Disabled Access Law

  OldBaldy 23:10 14 Sep 03

I heard something on the grapevine about new legislation regarding website compatibility for disabled users... kinda ignored it at the time, but i just got a contract to do a site for a Mobility Equipment retailer so thought I should at least look it up - any ideas?

First draft of the site is up now at click here

  Forum Editor 02:05 15 Sep 03

which is likely to become law in October 2004.

New regulations will amend the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act to include far-reaching changes in the law that governs the way society behaves towards disabled people.

Section 21 of the draft legislation says:-

"Where a provider of services has a practice, policy or procedure which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled persons to make use of a service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to other members of the public, it is his duty to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to have to take in order to change that practice, policy or procedure so that it no longer has that effect."

My own view is that this will be the part of the amendment that will apply to web design. In practical terms the new regulations will mean that all new web sites must be designed with disabled access in mind. Designers must pay attention to colour schemes, drop down menus, text sizes and layout, and site navigation. The new regulations will have the full force of law, and I imagine that government will issue a set of guidelines for web designers in due course.

It will obviously be quite impossible for government to police the internet in any meaningful way, and I imagine that they'll rely on reports from disabled users to identify sites that don't comply with the law. This kind of legislation relies for its effectiveness on the voluntary cooperation of the section of the community involved, and I expect that there'll eventually be some kind of 'satisfaction mark' that can be applied for by designers, and exhibited on sites that meet the criteria laid down in the guidelines.

We'll keep you all informed as the date for legislation approaches, but in the meantime there's nothing to stop you designing sites that meet some of the needs of disabled people right now. For more information about how to do that
click here

  Forum Editor 02:46 15 Sep 03

I would be inclined to lose the Flash animation below the nav bar on the welcome page - it's too busy, and is immensely distracting. The animation at top right is just about bearable, but I invite you to think long and hard about the use of Flash in future. I can see from your portfolio that you're keen on it, and I have nothing against the odd Flash element on a site, but......

It has to be used with considerable restraint in my view. Many people are deterred by slow loaders, and having to hit an 'Enter' button before you see the real content is an unecessary complication. Flash enjoyed a real bonanza time a year or so ago, but its effectiveness on commercial sites is questionable. I find that corporate clients are asking for simplicity above all else nowadays, and there's a lot to be said for it.

Don't be offended, I like your work very much, but some of it does have a slightly dated look - due entirely to the Flash elements.

Finally - I would personally remove those huge horizontal bars from Cassop Thompson (my favourite site), or at least make them only a couple of pixels deep - they're very distracting.

  OldBaldy 09:32 15 Sep 03

Thankyou, both for the fairly considerable amount of time you appear to have spent looking through my portfolio, and secondly for you comments.

As for your recommendations, I will take them on board, and seriously too. The flash element below the menu is toast.... But I will be leaving the one in at the top of the page as I feel it gives an otherwise plain site a little live. The colour scheme was beyond my control as the company has an existing colour scheme in it's printed materials they insisted they wanted to continue, and bottom line, it IS their site.

As for the cassop thompson site, I will pass your comments on to the site owner - the design has been approved by him, and I'm not in the habit of changing things without my customers permission :D however, don't be surprised if a change or two occurs...

Again, thankyou for your time, and opinions.

Not too shabby for someone who's 100% self taught... but then, I think most of us are nowadays....

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