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  1. #1
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    No legal case in the UK

    I've been doing a bit of research into the law that governs accessiblity in the UK. Here, we have the Disability Discrimination Act that protects disabled people against all forms of discrimination.

    Until now, I thought that covered web and multimedia production too, but it seems not.

    The Disability Rights Commission code of practice for Rights of Access to Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises, section 2.40, examines the responsibility of Manufacturers and Designers of Products as follows:

    “The manufacture and design of products are not in themselves covered by Part III of the Act because they do not involve the provision of services direct to the public. Nothing in the Act requires manufacturers or designers to make changes to their products, packaging or instructions. However, it makes good business sense for manufacturers and designers to make their goods (and user information) more accessible to disabled customers and they should consider doing so as a matter of good practice.”

    It appears that unless your project provides a service to the general public (basically government or education) then the DDA doesn't cover you.

    I know there are other good reasons for making accessible websites, and I personally will try and continue to do so, but the big threat of legal action that designers could bash their clients around the head with doesn't actually hold up in reality.

    NB. This is just my interpretation of the law. If someone can advise me otherwise, let's hear it.

    edit: here's the link if you fancy a butchers...
    http://www.drc-gb.org/thelaw/practice.asp
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  2. #2
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradley317
    I've been doing a bit of research into the law that governs accessiblity in the UK.
    [...]
    It appears that unless your project provides a service to the general public (basically government or education) then the DDA doesn't cover you.
    aeh...interesting interpretation, but wrong. this has been discussed at length by people and organisations which, forgive me for being blunt, have a lot more experience with regards to the legal system and the implications of the act that yourself. does it not strike you as odd that your conclusion (after doing a bit of research) is at odds with what practically all of these sources say?

    NB. This is just my interpretation of the law. If someone can advise me otherwise, let's hear it.

    edit: here's the link if you fancy a butchers...
    http://www.drc-gb.org/thelaw/practice.asp
    if you read the actual document, you'll stumble across a nice little gem under 2.17 which pretty much spells it out for you:

    An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the Act.
    note how "to the public" is used here, meaning "available to everybody" (and not, as you seem to interpret it, as "basically government and education").

    the section you quote, 2.40, refers to physical goods (true, they should have specified it better in the section opener, but it becomes evident if you read the examples that follow...they use the term "design" to mean "product design")
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  3. #3
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Has there been a case that tests the DDA's application to the Web in the UK yet?

  4. #4
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    Has there been a case that tests the DDA's application to the Web in the UK yet?
    As far as I'm aware, there is no UK case law to date where the DDA has been used against the owner of a website or multimedia application.

    redux, I think you've missed my point. I did say 'unless' you provide a service to the public. Admittedly, my generalisation about government and all that was a bit off, but your example of the flight company doesn't help much because they clearly are providing a public service.

    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    the section you quote, 2.40, refers to physical goods (true, they should have specified it better in the section opener, but it becomes evident if you read the examples that follow...they use the term "design" to mean "product design")
    That is the correct section for the type of work i'm discussing. Say I'm making CD-ROMS about how to play golf, or 80's television, or just about anything really. These would be classed as a product, and therefore surely the act wouldn't cover me.

    Let's not even get into 'reasonable adjustments'.

    I should have been more clear, my 'research' only covers multimedia, I just thought those websites not providing services aswell would also be able to get away with it.
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    product vs service

    Hi Bradley and all,

    There is an interesting discussion on whether a website constitutes a "product" or a "service" at http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-2/sloan.html

    This is an article by Martin Sloan, a legal expert who has written a lot on Web accessibility.

    In short, he states that it is silly to try and differentiate between websites that constitute products and websites that constitute services.

  6. #6
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    PS
    I am not agreeing with Bradley because I find his argument a little hazy.

    However, Redux you cannot say that anything is "wrong" without any case law to refer to. Everything is hypothetical!

  7. #7
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freuds
    Redux you cannot say that anything is "wrong" without any case law to refer to.
    what, even if the official governmental code of practice which he refers to specifically mentions websites as falling under the DDA?

    his interpretation of "service to the general public" was outright wrong, as well.
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  8. #8
    High fives all round! bradley317's Avatar
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    Good article freuds, although I'm now a little confused.

    It all comes down to the products vs services argument. Services are covered, products are not.

    http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-2/sloan.html#2.3

    The writer says that arguably all websites can be seen as a service as users request information that is then delivered to them by the website. I can agree with that.

    However, printed materials are seen as a product and therefore are not covered. So, where does that leave CD-ROMs? Somewhere in the middle I suppose, but with so little court room action regarding the countless inaccessible website, I guess the producers of multimedia applications can avoid worrying about this for a little while yet.
    Hello, hello, what's all this shouting?
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    (Helping a pal... http://www.funkdub.info)

  9. #9
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    Redux:

    I think Bradley never disagreed with the DDA covering websites, he was just arguing that they had to be a service?

    Splitting hairs, the Code of Practice is not an authoritative statement of the law, although there is a requirement that the court consider any part of the Code which seems relevant (referring to Sloan article again).

    But anyway, that is just me being silly. The interesting discussion to me is how far websites should comply? Basically they can follow government guidelines:

    • level A in draft guidelines 2001;
    • hybrid standard A+ published as of May 2002;
    • in light of European Parliament Resolution June 2002, now currently advising people to follow level AA and probably revising published guidelines to become level AA


    But then there is the reasonable adjustments aspect. Would rich commerical companies be expected to make more effort to comply and spend more money than non-for-profit organisations? Who knows.
    Is it really safe to assume that the adjustments you make are "reasonable" without any case law.


    Bradley:

    I don't know about CDs. Is difficult!


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