Blind woman sues federal government; says services inaccessible online

A blind Toronto woman, Donna Jodhan, is suing the federal government because she is unable to use the government’s website to apply for a job. She says that the inaccessibility of the website is discriminatory towards the blind and she’s hoping a victory in court will make the government provide equal access to services.

The CBC has more:

David Baker, Jodhan’s lawyer, told the court Tuesday that visually impaired people experience “unanticipated barriers” when searching for information on some government sites.

He compared it to a person in a wheelchair discovering a single step in the middle of a ramp.

But government lawyers will argue Jodhan is guaranteed equal benefit of the law, because government services are provided in other formats.

They will also argue there is no guaranteed access to information online on a 24-7 basis under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

My question is, how the heck did the government let this happen? Canada’s supposed to be based on multiculturalism, diversity and non-discrimination, and they can’t even provide a disabled person access to services online. That’s a crock. And the fact that the government’s lawyers are fighting her over it is embarassing.

There are plenty ways for the blind and partially sighted to view websites — programs that read out HTML code, for one, or even Braille displays — so how can a government that spent $134 million on advertising and communications in 2009–2010 not find enough money to provide service to the blind?

Do you think this woman is raising a stink over nothing, or is she right to sue the government? Tell us what you think in the comments section.