Equal Internet access urged

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 December, 1999, 12:00am

Visually impaired people are unable to receive much of the official information posted on the Internet because only three of the 90 government Web sites are designed to be accessible to them.

Hong Kong Blind Union representative Chong Chan-yau revealed the figure at a seminar on disability organised by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

'Only the Government's general Web site - designed by the Information Services Department - the Home Affairs Bureau site and that of the Information Technology and Services Department are accessible to us,' Mr Chong said.

'The awareness of Web accessibility is low in the community, both in the public and private sectors.' According to the latest figures from the Health and Welfare Bureau, Hong Kong has 74,400 visually impaired citizens, 6,700 of them blind.

Web sites that use mainly graphics instead of text, such as the Hong Kong Disneyland site and the home-page of the Healthy Living campaign, were problematic.

Dr Lu Qin, of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's computer department, said the difficulty could be overcome easily and cheaply by adding text next to the images.

Mr Chong urged the Government to introduce mandatory policies to ensure equal access to public services and information delivered through electronic means.

'Web accessibility is also an equal opportunities issue,' he said, adding such policies had been adopted in Australia, Canada and the US.