In 2010 the Commonwealth Government committed to making its websites WCAG 2.0 compliant, and requiring all State Government websites to follow suit.
WA State Government agencies must conform to Level AA level of WCAG 2.0 by December 2013 and are now under pressure to review their websites and online publications and leave plenty of time to make any necessary changes before the end of the year.
Better late than never
Making website content accessible to the widest possible audience, including those with disabilities and special needs, has been a priority for those in the Web industry for the last decade. The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) guiding principle, “Web for all, Web on everything”, led to the establishment of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the development of the globally accepted standard for accessible website development, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Sharepoint + PDF = problems
For many agencies, compliance is not going to be straightforward. Sharepoint has been widely adopted by agencies in WA and has long been recognized as a hurdle for those seeking to make their websites accessible for people with disabilities. Coupled with the widespread practice of publishing content as downloadable PDF documents rather than accessible HTML web pages, many agencies are likely to find compliance hard to achieve by the end of the year.
Fortunately, some agencies are beginning to move in the right direction. A small but significant shift to alternative content management systems, such as Drupal, has been noticeable. And, some agencies have been considering addressing workflows and practices to better accommodate accessibility compliance and the needs of people with disabilities.
An opportunity for Government agencies
Hopefully the pressure to make websites and online publications accessible will encourage agencies to consider revisiting the design of their websites and look to improving usability in general, as well as addresses the needs of the increasing proportion of mobile web users.
UPDATE: We offering agencies an independent accessibility review that will give you practical steps to meet your WCAG 2.0 obligations.