Many countries in the world require that public sector web sites be accessible. We all know that despite this requirement many of these public sector web sites don’t meet these accessibility guidelines, nor are they accessible to people with disabilities. This is not a good thing, but will hopefully continue to improve over time.
My concern today, though, is about sites that are not technically public sector sites, but in all likelihood their construction has been supported by public funds.
I don’t know any of the details behind this iSummit 2006 conference, nor do I know who built their web site. This site came across my radar today because Matt Mullenweg is speaking at the conference next week in Toronto. (Matt, as a fellow WaSP – can you please mention to the conference organizers something about web standards?)
What’s my point?
I won’t go into all the details because you can look for yourself – it is clear that the people that built the site haven’t heard of web standards yet, or if they have, have chosen to ignore them. Fine – we know that happens. We don’t like it, but it happens.
It is the sponsor list that bugs me the most:
- The Ontario New Media Development Corporation – an agency of our provincial government – is a Platinum Sponsor (providing $20,000 or more)
- Canadian Heritage – part of our federal government – is a Platinum Sponsor (providing $20,000 or more)
- CBC (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) – our national public broadcaster – is a Silver Sponsor (providing $10,000)
So, we’ve spent public money on something that isn’t accessible to all of the public. That is not right.
What if our provincial and federal governments made web accessibility a requirement for actually
recieving the sponsorship money? What if organizations that get any funding from the government had to have accessible web sites? Would any of that help awareness? Would it make a difference? Is it simply that accessibility wasn’t a requirement on the project, and so it just didn’t happen? I’m curious to know what happens in other parts of the world, so if you have any experience or thoughts on this let me know… Do other countries have requirements for web sites that are not public sector sites but are supported by public funds?