E-Marketing in Minneapolis David Vinge, eMarketing Dashboard: UK government accessibility consultation

Sunday, November 25, 2007

UK government accessibility consultation

The UK government has issued a consultation document on Delivering Inclusive Websites.

It’s not finalised, as the consultation doesn’t end until November 13. It re examines PAS 78, recognises that the only way to find out if a Web site is accessible is to test it and it says that the minimum acceptable level of accessibility is Level-AA of WCAG 1.0 — so valid, semantic code becomes mandatory:

The minimum level of accessibility for all Government Web sites is Level Double-A of the W3C guidelines. Any new site approved by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Public Engagement and the Delivery of Service must conform to these guidelines from the point of publication.

Continuing stand alone sites must achieve this level of accessibility by December 2008. Web sites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance shall be subject to the withdrawal process for .gov.uk domain names. Wow, tough love.

In addition companies who who manufacture Content Management Systems will be required to ensure that their products produce valid, semantic code and comply with authoring tool accessibility guidelines (ATAG) so that members of staff with disabilities can publish with them:

In order to build an accessible Web site, authoring tools must produce content that upholds Web content accessibility standards. This is especially important if the organisation will be using a Content Management System (CMS) to produce content automatically. This must be taken into account during the procurement of authoring tools and CMS.

Some vendors have started to take notice. Microsoft has acknowledged that Sharepoint 2007 won’t be WCAG level A or ATAG-compliant out of the box until the next release in 2009 or 2010.

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