Governments are toughening up on public sector web accessibility

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Thursday, 7 July 2016 14:07pm

State and Federal Governments around the globe are toughening up on public sector web accessibility. The latest case is the Alaskan Juneau School District, which felt the wrath of that state’s Government because of a complaint from the public that their websites aren’t inclusive for all needs.

close up of a man writing on some documents

After receiving the disability discrimination complaint, Alaskan authorities undertook a rigorous investigation and found out that ten other schools, educational groups, and institutions (including the Montana School for the Deaf and blind) also had accessibility issues on their websites.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disability Act are currently in place in the United States to prohibit government agencies from discriminating against people who have a disability.

After this complaint, the district’s educational groups have agreed to fix the accessibility issues on their websites according to WCAG 2.0 guidelines.  They also undertook to have regular compliance audits of their newly accessible websites when they are built to ensure accessibility continues.

This isn’t the first time that the public has put pressure on the people in power to enforce accessibility for people with a disability. Recently we have seen UK charity Abilitynet put pressure on the government to enforce web accessibility to fine organisations whose websites and apps fail to comply with WCAG 2.0. This is after it was it was agreed that public sector web accessibility will now become a legal requirement in Europe.

According to a report by the firm Ernst & Young, the EY State of the Nation Report 2014 about the outlook for Australia’s digital economy, it noted that the government sector was found to deliver the worst digital experiences of a range of Australian sites, and many analysts believe that the current pace of positive change is too slow. And a recent investigation by Dr Scott Hollier, Director of Digital Accessibility at MAA, reported that major election-related websites had accessibility problems.

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