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Canadian Government Loses Milestone Web Access Case

A blind accessibility consultant has won her case against the Canadian government for the lack of accessibility on its websites, the country’s Federal Court has announced.

As reported in last month’s E-Access Bulletin ( http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=508 ), Donna Jodhan sued the Canadian government after she was unable to apply for a government job online or complete an online census form without assistance from sighted government employees, arguing that this breached her rights.

Last week, Justice Michael Kelen returned a verdict in favour of Jodhan, ruling that the government had infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by failing to make its websites fully accessible, and was discriminating against disabled citizens. The government has now been given 15 months to make its websites accessible for blind and visually impaired citizens.

“I am humbled and elated that a decision has been made, and with great haste,” Jodhan told E-Access Bulletin. “The Canadian Government should not view this as a defeat but rather as one where we all get to ensure that the future of blind and sight-impaired kids will be a better one, where accessibility will be a reality. This case was never mine to win but that of our blind and sight-impaired community not to lose.”

The court’s ruling stated that Jodhan’s inability to access government information online “is representative of a system wide failure by many of the 146 government departments and agencies to make their websites accessible.”

More on the case can be found on Jodhan’s personal blog: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com/
and the blog of her accessibility company, Sterling Creations: http://sterlingcreations.ca/blog/

Comments

  1. Hugh | December 12th, 2010 | 5:48 am

    As a blind person approaching retirement I have dealt with Access problems in the workplace my entire life. We Canadians are very good at pointing fingers at the rest of the world, our American cousins in particular, but the fact is that most disabled Canadians deal with digital denies every day from business, government and the not for profit sector. Sadly, only court cases will ever lead my country into the 20th century. I am not even concerned about the 21st. century yet.

  2. P | December 13th, 2010 | 6:56 pm

    This is an area that interests me greatly (from a developers point of view). Are there any limits with how far the Government is to go with ensuring that all of their content is accessibe. Are there any ‘No-Go’ areas eg maps?

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