Accessibility outrage!

Paul Boag

A lawyer’s letter has taken an accessible website offline and the BBC technology analyst Bill Thompson is not impressed.

Yesterday I read the following article on the BBC technology web site: Building a web fit for all I can honestly say I was horrified.


Bill Thompson was writing about a case where a talented programmer called Matthew Somerville got so fed up with the fact that the Odeon web site was inaccessible to anybody but those using Internet Explorer that he wrote his own accessible version of the site.

The Odeon in their wisdom decided that this was in breach of their intellectual property and forced Matthew to take the site down.

When so few truely accessible web sites exist it horrifies me that a company like the Odeon are actually forcing people to remove accessible sites from the web.

If only somebody had the determination and cash to prosecute the Odeon under the 1995 Disability Disrimination Act for not making their own site accessible.

Also as Bill Thompson suggested it would be good to see the government extend the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 to cover web sites. Currently the act allows people with a visual impairment to make their own accessible versions of printed copyright material where there is not currently an accessible version available. If this was extended to cover the web it might force companies like the Odeon into taking accessibility a bit more seriously even if only in order to protect their intellectual property.