OZeWAI is an association of volunteers working to make the information world more inclusive. It was the first such organisation in Australia and has been a leading initiative in the field for more than 20 years. Many international and high-profile experts have contributed to OZeWAI activities and OZeWAI has introduced many developers and managers to the need for accessibility.
Accessibility benefits an estimated 20% of the population who, without some accommodations, cannot participate in the digital world. OZeWAI is aware of the difficulty of making all devices, services and content fully inclusive. There are document standards, device standards and more but without suitable practices in place, the levels of accessibility are often disappointing and many are unable to participate.
OZeWAI asks the fundamental question:
What should we do to be more inclusive?
It is expected that the answer will be – not every situation, service, or object needs the same procedures and many vary according to their context and who is trying to use them. Volunteer experts are concerned that unless we can answer this question, we cannot expect things to change.
Australian law does not yet provide a clear definition of accessibility that guides and protects everyone; people shy away from the problem of being inclusive because it is often seen as ‘too hard’ or ‘too expensive’, missing access to that 20% of their potential audience, and people with disabilities justifiably feel alienated and disadvantaged.
When digital resources are published in Australia and a user has difficulties caused by the way in which the resource is published, they may have recourse under either a state or federal law that considers it to be a case of discrimination. The legislation and its implementation are complex but the results can be very annoying to those discriminated against and very expensive for the publisher.
OZeWAI has its focus currently on what to do to avoid discriminating against anyone. Other organisations provide help when there is a case of discrimination – see eg. the Victorian Disability Discrimination Legal Service.
OZeWAI has a long history in Australia and the accessibility community that we value and celebrate.