Odeon reels out accessibility excuses

Builder: A row over accessibility of the Odeon Website has reached fever pitch

The Odeon cinema chain has been accused of breaching the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) despite making improvements to its online film information and booking site.

Odeon was initially involved in a row earlier this year with a freelance web designer who put up an alternative "Accessible Odeon" website that made it easier for users to navigate the cinema chain's site and online booking system using browsers other than Internet Explorer.

But in July Odeon forced the designer, Matthew Somerville, to pull the 'Accessible Odeon' website after it received complaints from customers who had submitted personal details, believing it to be affiliated to the official Odeon site. Odeon also said Somerville was causing confusion with the unauthorised use of its copyright and trademark.

Odeon has now updated its own official website and the home page now has menu options for "text-based film times" and "accessibility information".

But the changes have not impressed accessibility consultancy The Usability Company, which claims Odeon has made a poor job of the changes and that it is still in breach of the DDA.

Catriona Campbell, founder and chairman of The Usability Company described the Odeon site as "one of the worst sites for accessibility I have ever seen by a British company".

She said the site is still difficult to use for blind or visually impaired people and those who can't use a mouse to surf websites, citing "tons of dead ends that are totally in breach of the DDA".

In a statement, Odeon said the updating of its site to meet accessibility standards included in the DDA is an ongoing process.

"The Odeon website was initially developed to work on the most popular browsers using the latest technology at the time. Odeon takes its obligations under the DDA very seriously, and has been working with its IT developers and DDA consultants regarding implementation of compliance and good practice standards to meet the DDA as it comes into force."