Californian government websites found to be inaccessible

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Friday, 5 June 2015 11:52am

The California State Auditor has reported that many government websites in the state continue to not be fully accessible to persons with disabilities, despite state and federal legal requirements and the growing use of government services online.

The June 2015 report from the Californian State Auditor, states that violations of web accessibility standards ranged in severity, some to the point that “…elements of the departments’ websites were completely inaccessible to users with disabilities while other violations may prevent persons with disabilities from completing tasks necessary to access certain online services.”

The audit also found departments did not regularly test updates to their websites to ensure that the websites were accessible after the updates.

“Because of the violations of accessibility standards on the websites of the departments we reviewed and the lack of regular accessibility testing at most of those departments, we believe that California would benefit from requiring web accessibility training for staff involved in the procurement or development of websites…” the audit report reads.

The report also recommends that the California Department of Technology should provide direction to state departments that specifies the method by which departments should conduct web accessibility testing.

“Increased and standardized web accessibility testing in combination with required training would increase the likelihood that state websites would be accessible to persons with disabilities who attempt to access critical services and information through those websites,” the audit report reads.

“Finally, we recommend that the Legislature amend state law to require all state websites to comply with updated standards that could help make California government websites more accessible.”

The news comes at a time when the Australian Government is stepping up its focus on making both its websites and online services more accessible and end user-focused.

As at December 2014 the government completed its National Transition Strategy (NTS)—aimed at bringing all federal websites into compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

As of 1 July 2015, the government will be launching its Digital Transformation Office, which will oversee the transition of all government services online. The office will also implement a new Digital Service Standard—a set of 16 principles to help agencies shape their services.

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