What if you COULDN’T opt out of My Health Record?

Broken bridge leading out to the water making it impossible to cross the lake.

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There’s been a fair bit of chatter controversy about My Health Record (MHR) over the last few weeks.

The issues in the news are mainly around security and privacy, as well as the legitimacy of the data held.

Should you opt out? That’s your decision and I’m not about to try to tell you what to do. (I’ll happily engage you in a political tête-à-tête at the pub on a Saturday night, but this isn’t the forum for that.)

Should you be ABLE to opt out if you want to? Absolutely.

It’s recently emerged (via The Guardian) that if you’re vision impaired, you simply can’t opt out online.

If you have ANYTHING to do with building websites, then accessibility is part of your job. That’s all there is to it. There are zero excuses for this, particularly on a Government website and especially a Government website that not only deals with health but also your privacy and your ability to control that privacy.

As anyone who has completed a Meeum workshop can attest to, we make a lot of parallels between building a house and building a website.

Whether you’re the builder, the architect or the tiler on a building site, everyone is aware of and adheres to accessibility rules of the building industry. Adequate ramps, signage, bathrooms etc are mandatory for public use areas. It’s no different for publicly facing websites in Australia.

The errors on the MHR website are not unlike building a ramp that requires the user to climb over hot coals to get to it, to then end up facing a brick wall with nowhere to go. And then having the floor collapse beneath them.

The Disability Discrimination Act states that equal access for people with a disability is required for any website or other web resource in Australia. Coles was taken to court for this (and lost) in 2015. The Australian Government can’t even follow their own rules.

Web development like this is not only exclusionary, it’s just plain lazy.

For the most part, creating accessible websites is not that hard. HTML by its very nature is accessible out of the box – it’s bad coding that makes it inaccessible.

If you’re up for a read, have a gander at an article I wrote about images and accessibility on the web, which tackles some of simplest techniques for keeping your website accessible (and SEO friendly to boot).

Want to check your images for correct alt text and general accessibility? There are no less than 400 billion tools out there for this. One of the easiest and most comprehensive (and free) is the Wave toolbar for Chrome.

Want to check your colour contrast? Cool – hit up Hex Naw.

What about the timeout issues? Why does this site even have a timeout?

THIS IS NOT A BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT, PEOPLE.

The only reason to have a website time out is if it’s offering time-limited products that are in high demand, such as concert tickets (eg: Ticketmaster), or an auction (eg: eBay).

This is not new stuff here folks. Every single issue reported in the Guardian article was drummed into me at my first web job many eons ago.

They’re also covered extensively in our workshops.

There is simply no excuse for this sort of lazy development.

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