18 September 2008

WebWatch launched amid moves to improve website accessibility

The Australian Human Rights Commission has, this week, added a publicly available WebWatch list on its website where government websites that post material that is inaccessible to people with disabilities will be named as they come to the Commission’s attention.

“Last month I said publicly that government departments and agencies needed to lift their game in providing equal access to public information for people with disability,” said Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes.

Today, the Australian Human Rights Commission welcomed the passage by the Senate yesterday of a motion drawing attention to the need for ensuring non-discriminatory access to Parliamentary documents.

The Senate yesterday agreed to the following motion, put by Tasmania’s Senator Stephen Parry at the request of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services, Senator Cory Bernardi:

That the Senate:
(a) notes the difficulties experienced by people with a disability, particularly people with vision impairment, in accessing some formats of Senate documents online; and
(b) calls on the Government and the Department of the Senate to ensure all Hansard and Senate committee documents are made accessible via the Internet to people with a disability as soon as they become public.

“In a democracy it is particularly vital that information from the Parliament itself should be accessible to all,” said Commissioner Innes. “It is good to see the Senate taking a lead on this issue and I congratulate Senator Bernardi and his colleagues for this initiative.”

The move by Senator Bernardi follows recent concerns expressed by a number of Australians who could not access important documents and sites, such as the Grocery Watch site and the recently released climate change papers.

WebWatch can be accessed at www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/webaccess/webwatch.htm

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529