By Majeed Saleh and Dan Jellinek
For years the web accessibility community has been waiting for clear legal precedent to be set enforcing the accessibility of websites for people with disabilities, but to date the wait has gone largely unrewarded.
The ruling cited most often dates back to 2000, when blind web user Bruce Maguire won 20,000 Australian Dollars from the organisers of the Sydney Olympics for failing to address the inaccessibility of the games’ website (for case details see contenu.nu/socog.html and E-Access Bulletin back issues including August 2008). But the ruling was that of an equal opportunity commission rather than a full court, and has little resonance outside that country.
Since then, a series of cases brought in the UK and elsewhere have been settled out of court with payments made to plaintiffs, often in secret. Such settlements are frustrating: for while it is understandable that complainants, many of whom are people with disabilities, are inclined to accept offers of financial compensation in return for dropping their claims, only completed court cases can set a legal precedent.