Strategic Communications

Website Accessibility - Introduction

NSW Government websites provide a vital link between agencies and the community. A well managed website enables agencies to effectively reach their target audience with key messages; while providing users with relevant information and effective use of their time and effort.

The internet offers many people with disabilities opportunities that are not available through other mediums. It offers independence, freedom and inclusiveness. A web site that is not accessible may exclude a segment of the population that stands to gain the most from its content.

Website accessibility standards have been created to ensure equal access to information for all people. The Australian Government has endorsed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 for all government websites.

Advice on how to meet these standards is detailed in the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy (NTS), published on the Department of Finance (Finance) website.

In addition to this the NSW Government has established a National Disability Strategy (NDS) Implementation plan which has mandated web accessibility standards.

Who does accessibility apply to?

Accessibility requirements for websites are mandated under government policy, legislation, and through whole-of-government commitments.

In November 2009, the Online and Communications Council endorsed WCAG 2.0, requiring all Australian, state and territory government websites to conform to the guidelines to meet WCAG 2.0 Level A by December 2012.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 agencies must ensure that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights to access information and services as others in the community. Agencies must abide by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes to mitigate risk of disability discrimination complaint.

What does this mean for my agency?

Agencies must update all government websites to meet WCAG 2.0 requirements

  • Level A (Single A) by 31 December 2012
  • Level AA (Double A) by 31 December 2014

Agencies should not rely upon any web technology that cannot claim WCAG 2.0 conformance. Agencies must provide alternative formats upon request, but should not rely on this defence, nor consider it an appropriate long-term solution to providing accessible versions. An alternative to PDF documents should be provided (preferably in HTML) and should always be published at the same time.

Agencies will be required to report on their WCAG 2.0 compliance in line with the NTS. The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and Department of Premier and Cabinet will provide advice to agencies on reporting requirements.