The Canadian Federal Government is appealing against the recent court ruling which branded its websites not fully accessible to disabled citizens and ordered it to remedy the problem.
As previously reported in E-Access Bulletin ( see issue 132: www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=511 ), Donna Jodhan, a blind accessibility consultant, successfully sued the government over the inaccessibility of its websites after she was unable to apply for a government job online or access certain other information.
In December, a judge ruled in favour of Jodhan, finding the Canadian Government had infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by failing to make its websites fully accessible.
The government is now appealing against this ruling, claiming that the judge exceeded his jurisdiction in finding a “system-wide failure” of government through its websites, when it was only Jodhan who was proved to be directly affected. The government is also claiming the judge “erred in law” by ordering it to ‘remedy’ the websites of 146 government agencies, when only 106 agencies used the website guidelines (‘Common Look and Feel Standards 1.0’) which were found to provide inadequate accessibility.
A hearing for reconsideration filed by the Canadian Government will take place on 8 February via a video conference. “We are still awaiting their official documents to see exactly what they are appealing but it appears that they are appealing the judge’s entire decision,” Jodhan told E-Access Bulletin.
Jodhan, who will be opposing the appeal, told E-Access Bulletin that it was “very sad and disappointing” that the government had chosen to take this course of action. “When the Canadian Government decides to waste more precious taxpayers’ funds and time fighting something that they should have been addressing all along, what does it really say? The longer they take to start working with us to fix this problem, the longer it would be before we can look forward to having accessibility become a reality” she said.
It is currently unclear whether the government will be making any of the ordered changes to its websites before the appeal.