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Access to technology for the disabled: the forgotten legacy of innovation?

Russell, Catherine (2003) Access to technology for the disabled: the forgotten legacy of innovation? Information & Communications Technology Law, 12 (3). pp. 237-246. ISSN 1360-0834

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Abstract

The growth of the importance of new technologies, particularly the Internet, has sparked a vast amount of interest in their regulation and the harnessing of their commercial potential, but much less attention has been paid to widening access. A so-called 'digital divide' has been recognised; the phenomenon of certain groups being left behind as new technology progresses. Disabled Internet users, for example the partially sighted or those with impaired motor skills, can enjoy full access to websites if they are enabled to support this access. Legal movements have been made in the area of online accessibility, particularly through the landmark Maguire v SOCOG case, and cases brought in the USA under the Rehabilitation Act 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990. These cases often refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to determine a standard accessibility but no universal standard has yet been developed. The developments in this area are piecemeal but if accessibility requirements are recognised not only for public but also for private websites the impact will be substantial.

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