According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation by a consulting firm specialising in information technology for people with disabilities, 52 % of the Danish government websites are not fully e-accessible to people with various types of disabilities.
A total of 226 government websites were tested, including pages that are directly covered by the agreement on the mandatory open standards and a variety of other government websites. Individual pages were tested in terms of compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standard and with the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standards.
The survey shows that almost half of the websites examined (48 %) have little or no serious accessibility problems, whereas the other half of them (52 %) include only some essential functions or are loaded with content that may not be available. Every tenth public website has been proved to be less accessible than it should.
According to the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Ms. Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, “The results are not very satisfactory, because we expected a more positive development after the political agreement on open standards in 2008.”
There are still many public websites that are not fully IT accessible to people with various types of disabilities, according to the same survey. Therefore, ministries, regions and municipalities should be more willing to use IT solutions in order to ensure greater accessibility for all.
Furthermore, the Ministry will launch in 2011 a new eLearning tool that will provide instructions and guidance on how documents and websites can become more accessible. “The Ministry will also examine whether there is any workable international experience, we can bring into play”, says Ms. Sahl-Madsen.
Web accessibility includes, e.g. accessible design for screen reader users, access for people who cannot use a mouse and who ultimately use the keyboard alone when they need to use various functions or download content from a website, etc.
During the ministerial conference in Riga in 2006, EU member states decided to set a goal of 100 % accessible public websites by the end of 2010. However, this has been proved difficult for all countries and none of the member state is expected to reach the target before the end of 2010.
Commenting in this regard, Mr. Michael Bach Petersen, the Head of the IT and Telecom Agency, stated, “We are not alone in our challenges to ensure accessibility of public websites. Problems exist in all EU member states. We will intensify our participation in the single European work towards achieving common strategies, tools and methods to ensure that all citizens have equal access to public information and to digital public services.”
The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has already launched a series of initiatives designed to support the authorities’ efforts to develop and maintain accessible websites. These initiatives will be further evaluated and strengthened in order to maximise improvements for the benefit of the large group of citizens with disabilities. The initiatives include an information campaign, development of accessibility eLearning and other tools to support public authorities’ work towards web accessibility.
Source: eGov Monitor