There is no general commercial requirement for online media to be accessible. However some VOD services, including Netflix, iTunes and the catch-up TV services ABC iview, SBS on Demand and Plus7, do provide captions.
The World Wide Web Consortium (commonly known as the W3C) is the primary international standards organisation for the Internet.
A key part of the W3C's work is to ensure that all people are able to access online information. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is a community within the W3C that produces standards for accessible online content. These standards are generally accepted to be the international benchmark for web accessibility.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are one of the standards published by WAI which explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities.
In 2009, Media Access Australia joined the W3C with Dr Scott Hollier appointed as the organisation's Advisory Committee representative. He write the Media Access Australia W3C column, combining his many years of web accessibility experience and his role with the W3C to provide insights into the accessibility of online media for web developers.
What can you expect?
The Australian Government endorsed the international standard for web accessibility produced by the W3C, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 in 2010.
As a result, all Federal Government websites with be WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant by the end of 2014. Some of the changes that you can expect are:
- Alt-text will be provided for all important non-text content such as images
- All pre-produced videos will have captions
- All websites will be easily navigable for a screen reader, and will be navigable by keyboard
- All websites will have high colour contrasts and if any audio plays on the website, then the audio will have adjustable volume and play and pause mechanisms
- Users will be able to adjust, pause, and play any timed sequences on websites
- Websites will not have elements which flash more than 3 times per second
For information on the web accessibility polices of State and territory governments, see the page on Australian governments' access policies.
For more detailed information, see our page on the regulation of online media and digital technology.
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