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DIGITAL DIVIDE NARROWS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Commission Commission – General

6 September 2002

DIGITAL DIVIDE NARROWS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Industry reforms will benefit people with a disability and the wider community

Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Sev Ozdowski, welcomed the commitment made today by two significant industry players to making online services more accessible to people with disabilities. The two organizations are the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and the Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association (AIMIA).

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has been working with the Internet Industry Association since the Commission's report on Accessible E-commerce, released in 2000, identified one of the major issues in the growing 'digital divide' was access to the internet for people with disabilities and older Australians.

"The two associations have co-operated in developing an Accessible Web Action Plan which will lead to greater access to the internet for thousands of Australians and I congratulate them on their initiative," said Dr Ozdowski.

The Action Plan aims to promote the use of the World Wide Web Accessibility Guidelines as the common best practice guide for the development of all Australian websites.

"Using these Guidelines in the construction of websites will mean that blind people will be able to access information using Braille readers or voice synthesizers and others, whose disabilities make it difficult for them to use the mouse, will also benefit." said Dr Ozdowski. "I also believe that following the Guidelines will mean that organizations will be fulfilling their responsibilities to not discriminate against people with a disability under the DDA."

"It is significant that not only people with disabilities who will benefit as a result applying the Guidelines," said Dr Ozdowski, "It will have benefits for the wider community as well. Internet based systems offer government, business and educational institutions potential for substantial increases in efficiency and effectiveness of information and service provision. Making websites more accessible and more usable will increase the chances of that potential being met."

The Action Plan also commits to ensuring that industry web-based awards will require accessibility as a base criteria for eligibility.

"I am particularly pleased by the commitment to have accessibility as one of the eligibility criteria for industry awards. This will really add an incentive to organizations to do all they can to adopt the Guidelines."

For information on the Accessible E commerce report and web accessibility go to:
https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights
http://www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/webaccess/index.htm

 

Contact for interviews: Graeme Innes : 92849692 or 0412 369 963.

Last updated 2 December 2001.