SA begins shift to accessible websites

By David Donaldson

Monday June 3, 2019

South Australia released a new online accessibility policy and digital toolkit last month to assist organisations to create more accessible digital platforms.

The guidelines help people with disability navigate the internet, but they also ensure websites are user-friendly for everyone.

And things are now starting to change, with the first compliant school website recently published for the Whyalla Special Education Centre.

SA Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said it is critical government websites are developed to ensure no one is left behind.

“It is vital that online content is accessible for those most in need and is also helps breakdown barriers for people with disability and allows them to participate independently in the community,” she said.

The new policy aims to help a range of people including:

  • A person with vision impairment who requires a screen reader to navigate or contribute to a web page
  • Older people with age-related challenges
  • People with temporary incapacities such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  • People using a slow internet connection or those who have limited or expensive bandwidth
  • People using internet devices that may not be running the latest software versions.

Accessible design means good design, too. The new toolkit gives users practical tips to improve online accessibility for everyone, including:

  • Visual design — having enough contrast between the text and its background colour
  • Language — making sure language is in plain English and easy to understand
  • Formatting — using the right heading styles and descriptive hyperlinks to ensure a screen reader can navigate the text in order
  • Video and audio content — using captions and transcripts, so users have the option to read instead of listen, or to translate into other languages
  • Images — adding a caption and text behind the image to ensure if it’s unable to be viewed, users can understand what is in the image

The policy and toolkit were developed in consultation with Vision Australia, Royal Society for the Blind SA, people with lived experience with disability and other key stakeholders in the disability sector.

The minister said the new toolkit would be made available to all organisations to use, including local government, private enterprise and the not-for-profit sector.

“I encourage all organisations across South Australia to review their website content and make use of these free resources to help improve access for everyone,” she stated.

“The co-design of this policy and toolkit is another example of the state government’s commitment to ensure people with disability have the leading role in shaping policies and creating programs which influence their lives.”

Vision Australia’s National Manager of Digital Access Neil King said “it’s great to see the state government taking a leadership position and creating a toolkit that will assist all South Australian organisations to think about how they develop digitally accessible platforms.

“We support more than 25,500 people across Australia who are blind or have low vision and we’re confident this toolkit and more accessible digital platforms will help those people achieve the possibilities that they choose in life.”

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