23 12/2008Damien Buckley Virgin Blue to Court again for Discrimination

A Complaint by Les Kerr, 53, Wooloowin, Brisbane for Disability Discrimination against Virgin Blue over the accessibility of their various websites will be lodged in the Federal Court of Australia in the first week of the New Year.

“I received the formal notice of termination of my complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission today. This termination now allows me to start action against Virgin Blue in the Federal court.” said Mr Kerr.

“I will be seeking orders from the Federal Court forcing Virgin Blue to make their websites accessible to the disabled as required under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act or to take those websites off-line.” He said.

“In March this year, Virgin Blue launched a new website which they claimed was accessible. I went to this new website and found that it was far from accessible and advised them of this fact. They were given the opportunity to rectify these issues and they chose to do nothing. In November, 2008 a formal complaint was made to the HREOC for Disability Discrimination against Virgin Blue over the accessibility of their websites. They chose once again to do nothing to fix their websites even though they did admit that their sites do not meet the accepted International Standards for Web Accessibility.”

“A further part of my complaint was the requirement that disabled people must book all their flights over the phone while allowing able-bodied people to book on-line. They are the only airline operating in Australia that makes such a discriminatory demand on disabled Australians.” Mr Kerr said.

“It is unfortunate that Virgin Blue has chosen to take such a stand although with their track record on issues of discrimination, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. “

“What is especially sad with this issue is that it is not hard to make a website accessible to the disabled, but it is a choice. Making a website accessible to the disabled would not change the visiting experience for able-bodied people at all. For some reason Virgin Blue and many other Australian Businesses and Governments choose to deliberately disobey this Federal Law. I have yet to hear a valid reason from anyone as to why they can’t make their websites accessible… apart from the obvious that they don’t want to.

“Both Business and Government in Australia have now had 10 years to comply with the Law and make their websites accessible to all Australians not just the able-bodied. It is obvious that relying on their social conscious to do the right thing has failed miserably.”

I don’t know whether it will take one, one hundred, one thousand or more Court cases but the disabled in Australia have been ignored for too long. It is time that Business and Government start taking their legal obligations to the disabled seriously. This action against Virgin Blue is just the first, more will be following soon.” Said Mr Kerr.

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