Federal Government Plans to Waste More Money Trying to Evade its Responsibilities

As some of you will recall, Moyra Lang posted on a federal court decision that required the government to make its websites accessible to blind internet users.

The government has now announced plans to appeal that decision.

According to this article, Treasury Board spokesman, Pierre-Alain Bujold, said in an email that the government is filing an appeal with the federal court in order to address certain aspects of the decision.

“These include factual findings made by the Court, numerous aspects of the
legal reasoning applied to those facts, and the unusual supervisory order of
the court to monitor implementation of its decision.”

If you’re interested in reading the initial federal court decision, you can find a plain text version here, and you can find a pdf version here.

As a blind Canadian, I think the decision to appeal is very unfortunate. The government will no doubt spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of the hundreds of thousands that have already been spent fighting the courts to be allowed to exclude blind people from accessing their sites.

New technologies present a tremendous opportunity to facilitate access to information for everyone, but particularly for blind people. The technology needed to scan a printed text and convert the text to speech can now be carried around in one’s cell phone. Yet, there are countless examples of newer products and services that eliminate accessibility that previously existed (e.g., inaccessible touch screens used in credit card and debit transactions, flat stove tops and touch screen operated ovens, DVDs that rely on visually-accessed menus, graphics-based operating systems that replaced command-based operating systems), and I could easily go on. Blind people are fighting not only to gain access, but also to maintain access.

The government is making a mistake in appealing the federal court’s decision. I have already written to my MP to ask her to hold the government accountable for this misuse of resources, and I hope you too will let your MP know how you feel about the governments attempt to avoid meeting its responsibilities.

Marc Workman

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