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Eleanor Bradford reports
"The RNIB is looking for a high profile test case"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Websites warned over access
Sharon Mackenzie
Sharon Mackenzie finds some sites difficult to navigate
Scottish companies have been warned they could face prosecution if their websites are not accessible by the deaf and the visually impaired.

Inadequate design means many of those who have eyesight problems cannot "read" websites using special browser software.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind says few companies realise they might be breaking anti-discrimination laws - and the charity is looking for a high-profile test case.

Technology like speech recognition or special touch facilities make computers much more accessible.

Software used to help the visually impaired view websites
Special software can help
The internet potentially offers a door to all kinds of services and information, but poor design can render it a useless resource.

Dr Nick Fiddes from Scotweb is leading the campaign to make companies aware of the problem.

He said that, although many websites appear to be acting in breach of anti-discrimination legislation, no company has yet been brought to court.

An example of just how bad the problem can be emerged during the winter's train delays.

All the rail companies urged people to go to their websites for the latest information, however Dr Fiddes said ScotRail's site was unreadable.

A piece of software called Bobby, which can be easily accessed over the internet, identifies those sites which can and cannot be accessed by the disabled.

The tourist board, Glasgow City Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council all failed the test.

But Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Highland councils' sites would allow people with special browsers to access them.

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