Web accessibility: why you can't ignore it anymore

Presented by: Gian Wild, AccessibilityOz
Level: Beginner
Length: Full 20 minutes

What was the web is now evolving into wearables, internet of things, data collection and machine learning. Whereas previously accessibility of online content (ensuring all digital content can be used by people with disabilities) could be tempered with offline or real-world solutions, the internet is fast turning into a system that has no physical parallels. As a result, people with disabilities run the risk of missing out entirely - on jobs, healthcare, education, entertainment and numerous other things.

Australia has always had a strong accessibility tradition, however this has not been supported by the legal system, as is the case in the United States. For example, the first accessibility litigation occurred in Australia in 2000 regarding the Sydney Olympics web site - they were found inaccessible and fined $20,000. In 2009 Target in the United States was sued and settled out of court for $6 million. The difference between settlements in Australia versus the United States is due to the concept of damages and civil penalties. Fines under Australian litigation are related only to the actual damages to the plaintiff.

With the advent of web-only technology, the potential of very large fines in Australian accessibility litigation is a real possibility. If someone with a disability cannot access a health initiative due to inaccessibility and loses their life, the fines could be in the millions.