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Web barrier for blind shoppers

COLES is not the first business or organisation to face allegations that its website does not suit the needs of visually impaired users.
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Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks says her office dealt with website accessibility complaints every year.

Robin Banks

According the The Age, the supermarket giant is facing a landmark claim following allegations its online grocery store does not adequately provide for visually-impaired shoppers.

Ms Banks said complaints about website suitability for the visually-impaired was a recurring issue in Tasmania, and businesses were often surprised when a complaint was made against them.

‘‘I think people don’t understand that one of the great things about modern communication technology is that people who are blind can access that information if it’s put there in an appropriate format,’’ Ms Banks said.

She said screen readers for the visually impaired were designed to read the contents of html websites, but they couldn’t read PDF files or attachments.

She said this caused problems when websites did not offer the option of a word document.

Ms Banks said internationally-recognised web accessibility guidelines made it simple to meet the needs of users with disabilities.

The Age said the Coles case could be the first action on web accessibility to go as far as the Federal Circuit Court.

A spokesman for Coles told The Age that the company would review and respond to Wednesday’s court filings.

‘‘Coles recognises and endorses the importance of online accessibility, and we are continually working to improve our online grocery shop, including improvements to the accessibility of the website,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘We work with experts in this field to make our site usable by people with disabilities.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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