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What is Website Accessibility?

Trevor Grech
eGovernment Analyst
eGovernment Direction, Execution and Operations Department
February 2011

When an entity decides to procure a new service website, its main aim should to provide the service to as much people as possible irrespective of their circumstances and the type of web technologies being used. Having a technologically accessible website means that its services may be fully utilised on any Internet browser, any operating system and any type of hardware. Having a socially accessible website means that its content and functionality is available to, and may be understood by all interested parties, irrespective of their situation or requirements. Website Accessibility is achieved only when both these two measures have been attained at a satisfactory degree. It should not be confused with usability, which denotes the quality of service being delivered to the intended target audience once it is accessible to all of them.

Web Accessibility InitiativeWebsite Accessibility may be achieved by abiding to particular guidelines during the development stage of a website, catering for the different types of access and providing the right data required for assistive technology to be implemented to aid disabled persons. Such guidelines are available within the Non Government website link W3C recommendation on Web Content Accessibility, released on the 5th May 1999. This specification contains fourteen design guidelines with checkpoints describing how they can be achieved within a website.

As referenced within the OPM Intranet link OPM Circular No 25/2006 – Accessible Services for All, the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act (Cap. 413) makes it illegal to discriminate against persons with disability in matters such as employment, education and training, access to premises and accommodation, and the provision of goods, services or facilities. In compliance with this Act, the OPM Circular proceeds to specify that all information provided by each government entity should be accessible to all in different formats as required. All government entities should ensure that their websites abide by the CIMU-S-0051 Website Standard which highlights acceptable design parameters to achieve a degree of accessibility inline with the Non Government website link Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).