Organisers ordered to modify Olympics site



Clare Blackburn

Organisers of the Sydney Olympics have been ordered to adapt their Web site to make it accessible to blind...



Clare Blackburn

Organisers of the Sydney Olympics have been ordered to adapt their Web site to make it accessible to blind people.

The Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Socog) must now add "ALT" text to all images and image map links on the site, to provide access for the blind to schedules and results tables.

Without the descriptive text, which must be added by the start of the games, blind people using adapted PCs able to read text by voice are prevented from moving between pages on the site, as they cannot identify images.

Australia's human rights and equal opportunities commission ruled that the Web site breached the country's Disability Discrimination Act, after a complaint from blind man Bruce Maguire.

It ordered the changes despite hearing evidence from Socog that it would be forced to reformat the site and make major changes to its infrastructure, at a cost of Aus$2.2m (£900,000). It said the site involved 1,300 templates and would generate 55,000 pages during the games.

Maguire hired experts who testified that the changes could be made simply and quickly. They said the text links could have been incorporated easily if they were designed into the site.

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