Cameron’s digital champion calls for government action on websites


David Cameron’s “digital champion” has called on the government to shut down publicly-funded websites that are not accessible to disabled people.

Martha Lane Fox, who was reappointed as the UK digital champion by the prime minister last month, made the call in a new report, Manifesto for a Networked Nation.

The report is part of a campaign to get more than 1.6 million more people online by the end of 2012.

Lane Fox’s report says the government should close down websites that receive public funding and “consistently fail to meet its own web accessibility guidelines”.

Her report also calls on industry to ensure that products and services that support internet use are “tailored to the needs” of disabled and older people, such as making stores more user-friendly and developing more accessible products.

Ed Vaizey, the Conservative minister for culture, communications and creative industries, told this week’s E-Access 2010 conference on accessible technology that the government was “now looking at the implications” of Lane Fox’s call to close down websites.

Vaizey told the conference that disabled people were more than twice as likely not to use the internet as the overall population.

He said the government’s e-accessibility forum would work in a number of areas to improve access to technology, including examining the accessibility and affordability of consumer technology and digital equipment, improving the accessibility of government websites, and examining the rules and regulations governing television subtitles and audio description.

15 July 2010