The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) been instrumental in providing concrete standards to support government web accessibility. The W3C released the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), with the release of version 1.0 in 1999 and version 2.0 in 2008.
In February 2010, the Commonwealth Government committed to making all its websites compliant with WCAG 2.0 by 2015.
Adoption and implementation details were released by Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) on 30th June, 2010, as part of the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy.
The Commonwealth Government will require all Commonwealth, State, and Territory Government websites to conform to the Single A level of WCAG 2.0 by the end of 2012. All Commonwealth Government websites must conform to the Double A level of WCAG 2.0 by the end of 2015. States and Territories may elect to conform to Double or Triple A levels.
This applies to all websites, including departmental intranets and private extranets, subject to stringent exemptions and opt-out policies (Commonwealth Government only).
There are three phases in the National Transition Strategy:
- 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)
Agencies will be required to conduct their own assessment and review of their websites and form their own implementation strategies with advice and guidance from AGIMO.
Commonwealth Government agencies will be required to report to AGIMO, while State and Territory Government agencies will deal with jurisdictional representative agencies.
The Australian Human Rights Commission's World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes state:
- Non-government websites and web resources whose development commences after July 1 2010 should comply with WCAG 2.0 to a minimum of AA-Level conformance;
- Existing non-government websites or web resources that undergo substantial change in the period July 2010 – December 2013 should comply with WCAG 2.0 to a minimum level of AA conformance;
- All existing non-government websites and web content should comply with WCAG 2.0 to a minimum level of AA conformance by December 31 2013.
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