The Federal Government has announced it will update its decade-old online accessibility guidelines later this year to make agency websites more compatible with mobile phones.
Agencies have until 2015 to comply with the second version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which will be formalised along with the National Transition Strategy under the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
The code is an Internet accessibility standard developed in 2008 by the World Wide Web Consortium to ensure websites are compatible with mobile devices and accessible by people with disabilities.
The consortium said the latest code does not differ substantially from its predecessor and has published a set of implementation guidelines.
Google accessibility engineer and WCAG co-chair Loretta Guarino Reid said in a statement during the release of the second version of WCAG that “most web sites that conformed to WCAG 1.0 did not need significant changes to meet WCAG 2.0".
Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner said the introduction of the code is “an important step in making democracy more open, accessible and accountable”, adding “it will encourage people living with disabilities to more fully interact with, and get services from government online”.
Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes said the code will become important for people who may develop disabilities later in life.
“So, whether my computer speaks to me because I can't see the screen, or I use a mouth stick to press the keys, these new standards will ensure government information will be easier to access,” Innes said.