William Eichler 17 May 2017

Disability access to council websites ‘ongoing challenge’

The websites of nearly a third of councils failed an accessibility test for people with disabilities proving digital access is still ‘an ongoing challenge’.

Socitm, the society for IT/digital leaders, have reported 134 of 195 council websites (69%) have passed their Better Connected stage two accessibility test.

This means their website content can be readily consumed by people with disabilities, including those using the keyboard only or assistive technologies like screen readers.

A limited stage one test designed to identify sites that would fail the full test was carried out on all 416 UK council websites in December 2016. 275 sites - two thirds of the total - passed this test.

The 69% of councils who passed stage two represents an 8% drop on last year. However, Socitm pointed out this year ‘a different, and arguably more difficult’ set of tasks were tested.

Results of the more directly year-on-year comparable top pages task, covering home, contact us, and one top page covering council, business, and resident services shows that 88% of the stage two cohort passed this task, compared with 82% in 2016.

The Better Connected process tests sites against 14 criteria that are in line with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

They are also carried out by the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) whose team members each have a disability, among them visual impairment, dyslexia, mobility impairment and learning disabilities.

Socitm congratulated 60 councils from the cohort of 195 tested this year that have passed the accessibility test for each of the last three years.

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