Ruth Mitchell

Accessibility Of Online Public Sector Services

With Ward Hadaway Law FirmThe e-Government Unit of the UK Cabinet Office has published a new report on the accessibility of government online services across the European Union. The report follows a five-year period of significant investment in online government services by European Member States and European Institutions. The report involved a detailed assessment of 436 Government websites across Europe.

The main objective of the study was to monitor whether the websites conformed with accessibility tests laid down by the World Wide Web Consortium. These standards include navigational features that make websites accessible to the disabled and the ability to translate the pages into a form that can be used by deaf, blind and other disabled people. The findings of the report are startling, in that 97% of official government sites could not be used by disabled people. The study recommends that the most appropriate method to ensure better accessibility is to order governments to pay penalties and compensation to those citizens unable to use the sites. The report also provides a useful list of good practice website features. Such features include changing font sizes that give the user the ability to decide and cascading style sheets that separate presentation from content.Â

The full report can be found at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/e-government/resources/eaccessibility/content.aspIf you have any queries relating to this or any other IT or intellectual property issues please contact Colin Hewitt at colin.hewitt@wardhadaway.com.

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