TORONTO, Jan. 13 /CNW/ - CNIB, Canada's primary source of information and support for people with vision loss, is appalled at the federal government's decision to appeal a court ruling that ordered it to upgrade its websites to make them fully accessible for blind and partially sighted Canadians.

"Unbelievable. Ridiculous. There are no other words to describe this turn of events," said John Rafferty, president and CEO, CNIB. "The fact that it took a court case to plead for full web accessibility in the first place is bad enough, but to learn that the government plans to spend more time and taxpayer money fighting the court's ruling is just appalling."

The case was first brought to the courts in 2007 by Donna Jodhan, a blind Toronto-based accessibility consultant who encountered significant difficulties in accessing sections of federal government websites to apply for jobs and complete online Census forms. In November 2010, Ms. Jodhan won a Charter Challenge on the basis that some government websites denied the rights of Canadians with vision loss to equal benefit of the law guaranteed under Section 15, the equality provision, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Federal Government has since filed a motion to appeal that ruling.

More than three million Canadians are unable to read print because of a disability such as blindness or partial sight.** Due to inaccessible government websites, these individuals lack access to vital information and services relating to everything from health and social welfare to public security.

"All this energy being spent appealing the court's ruling could be put to better use by getting to work on embracing the latest web accessibility standards," said Rafferty. "However, the fight for equal access rights isn't over. We will continue to support Ms. Jodhan as the next phase of this case unfolds in hopes an agreement can be reached so accessibility standards for Canadians with vision loss can move forward - not backward."

About CNIB
CNIB passionately provides community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. CNIB also offers expertise on digital accessibility standards to other organizations in the corporate and non-profit sectors. To find out more, visit or call 1-800-563-2642.

**Source: Library and Archives Canada, Initiative for Equitable Library Access 2008.


For further information:

Melita Vega
Manager, Marketing & Communications
T: (416) 486-2500 ext. 7715
Sarah Snowdon
Specialist, Communications
T: (416) 486-2500 ext 7157

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