Posted on 27/11/2012
‘The Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy sets a course for improved web services, paving the way for a more accessible and usable web environment that will more fully engage with, and allow participation from, all people within our society.’ Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy,
The Australian Government’s adoption and implementation of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0)
WCAG 2.0 is applicable to all online government information and services. Conformance is required on all government websites owned and/or operated by government under any domain. This includes external (public-facing or private) and internal (closed community) sites. That is, conformance is required for all internet, intranet and extranet sites.
WCAG 2.0 will be implemented in three phases with explicit time frames. Depending on the type of web content and when it was created, WCAG 2.0 may or may not be applicable. The three phases and respective timeframes are:
- Preparation Phase – July 2010 to December 2010
- Transition Phase – January 2011 to December 2011
- Implementation Phase – Completed by December 2012 (Single A) and December 2014 (Double A).
For more detail, see:
Techniques and Failures for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/Overview.html
At the ‘Reaching all the people: an accessibility update from AGIMO’ (27 October 2011), Raven Calais, formerly Senior Web Policy officer at Agimo, discussed ‘Alternative formats’. She noted that these will be compliant with the current policy and with the NTS, and in line with the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Act Web Advisory Notes, if web publishers follow:
WCAG2.0 conforming technology (using Sufficient Techniques), or
Publish multiple accessible formats (2+), and
Best practice says make content accessible, and offer choice.
This clearly confirms that government agencies should publish in at least two formats, one of which must be accessible, i.e.
- an accessible PDF
- accessible HTML
These could be combined in a few ways. The recommendation should be:
- PDF + HTML (if the original PDF is not accessible)
- PDF (accessible) + HTML (for best practice)
- PDF (accessible) + HTML + ePUb (for tablets and smartphones, which have inbuilt accessibility and
therefore comply with best principle practice)
This is what the Australian Government web guide states with reference to alternative formats:
Until otherwise stated, agencies must not rely upon any web technology that cannot claim WCAG 2.0 conformance. That is, any technology may be used, but where it cannot prove its accessibility support, agencies must provide multiple accessible formats. Web technologies that claim accessibility support must prove WCAG 2.0 conformance through the use of WCAG 2.0 sufficient techniques.
Agencies are reminded that it is still a requirement to publish an alternative to all PDF documents (preferably in HTML). Recommendations of the PDF Accessibility Review Study were focused on providing better education for the creation of more accessible PDFs. Agencies are encouraged to use the slides and information from the series of PDF Accessibility Education Sessions for the Australian Government to help improve the accessibility of the PDF documents they create.
Agencies must abide by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes in order to mitigate risk of disability discrimination complaint. Agencies must provide other alternative formats upon request, but should not rely on this defence, nor consider it an appropriate long-term solution to providing accessible versions. Alternative formats should always be published at the same time.