Govt mandates disabled access to its web sites

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Govt mandates disabled access to its web sites

New standards introduced.

The Federal Government has endorsed new accessibility standards to help disabled Australians access government web sites.

By 2015, all government web sites would be required to adhere to the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

The new standard was introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in December 2008.

It was to replace WCAG 1.0, which has been in effect for Australian Government web sites since 2000.

"The key difference between WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 is the focus shift from technologically specific guidance to principle-based, user-centric guidance," explained a spokesperson for Minister for Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner.

"As WCAG 2.0 is technologically neutral, it has a broader application across web technologies. This will help future proof the guideline," he told iTnews.

WCAG 1.0 recommended that web sites provide alternatives to auditory and visual content, not rely solely on colour, and allow users to control time-sensitive content changes.

In addition to those recommendations, WCAG 2.0 required that all functionality to be available from a keyboard, to avoid designs that were known to cause seizures, and to be compatible with assistive technologies.

The spokesperson said WCAG 2.0 would better addresses accessibility requirements of disabilities that were not sufficiently covered under WCAG 1.0, including age-related illness, cognitive disabilities and motor impairments.

"The Australian government is progressively implementing new online technologies and looking to connect with more people online," Tanner said in a statement.

"[This] will encourage and enable people living with disabilities to more fully interact with, and get services from government online."

The Government planned to develop a "national transition strategy" for the move to WCAG 2.0.

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