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US Sect 508 and UK Disability Discrimination Act

Disability, accessibility, sect 508, dda

11:51 am on Sep 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'd like to start this thread as here in the UK, the calendar is loaded. Oct 31 2004 is when the final part of the UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995 comes into force.

It places a responsibility on businesses to take 'reasonable steps' to ensure that the services of the business (a website is one of these) is accessible to people with disabilities both physical and mental.

This act is controlled under civil law and it is rumoured that the first writs for non-accessibility are due to be served soon.

In this thread, I would like to exchange tips, techniques, chat, etc about the subject of accessibility and up the profile of the subject. It is better to do this now rather than later as I'm sure we don't want to get into the feeding frenzy that was Y2K-again!

Over to you...

12:03 pm on Sept 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Probably worth a link to the horses mouth:


.. although any self-respecting webmaster should be more than aware of that URL...!

If your website is purely promotional (such as a simple set of static HTML pages) then you are probably safe. After all; there is no way that every form of advertising can be made accessible to the blind.

The issue only begins to raise its head when your website offers some form of interaction that is central; or at least a significant element of your business. However, you are probably still safe provided that there are alternative means to interact with you that do not penalize your customer for doing so. These alternative means can, after all, be your solution to compliance.

The REAL issue arises where your website offers a cut price alternative to interacting with your company via another means (such as a 10% discount for booking online). In my opinion, that is when you should be legally obligated to the requirements of the disability discrimination act.

12:44 pm on Sept 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Good points and thank you.

I am aware of w3c.

This raises a number of sub issues.

Your post from what I see elsewhere is indicative of the general attitude to disability: least effort expenditure.
i.e. do the minimum the law requires rather than exemplify best practice, lowest common denominator or highest common factor?

From a business and marketing perspective people with disability are just like everyone else, they need, they spend, they consume. They may not do it directly and maybe not in person, but consume they do do.
Can your business afford not to target this section of the consuming public?

With regard to disability, blindness is the obvious one, but there are many more types of disability than just blindness, Dyslexia, physical incapacity, colour blindness, mental incapacity etc.

So you only have a brochure site, so what, you still have a duty to take reasonable steps - but you may get away with it. You state that it (DDA) only raises its head when the site is a central or significant part of the business, also true, but if you are blind, it may be the only way that you as a user can interract with that business in which case it is a very significant part of the business for you.

There may be other ways of interracting with the business, but as a disabled user, these may not be open to you.

Your last point is true and stands up in it's own right.

From reading the 172 page notes to the act (tedious), there is nowhere to hide and it is possible to argue this both ways.

I am sure that there will need to be a few test cases to clarify the law and set some precedent.

Could we have a sitrep from the USA? regarding Sect508 complaince?


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