposal, ‘Non-discrimination and equal opportunities: a renewed commitment’, deals with discrimination against people on the basis of disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation and covers non-employment areas such as education, social security and health care (see

In a statement European disability Forum (EDF) President Yannis Vardakastanis said the draft directive omits “important issues for persons with disabilities as the concept of universal design, the necessity of European and national accessibility standards and the right to services ensuring inclusion.”

In addition the document “leaves room for interpretation and will create legal uncertainties”, Vardakastanis said (see

The EDF was created in 1996 to give a voice in the European Union to Europe’s 50 million disabled people (

Charity Launches Manifesto for Digital Inclusion

More help is needed to ensure the ‘struggling seventh’ – the most disadvantaged 15 per cent of UK society – are reached by the benefits of the information society, according to a ‘Digital inclusion manifesto’ published by specialist consultancy humanITy (

Contrary to expectation the so-called ‘digital divide’ has compounded exclusion among vulnerable groups, and while a lot of resources have been directed towards the improving the access of the ‘final third’, there is still more to be done for the most disadvantaged groups, the manifesto finds.

News Focus – Public Sector Web Accessibility Guidelines: Buried Sticks And Mixed Messages

The new guidelines for UK public sector bodies on ‘Delivering inclusive websites’ (see E-Access Bulletin, June 2008) are a bewildering blend of the vague with the Draconian.

The guidance, published by the Central Office of Information (COI) under the reference number ‘TG102′ (See,stipulates that all new UK public sector websites must conform to at least ‘AA’ accessibility standards as specified by the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Existing central government department websites must conform to ‘AA’ by December 2009. “This includes websites due to converge on Directgov or BusinessLink, unless convergence is scheduled before this date,” the guidelines state. Sites of all other government agencies and non-departmental bodies must conform by March 2011.

British Standard for Web Access ‘Aimed At Marketers

The forthcoming British Standard for accessible websites, BS8878, is to be aimed at marketing departments of major retailers and suppliers of consumer goods and services, it has emerged.

At an open planning meeting hosted this week by the British Standards Institution (BSi –, the committee charged with producing the standard consulted a range of other academic and technical bodies to ensure the new work will not repeat orĀ  Compete with other guidelines.