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Legal Requirements for Accessibility


the follow is extracted from archived email at


From: Tom Worthington <>

To: Sue Bushell <>, <>

Date: Wednesday, 28 November 2001 9:37

Subject: Re: [LINK] Australian Government web sites

At 03:17 27/11/01 +1100, Sue Bushell wrote: >Does anyone happen to know of any organization which rates Australian >Government web sites on issues of usability, accessibility, information >content etc? ...

According to the NOIE "The Guide to Minimum Web Site Standards" <> there are standards for: Information provision, Metadata, Electronic publishing, Electronic Record Keeping and Archiving, Web Content Accessibility, Authentication, Privacy and Security. Where these are adaptions of old standards which pre-date the web, they tend to have reporting and enforcement mechanisms (including criminal penalties). Newer ones tend not to.

Overall these are very good standards and I use them for teaching web design and e-commerce at the Australian National University. The problem with government web sites comes about not through lack of standards, but a lack of advocacy and enforcement. As an example all agencies are supposed to test themselves for accessibility <>:

> From 1 June 2000, all web sites were to be tested by agencies for > accessibility, and all new website contracts were to include > accessibility as a key performance measure. From 1 December 2000, all > websites were to follow the W3C guidelines to a sufficient extent that > they pass recognised tests of accessibility. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes (Version 3.1 May 1999) <> endorse the World Wide Web Consortium´s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and references AusInfo's "Guidelines for Commonwealth Information Published in Electronic Formats" <>.

Unfortunately the level of compliance required for agencies is not stated in the guidelines. In the absence of further detail the lowest level of compliance could be taken as the standard. This would be the Bobby automated test <> which implements a subset of W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guideline, Conformance Level "A" <>. The level of accessibility compliance doesn't appear to be publicly reported. This might be checked by searching for Bobby icons on web pages or by a web crawler implementing a bulk Bobby test (might make a useful student project).

Tom Worthington FACS Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309 PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617


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Last updated: 8 March 2002