A recent annual survey conducted by UK public sector IT association Socitm, has revealed that around one in three UK councils and local Government authorities failed a test for accessibility based on how closely their websites complied with the WCAG 2.0 global web standard. What’s more, the ‘pass’ figure of 69% is down from 77% in 2016, albeit with a slightly more demanding scenario this year.
The Better Connected survey results released in May 2017 were focused on 195 tested websites – all of which had previously passed a level-1 ‘basics’ test in December 2016, as Media Access Australia reported earlier this year. The result this time around was that 61 of them failed the follow-up level-2 test, as they could not provide an acceptable level of site accessibility to users with disabilities, based on a specified online task.
For this level-2 test, councils were checked to see how they rated with a ‘real world’ user scenario. In particular, to see whether users on a mobile device “could effectively order a bulky waste collection,” the Socitm survey reported. “Sites had to offer an online order form (not a PDF) which, with its associated payment module, had to be responsive when accessed from a mobile device.”
The tests were carried out with testers who have disabilities, and based on how closely the sites complied with the WCAG 2.0 global web standard – including features such as unique and informative web page titles, good heading structure, visible focus indicators on links and form elements, and appropriate text alternatives for images.
“Sites that are accessible at set-up can quickly become inaccessible,” Socitm stated in the report summary. “Unless editors and developers understand how things like moving content, keyboard traps, illogical heading structures and websites that do not ‘respond’ when viewed on mobile devices can make it difficult and sometimes impossible for people with disabilities to use them.“
You can read more on the May 2017 Better Connected level-2 report online.
Media Access Australia’s digital accessibility services support councils in Australia to reach out to the widest possible audience to ensure that ratepayer notices, community services, and other important communications are accessible by community members of all abilities. Not doing so poses a potential litigation risk, and also prevents the one if five people in Australia who have a disability or impairment from engaging with what councils are doing online.
Check out Media Access Australia’s sector-based summary for local, state and federal Government. You can contact Media Access Australia for more information on how to ensure web accessibility.