08 08/2008Damien Buckley Grocery website 'discriminates'

A DISABLED Brisbane man has lodged an official complaint against the Federal Government’s new grocery price watch website, claiming the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Les Kerr, 53, of the suburb of Wooloowin, is vision and mobility impaired and says the GROCERYchoice website is inaccessible. His complaint is about the difficulty in using the website.

“I have lodged a formal Disability Discrimination complaint against the Federal Government’s new GROCERYchoice website, www.grocerychoice.gov.au,” he said.

“This website has been poorly designed for disabled accessibility and is in direct breach of the Federal Government’s own Disability Discrimination Act.

“That website should be a great benefit to people like me,” he told AAP.

“As most disabled people are on pensions and money is always an issue, this website had the potential to be of great assistance to us if it had been designed correctly.

“The Federal Government has no excuse for the site not being accessible.

“It appears that the site was put together in a hurry with little thought of allowing disabled people access and most certainly was not tested by disabled people before it came online as any good website should be.”

Mr Kerr said the website failed the most basic level of the acceptable International Standards for Website Accessibility, the W3Cs WCAG 1.0 guidelines.

“Disabled people are once again put in a situation where able-bodied people are deciding what disabled people can or can’t access on the internet,” he said.

In his complaint against the ACCC lodged with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Mr Kerr lists 18 causes for complaint.

“It’s very easy to make an accessible website,” he said.

“I’m sick and tired of taking 30 times longer to find my way around a website than an able-bodied person can whip around.

“It’s the one place where able-bodied and disabled people should be equal,” he told AAP.

“I accept that I can’t read newspapers anymore … but at least if websites are designed properly I can read a newspaper on the internet.”

Mr Kerr, who has a degenerative illness, said he was contemplating further complaint’s against the Government’s websites which he says do not comply with the Act.

» Read the full article at News.com.au

Having made a cursory assessment of the Grocery Choice website, we have to agree with Les that it falls down in most respects and that not even rudimentary attention has been made to the sites’ coding compliance or accessibility.

Immediate and significant action should be taken to improve this websites’ coding and accessibility.

Update – 8/8/08 2:29pm

Further to our coverage, one of Australia’s most prominent web specialists John Allsopp has weighed in on the issue with a succinct and accurate assessment.

John notes that…

Beyond basic compliance issues, the site also uses highly problematic techniques such as

  • “Flyout” menus extensively (in truth almost universally) for navigation. These are effectively render navigation inaccessible for folks using screen magnification, and anyone with less than ideal motor skills, or people using a site in less than ideal surroundings
  • Failing to use HTML headings (screen reader software uses HTML headings to help users navigate pages)
  • Using images for text (which zooms up in size very badly, if at all, presenting serious accessibility issues for many people with less than ideal eyesight, or devices where screen magnification is important (for example the iPhone))

We would add to this list, the use of an image map on the home page and total lack of semantic markup in relation to the sites’ CSS, poor use of alt text for images and the use of tables for layout – all serious no no’s for current standards-aware web specialists.

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