What Is digital accessibility?

digital accessibility

In the current digital era, it is impossible to envision a life without the Internet. Each individual should be able to access and understand the content shared online by government agencies to participate in the democratic process.  

Digital accessibility is the practice of adopting the layout and development of web content to ensure it offers the same information and services to all, including differently-abled individuals.

Importance of digital accessibility

Here are a few reasons why digital accessibility for government services is important in the current climate:

  • Promotes Inclusivity: Digital accessibility promotes citizen engagement by ensuring that no one feels left out. This design methodology accommodates the diverse needs of all users, guaranteeing that all information is receivable and understandable by everyone.
  • Ensures legal compliance: Various laws and regulations, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the European standard EN 301 549 demand equal access to digital information, products and services for all. Aligning all digital content and technologies with these regulations ensures adherence to legal standards.
  • Upholds transparency: By ensuring the accessibility of all digital content, organisations are better able to convey their message. This level of access fosters a culture of transparency, making sure everyone stays informed of the latest developments.
  • Improves accountability: Adhering to digital accessibility standards by establishing clear policies for responsible practices creates an environment of accountability.

Key components of digital accessibility policy

Here are the key aspects of a robust digital accessibility policy:

EN 301 549 compliance 

Integrating EN 301 549 compliance into your digital accessibility policy involves steps like conducting thorough audits of current digital assets to assess compliance levels and training development and content teams on the specific requirements of EN 301 549. 

This process typically requires collaboration across various departments, including IT, legal, and human resources, to ensure a holistic and effective implementation. 

WCAG compliance

WCAG 2.2 is the latest, universally accepted set of rules to ensure that all online information is accessible to individuals with different abilities. It is characterised into three levels — A, AA and AAA — denoting the levels of conformity, with AAA being the highest. 

Your digital accessibility policy must align with the four core principles of the WCAG for optimal website design — perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

Assistive technology

Assistive technology includes screen readers, braille displays, voice recognition software and any other tool used to help people with disabilities access digital information. Your content should be compatible with these devices.  

User-centred design

As a fundamental requirement, websites should be easily understood by every user. The content should be organised in a way that everyone can access what they need. A person with a specific impairment should be able to consume the content through other senses.

Progressive enhancement

Progressive enhancement is a web design practice that ensures all users receive the core content of the website before its augmented aspects reach people with advanced browsers and devices. This approach ensures everyone can benefit from a website’s essential functionality and content regardless of their technology.

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