Access to Justice Online: Are Canadian Court Websites Accessible to Users with Visual Impairments?

36 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018

See all articles by Cody Rei-Anderson

Cody Rei-Anderson

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law, Students

Graham J. Reynolds

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law

Jayde Wood

Oyen Wiggs Green & Mutala LLP

Natasha Wood

Guild Yule LLP

Date Written: March 14, 2018

Abstract

Steps taken to make legal information available online have resulted in access to justice benefits for many. However, these benefits may not extend to everyone equally. As scholars have cautioned, the adoption of new technologies that purport to improve access to justice may perpetuate the exclusion of vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups from the justice system. This article applies this insight to legal information made available online by Canadian court websites and CanLII.

It does so through a two-part study. First, we used an automated testing tool to determine whether the websites noted above comply with accessibility standards. Second, after having secured research ethics approval, we worked with Access & Diversity at the University of British Columbia to recruit persons with visual impairments; these participants evaluated the same websites and provided feedback. Our results showed that while largely accessible, the tested websites fall short of best practices, presenting challenges to users with visual impairments. We recommend that Canadian courts correct the deficiencies identified by our study, that other online legal resources be tested for accessibility issues, and that future research focus on the extent to which online legal resources are accessible to other vulnerable or marginalized individuals or groups. Implementing these recommendations will ensure that the access to justice benefits of online legal information are extended to everyone.

Keywords: disability, access to justice, law and technology, accessibility, access to courts

Suggested Citation

Rei-Anderson, Cody and Reynolds, Graham J. and Wood, Jayde and Wood, Natasha, Access to Justice Online: Are Canadian Court Websites Accessible to Users with Visual Impairments? (March 14, 2018). Alberta Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 3, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3143971

Cody Rei-Anderson (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law, Students ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

Graham J. Reynolds

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

Jayde Wood

Oyen Wiggs Green & Mutala LLP

480 – The Station 601 West Cordova Street
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6B 1G1
Canada

Natasha Wood

Guild Yule LLP

1075 W Georgia St #2100
Vancouver, BC V6E
Canada

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