Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 14:33 UK

Blind man angered by bank changes

Richard Godfrey-McKay
Mr Godfrey-McKay first raised the problem in December

A blind solicitor from Perth is threatening to take American Express to court because he can no longer read his credit card statements online.

In December, the firm changed its statements to a format which cannot be read by special software used by the visually impaired.

Richard Godfrey-McKay believes that breaks disability discrimination laws.

American Express has said there are alternatives for blind card users such as Braille, large print and CD-Rom.

Mr Godfrey-McKay, 53, browses the internet using a screen reader - software which sees the text on webpages spoken aloud.

However, when the bank changed his credit card statements from the HTML format to PDF, the pages were set up in a way which could not be read properly by the screen reader.

The HTML versions are still available, but cannot be found easily by those with sight difficulties.

They have a duty to make sure that their websites are accessible to blind people at every step of the way
Richard Godfrey-McKay

Mr Godfrey-McKay has been trying to get the issue dealt with since December.

He is now giving the firm until Thursday to come up with a solution or he will start legal proceedings.

Mr Godfrey-McKay said: "Taking legal action is the last thing I want to do, but there is an important point of principle here.

"There are financial service providers out there who need to understand that they have a duty to make sure that their websites are accessible to blind people at every step of the way.

"If we were to take some cases to the court, no doubt that financial service companies would take more notice of the position and perhaps they will ensure their pages are accessible to blind people."

The Disability Discrimination Act states that companies must make "reasonable adjustments" to make sure their services are accessible to everyone.

A spokeswoman for American Express said they were still working with Mr Godfrey-McKay to understand the problems with their website and pointed out the range of formats they offer for statements.

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