Online accessibility is important because it allows a person with a disability to understand and use a web site, application, intranet, or program.
It allows people with disabilities to:
- access information like anyone else;
- interact with others without being categorised as “disabled”; and
- undertake activities which they are not otherwise able to do.
In Australia 20% of the population has a disability that affects their daily life (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003). Due to the ageing population, this number will increase.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (administered by the Australian Human Rights Commission) organisations must ensure that people with disabilities are afforded the same fundamental rights to access information as the rest of the community. This requirement applies to any individual or organisation developing a website or other web resource in Australia, or placing or maintaining a web resource on an Australian server.
These are mandatory requirements under the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy represents the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure information and communication relating to government services is accessible, inclusive and allows equitable opportunity for participation by people with a disability, their families and carers.
Web accessibility is achieved through implementation of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
WCAG 2.0 is based on four high-level principles that are implemented through a set of general guidelines, success criteria and sufficient and advisory techniques.
As stated by the Australian Human Rights Commission, there are four basic principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These principles are:
- Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. One implication of this principle is that information cannot be presented in a form that is only available through one sense, such as providing only a visual form of a CAPTCHA.
- Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable. In other words, users must be able to operate with the user interface and navigational aspects of a website. One implication of this principle is that interaction with web content should not depend on a user being able to use a physical mouse.
- Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface components must be understandable. In other words, users must be able to understand both the information (content) and how to interact with it. One implication of this principle is that changes of content or context must not be triggered unexpectedly (for example, through the use of focus changes).
- Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. One implication of this principles is that a webpage should not require the use of a specific assistive technology (such as a specific screen reader) in order to be accessible.
Under the principles are guidelines. The twelve guidelines provide the basic goals that website developers and content authors should work toward in order to make content more accessible to users with different disabilities.
For each guideline, testable success criteria are provided to allow WCAG 2.0 to be used where requirements and conformance testing are necessary.
For each of the guidelines and success criteria in the WCAG 2.0 document itself, there are a wide variety of techniques. The techniques fall into two categories: those that are sufficient for meeting the success criteria and those that are advisory. These factsheets only refer to the sufficient success criteria. Common mistakes that are considered failures of each relevant success criterion by the WCAG Working Group are also referenced in the factsheets.
Information above taken from: Australian Human Rights Commission. 2010. World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes ver 4.0 (2010). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/www_3/www_3.html#basic. [Accessed 27 May 12].