Easton on Web Accessibility in the UK
Just out: Catherine Easton, Revisiting the Law on Website Accessibility in the Light of the UK's Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 20 Int'l J.L. & Info. Tech. 19 (2011). The abstract:
Use of the Internet has been proven to provide significant, wide-ranging benefits for disabled people research, however, such as a large scale global study commissioned by the United Nations, has determined a low level of accessibility. These findings have been supported by further multi-disciplinary work.
While in other jurisdictions there have been definitive rulings on the need for the provision of accessible websites, a UK court has yet to lay down such a duty in relation to a website. It is accepted that there are a number of wide ranging issues interacting in this multi-faceted area, such as standardisation, industry self-regulation and the determination of an international consensus on what constitutes accessible design. However, this paper will focus upon the Equality Act 2010 and the changes it makes which could impact upon the creation of a definitive precedent.
The Equality Act 2010 amended and combined pre-existing anti-discrimination provisions into one overarching piece of legislation. An analysis can be undertaken of how this legislation through its reasonable adjustment duty, public sector duty and the potential to validate regulations may be able to bring clarification in the area of website accessibility.
Furthermore, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in its Article Nine specifically applies to access to the Internet. Given the international nature of website accessibility and the innovative provisions contained in the Convention, its impact on website design and inclusion could potentially be far-reaching. This article analyses the area of website design in the light of these recent legislative developments.