Digital agencies and suppliers who are across web accessibility, gain a competitive advantage when dealing with Government agencies and corporates, ensure a great user experience for those with a disability (and everyone else), and also mitigate the litigation risk for clients. Three great reasons to get accessible!
Government agencies and businesses are increasingly including accessibility as a critical requirement in their tenders. Why? One in five Australians have a disability, some of whom find it difficult to access web content due to poor design and coding. Add to this our ageing population, and more people than ever coming to Australia with English as a second language, and it all adds up to millions of people with massive spending power and influence.
This year court cases against inaccessible websites are on the rise with recent landmark court decisions in the US supporting the notion that the digital world is now considered part of the physical world in terms of anti-discriminatory rights. And the fundamental principles behind the Americans with Disability Act are the same as Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act 1992, so the litigation landscape here is bound to get more active in the near future.
However, making your website accessible isn’t just about legal compliance… it also means that you’re not turning away customers, and missing out on potential sales.
The web offers many opportunities to people with disabilities that are unavailable through any other medium and provides independence and freedom. However, if a website is not created with web accessibility in mind, it may exclude a sizeable segment of the population that stands to gain the most from the internet.
All agencies doing work for Government utilities or departments need to ensure that the websites and digital comms you work on are accessible and validated as being so. If the websites, apps, digital communications and documents you are creating for your clients can’t be effectively accessed online, then those with vision or hearing loss or impairment, as well as people with a cognitive condition, are excluded.
Of course, most website builders don’t set out to deliberately exclude people with disability. And as more agencies, designers and content producers become aware of accessibility and implement effective digital access within website development, a larger number of people of all abilities are able to effectively access the content of websites and online communications.
Understanding and complying with web accessibility requirements has become essential for digital agencies to win government work. Those demonstrating compliance with standards and seeking best practice are using it to their competitive advantage.
Here are five facts about web accessibility that you may not already know:
- Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, all Australian Government agencies are required by law to ensure that information and services are provided in a non-discriminatory accessible manner.
- The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) stipulates all Government websites should be compliant with Web content accessibility guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) and be accessible to people with a vision, hearing or cognitive disability or impairment.
- WCAG is the technical standard that is extremely useful to web developers and those involved in web content creation and management. It comprises 38 success criteria organised around 12 guidelines and four guiding principles – Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.
- Digital teams building Government services must perform to the Digital Service Standard from the DTA and are assessed on a website’s ability to be accessible to all users.
- Last year’s announcement that the Australian Government is adopting the Access ICT Procurement Standard from Europe (EN 349 501) is further proof that web/digital accessibility is becoming more important for the procurement and delivery of online services to government services. And the new Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) came into effect on 1 March 2017.
Looking for assistance?
If your organisation would like to find out how to optimise web and digital accessibility in the projects you work on, contact Media Access Australia, email the digital access team or call (02) 9212 6242. The team can validate the work you are doing as accessible and can work collaboratively with you on web access audits, usability testing, digital accessibility maturity assessments, and document remediation, and provide you with in-house accessibility training.