The Federal Government has launched its Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy which will see federal, state and territory governments compelled to make their websites accessible by a wider cross-section of Australian society.
The strategy will be implemented over four years and aims to help people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities access the web through the use of different techniques to create and manage web content and through the use of technologies such as screen readers.
According to the Australian Government chief information officer, Ann Steward, the strategy, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 developed by World Wide Web Consortium, was an important milestone.
“Never before have we embarked upon such a significant effort to improve website accessibility, delivered on a whole-of-government basis, with strengthened governance and reporting arrangements in-built,” she said in the forward to the strategy.
“The next few years present great challenges and opportunities to government, through the implementation of WCAG 2.0. These will be overcome and celebrated in collaboration with our peers across portfolios, jurisdictions and governments around the world.”
The strategy seeks to improve accessibility through utilising WCAG 2.0’s stipulatation that content should be ‘perceivable’, ‘operable’, ‘understandable’ and ‘robust’. Under these four principles, 12 guidelines aim to further clarify the purpose of each principle.
The strategy will also include a reporting component to gauge government agencies progress in implementing the WCAG 2.0. Under the reporting arrangements, agencies will be required to report to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) at regular intervals on their conformance to the new guidelines.