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|August 28, 2000||
Games constraints on websites for blindGreg Buckle in Sydney
Constraints of time and money prevent the Sydney 2000 Olympics from obeying a tribunal's order to make Website results fully accessible to blind people, Games organisers said on Monday.
"This would cost in excess of A$2 million (US$1.14 million) and would take around 368 working days to complete," Milton Cockburn, spokesman of Games organisers SOCOG, told Reuters.
Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) earlier upheld a complaint by blind man Bruce Maguire and found SOCOG had breached the Disability Discrimination Act.
Maguire had complained he would be unable to access key parts of the Games website, including tables of results.
The anti-discrimination tribunal ordered SOCOG to alter the www.olympics.com site to include text on its results tables suitable for blind people as well as appropriate text on all images and image map links.
Computer encoding technology is used to make material on a website accessible to blind people by reproducing the shape of the text or pictures on the surface of a Braille pad.
Vision-impaired people who run their fingers over the Braille surface are then able to sense, or "read", the results.
SOCOG, however, said the HREOC's order could not be met because there was not enough time before the Games begin on September 15 and because it would be too expensive.
"Sydney 2000 is committed to ensuring accessibility to vision-impaired users to as much of its site as possible, where this can be achieved in a timely and cost-effective manner," Cockburn said.
Cockburn said computer giant and Games sponsor IBM Corp had advised SOCOG that Maguire's demand for the re-formatting of real-time results could not be met in time.
SOCOG's decision not to comply with the tribunal's order was not influenced by the fact that the HREOC order was non-binding and non-enforceable, Cockburn added.
In an earlier action, Maguire succeeded in forcing SOCOG to print its original ticket order book in Braille.
"It's unfortunate I think that we could not find people of more maturity and more wisdom to organise an Olympic Games, because there's certainly been no attempt made to come to an understanding of the social and ethical issues involved," Maguire told reporters on Monday.
"When I lodged my complaint I wanted to fully participate in that feeling of electricity and feeling of excitement that surrounds the Olympics," he said.
Mail Sports Editor
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