Some [New Zealand] government agencies are reluctant to adopt the new website accessibility guidelines due to take effect early next year, says the State Services Commission.
… The new website accessibility standards are part of a larger task of establishing trust between the online citizen and the government, Bruce says.
It’s not just a matter of allowing disabled people to access government services more easily, says Bruce. Websites built to proper standards work better over the slower connections a large section of the population still has to work with.
The new guidelines … cover areas such as the ability to enlarge print; clear colour combinations; and the presence of alt tags describing graphical features in text, so blind and partially-sighted users can be informed about a site’s features using voice synthesis.
… The guidelines will be mandatory for all new websites created from January 1, 2006, onwards, and for all existing sites from their latest full update before that date.
I spend between 8 and 10 hours per week working with content on CommunityNet Aotearoa, which is run by the Department of Internal Affairs on behalf of community groups. Last month we had an accessibility audit carried out by a company called Accease. My manager has written:
CommunityNet was designed with accessibility and usability as a priority, and we were delighted to hear that this was the best site AccEase’s panel have tested in the last year. We meet Web Accessibility Level 1 guidelines and are also very close to meeting the more stringent WAI Level 2 and 3 and e-Government web guidelines as well.