Accessibility is also fundamental to the principles of equal rights and social inclusion. It ensures that people with a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, cognitive, and motor disabilities, can access and navigate websites, web applications, and other online content.
Web accessibility is not just important for people with disabilities. It can also benefit older people with age-related impairments, people with temporary injuries, or people using older devices. Moreover, making a website accessible can enhance user experience, improve search engine optimisation, and broaden the potential audience, which can ultimately benefit businesses and organisations.
Furthermore, web accessibility is not only a social responsibility but also a legal requirement in many countries.
The following are some of the key laws and guidelines related to web accessibility in Australia:
- The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 is the primary legislation in Australia that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It requires all organisations, including government agencies and private businesses, to provide equal access to services, facilities, and information to people with disabilities, including those accessing information and services online. The DDA covers web accessibility and requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that their digital content is accessible to people with disabilities.
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 is a global standard that provides guidelines and techniques for making web content more accessible. The Australian government has endorsed the WCAG as the standard for web accessibility. All government websites are required to meet at least Level AA of the WCAG.
- The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is a government agency responsible for developing and implementing policies and guidelines related to web accessibility. The DTA has created the Digital Service Standard, which outlines the requirements for all government digital services, including web accessibility.
- The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is an independent statutory organization that promotes and protects human rights in Australia. The AHRC has the power to investigate and address complaints of discrimination related to web accessibility under the DDA.
In summary, organisations in Australia are required by law to ensure that their digital content is accessible to people with disabilities, and guidelines such as the WCAG 2.1 and the DTA Digital Service Standard provide detailed requirements on how to achieve this. The AHRC is responsible for enforcing web accessibility laws in Australia.
Web accessibility is crucial to ensure equal access to digital content for people with disabilities, promote social inclusion, comply with legal requirements, enhance user experience, and potentially benefit businesses and organisations.
Here are FPDNs 11 tips to set you on your web accessibility journey:
- Ensure that the website follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- Follow guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W2. Ensure that all images have alternative text descriptions for screen readers.
- Use headings and subheadings to structure content.
- Provide transcripts or closed captions for videos.
- Ensure that all form fields have clear labels and instructions.
- Use high contrast colors and avoid using color alone to convey meaning.
- Ensure that the website is keyboard accessible and can be navigated solely using the keyboard.
- Use descriptive link text that clearly describes the destination of the link.
- Provide options to increase text size and adjust other accessibility settings.
- Offer alternative formats or accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
- Conduct regular accessibility audits and testing to ensure continued compliance.
If you are still unsure where to start your web accessibility journey, contact us and we will try and point you in the right direction.
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