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Is the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Discriminating Against the Disabled?

March 2, 2013
by Geof Collis and Axel Kruegur

In his bid to have Cogeco make their website accessible to him as a screen reader user and Customer, Axel Krueger might as well have been talking to the wall for all the good it did.

After months and months of jumping through hoops by email and telephone, providing relevant documentation to his case, the CRTC handed down their decision on his complaint, but it wasn’t based in fact.

As it stated in the letter he received:

“Cogeco states in its replies that its website is compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Simple A (WCAG 2.0 A) standards set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) International organization.”

That was it, no proof, no reports nothing, just Cogecos’ word that the website was accessible.

There were no user testing as Mr. Krueger had requested.

There weren’t even any reports from any free online validation software, again just their word.

Mr. Krueger had me run a simple validation test with one of the best automated tools around, Total Validator and as a user tester as I also use a screen reader.

On the one page I checked I found many errors picked up by Validator and a few with my screen reader, I have no doubt from my experience as a website Auditor that I would find many many more throughout the site and my conclusion is this site doesn’t pass the standards Cogeco claims in their letter but again, Cogeco’s word was all the CRTC needed to hand down their decision.

If we cant rely on the CRTC to do their due diligence in investigating complaints properly what good are they?

With all the power they have shown in the past bringing Companies into compliance why have they not shown the same regard for a complaint brought forth from a member of the Disability Community?

Discrimination perhaps?

As Mr Krueger states:

What was the purpose of bringing a community of people that have challenges, disabilities, advocacy organizations and lawyers along with paid federal employees in the Fall of 2009? We understood the Hearings conducted by the CRTC to understand the effect of Telecom on persons with disabilities, was to listen and create regulations to prevent discrimination and remove barriers for these people that are challenged by the indifference the telecom companies have shown in the past.

Regulations and deadlines gave hope to those of us finding services rendered that weren’t usable, yet we paid for them.

Imagine going to your internet provider’s website , and not able to login to your account because your pointer, or cursor can not get into the field to input your username or password.

Imagine talking to tech support about where to go on their website and they are really trying to provide assistance, but it sounds like a different website entirely based on what your screen reader is saying. This went on for over 1 hour. This website is not accessible, compliant and therefor not usable.

” As a final note, I brought Cogeco Cable Inc before the Federal Human Rights Commission in 2006. At that time, through mediation Cogeco was instructed to make it’s website accessible .

I am to dialogue with the director of the Accessibility unit next week to discuss the CRTC’s response. I am hoping for real answers, because this may set the CRTC standard for the telecom industry and accessibility to a good number of it’s customer’s.

Page checked:

http://www.cogeco.ca/web/on/en/residential/ 

Total errors found:
93 (HTML: 56, WCAG 2.0 A: 36, WCAG 2.0 AA: 1) 
Total warnings found:
6 (HTML: 1, WCAG 2.0 A: 5) 
(X)HTML used for this page:
HTML 5.1