Canadian Government launches new standard on web accessibility

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Tuesday, 23 August 2011 15:45pm

 The Canadian Government has announced that all public facing government websites will comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines(WCAG) 2.0 level AA. The new requirements came into effect on 1 August 2011 and will be implemented in three phases over two years.

The Standard on Web Accessibility outlines the requirements for government departments, and is supported by a guidance document outlining specific deliverables, tools and solutions. The Government suggested that the departments start implementing the guidelines immediately, giving priority to core content and most important information. All the web pages published after 11 October 2011 must be in compliance with the WCAG 2.0 AA.

The Standard on Web Accessibility has exempted live video captions, audio description, complex maps, images of text (logos) and video content provided exclusively for reuse by media. It also allows a grace period of 10 days for captioning of pre-recorded video to allow for quick distribution.Accessible websites ensure content is available to a wider audience and assist people with disabilities to gain access to information and services. The Canadian Government states that, “By applying the Standard on Web Accessibility, the Government will be making its online information and services increasingly accessible to all Canadians.”

In November 2010, a blind woman from Toronto took legal action against the Canadian Government after discovering she could not apply for a federal job online or complete the 2006 census. The court found that government websites were not compliant with accessibility standards and this constituted a breach of equality rights. It ordered that all federal government websites be made accessible to visually impaired users.

In 2010, the Australian Government released the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy. Under the Strategy, all government websites are required to meet WCAG 2.0 level A by 2012 and all federal government websites must meet WCAG 2.0 level AA by 2014.

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