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Independent Website Audit Company launches in NZ

Websites in NZ discriminate against people with disabilities

4 April 2005. W 3 A Limited, an independent web auditing company based in Wellington, NZ, is predicting a major technology dash to bring NZ web sites in line with the NZ Human Rights Act.

Bruce Aylward, CEO of W 3 A, comments: The NZ Human Rights Act requires that companies not discriminate against people with disabilities. Amongst other areas the act specifically mentions public services offered by a company. As a company's website is a public service it should comply with the HRA and not discriminate against people with disabilities.

The NZ government is committed making all of their sites more accessible by January 2006. The private sector however is falling behind.

A random check of leading firms shows that few are in line with legislation and therefore face the very real threat of legal action by disabled individuals who feel that they are being discriminated against. As an example the Sydney Olympic Committee was successfully sued for A$20,000 because their website did not meet the necessary standards for the disabled. Similar suits against online travel agencies have recently been concluded in US courts.

The Human Rights Commission is responsible for taking action on behalf of individuals that feel they are discriminated against because of inaccessible websites.

Aylward again - Booking a holiday online, doing the weekly shopping or managing a bank account can so easily be taken for granted by most of us, but opens up a whole new world for the disabled given proper access. This market is underrepresented in NZ and great opportunities exist for companies who make their websites more accessible to the disabled community.

To comply with the law is not a difficult task. A simple audit will quickly determine areas where the site's accessibility can be improved. For example multimedia content on the site must be supported with equivalent textual content.

A mistake being made by some organisations is to rely on software packages to do the checking for them. Such packages fall short because they cannot interpret images or graphics to ensure that the correct meaning is being represented in text. This creates the need for an independent and manual audit of a site to ensure that all aspects are covered.

Aylward concludes - There is a lot of catching up to do and companies are beginning to realise that they are missing out on this opportunity and are possibly vulnerable to being sued. Inevitably this will cause a rush of web site development and enhancement. W 3 A is here to help the website owners and website designers to improve the accessibility of their websites.

About W 3 A Limited

W 3 A Limited is an independent website audit company based in Wellington, NZ. Services offered include a range of audits to ensure that company websites and intranets comply with the NZ Human Rights Act as well as training courses in how to develop accessible websites.

The company aims to promote the issue of website accessibility as well as helping website designers to design more accessible websites.

W 3 A Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of UK-based Alpha Squared Solutions Ltd.


For more information or interview opportunities please contact:

Bruce Aylward
W 3 A Limited
+64 (0)27 224 3617