Three hours to buy a train ticket for a 2H17 journey, online food shopping fraught with pitfalls: the overwhelming majority of websites in France are not adapted for people with disabilities, generating an obstacle course for the blind and the visually impaired.
Indispensable everyday tools, public digital services and those of large private companies have the obligation to be equally accessible to all citizensincluding those with disabilities, visual, auditory, motor, dys disorders… But for lack of sanctions, few are.
Blind people (70,000 in France) and 1.5 million partially sighted people listen to a voice synthesis which reads the text displayed on the screen, describes the informative images, provides information on the boxes to be filled in. Unable to see where a mouse is pointing, they use keyboard shortcuts.
“I don’t have a global vision of the page, I decipher it bit by bit”explains to AFP Manuel Pereira, in charge of digital accessibility at Association Valentin Haiewhich recently brought together the visually impaired and digital professionals for a conference in Paris.
At any time, this laborious journey can be interrupted if a box is not properly coded. “After placing an entire order on the internet, we sometimes end up with a box that is not coded. The blind man hears ‘box to be filled’ without knowing if it is his name, his address or the confirmation that he has ‘accepted the conditions’”explains Manuel Pereira. “A single point that blocks and the site is unusable for us”.
Each site must publish an accessibility statement at the bottom of its page, which indicates its level of compliance with the RGAA (general reference for improving accessibility). It is judged:
- “conforme” with a 100% compliance level,
- non-compliant below 50%
- “partially compliant” between these two levels.
The Élysée site is partially compliant at 74%Ameli, the health insurance site, at 72% and SNCF-Connect at 54%.
Only eleven of the 221 flagship State procedures that can be carried out on the Internet, listed on the Observatory of the quality of online procedures, are “fully accessible” people with disabilities, told AFP Marine Boudeau, head of the design department of digital services of the interministerial digital directorate (Dinum).
The worst ? It’s the Captcha, this mosaic of images that asks you to select traffic lights, for example. Obligatory passage to go further, but cul-de-sac for a blind person.
“Buying TER tickets for Burgundy is a headache. The site was not accessible to the disabled and I was told that they did not sell them over the phone since there are ticket offices at the station”explains Céline Boeuf, blind. Blind people can request assistance or an alternative purchase over the phone, but these exist less and less. “Only one race site, Hoora, is handicapped accessible”says Manuel Pereira.
To be accessible, a site must have been coded from the start. However, digital professionals are rarely trained on this subject, they noted during the meeting this week.
“You have to test the site without images, without the mouse, without graphic style (colors, font size, etc.). Wonder how does it work when i browse this site with my ears and not with my eyes”explains Romy Duhem-Verdière, from the high-tech consulting firm Octo Technology.
A zoom to enlarge the page, a magnifying glass for a detail: “All the technical solutions exist. But since there are no heavy penalties, it is not a priority”she explains.
“Beyond the blind, this concerns color blind people, dys people, quadriplegics, and more broadly those who are aging and seeing their sight decline. A significant segment of the population”adds the expert.
“Complain! Make bad buzz on the Internet!”say digital professionals to the blind and visually impaired. “It helps us face our directions. No matter how much we talk to them about disabled users, they have never seen one, it’s a bit of a dahu for them”.
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Disability: the majority of websites are not suitable for blind and visually impaired people
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