Court upholds ruling against Canadian government’s website

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Wednesday, 6 June 2012 14:55pm

The Canadian government has lost its appeal against a court ruling that said its website was in breach of charter rights of people with vision disabilities.

The Federal Court of Appeal last week upheld a court decision in 2010 that said the Canadian government failed to comply with website accessibility standards when Donna Jodhan, a blind woman from Toronto, could not apply for a job through a government website or complete the 2006 census online.     

In November 2010, the Canadian government was ordered to make all government websites accessible to vision impaired users by 2012 as a result of a case launched by Jodhan. The Canadian government had just 15 months to build websites that comply with web accessibility standards.

In January 2011, the Canadian government made an appeal against the ruling, saying its services could be accessed through alternative avenues such as phone or fax.

However, Justice Marc Nadon, who delivered the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision, said the government and its website was in breach of charter rights of people with vision disabilities because Jodhan “did not receive the equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on her physical disability”.

Justice Nadon agreed the government’s inaccessible website forced Jodhan to rely on sighted users to perform tasks and said it is “demeaning and propagates the point of view that [people with vision disabilities] are less capable and less worthy”.

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