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Blind woman sues government, says its websites are not accessible

A blind Toronto woman is in Federal Court today to launch a constitutional challenge, claiming some government websites are inaccessible to the visually impaired.

Donna Jodhan, a special-needs business consultant, is seeking to improve access to government websites for blind and partially sighted Canadians, arguing some websites prevent her from having equal access to services and information.

Ms. Jodhan's lawyer, David Baker, told the court today that visually impaired people experience "unanticipated barriers" when searching for information on some government sites.

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He compared it to a person in a wheelchair discovering a single step in the middle of a ramp.

But government lawyers will argue Ms. Jodhan is guaranteed equal benefit of the law, because government services are provided in other formats.

They will also argue there is no guaranteed access to information online on a 24-7 basis under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government also claims a web standard - known as the Common Look and Feel Standard - was adopted by the government and says departments comply with these rules.

Outside court, Ms. Jodhan explained she had difficulty applying to government jobs online.

She said she hopes blind and partially sighted people will have equal and instantaneous access to information in the same way sighted people do.

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