Website accessibility should be built into local authority software and IT systems procurement criteria, the leading annual review of all UK council websites has found.
More local authorities should also carry out user-testing on their websites using groups of people with disabilities, according to Better Connected 2011 ( bit.ly/hBOGUw ), conducted by the public sector Society of IT Management (Socitm).
A direct accessibility test was carried out for the survey of all 433 UK council websites, based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Using these guidelines, just 30 councils (7%) achieved the basic ‘Level A’ standard, compared with a similar number – 32 – in 2010. As in previous years, no council achieved ‘Level AA’ – the standard which the previous government encouraged all councils to reach.
Although the tests continue to use version 1.0 of WCAG ( bit.ly/cmbc4g ), the report says it is likely to switch to use of the newer version 2.0 guidelines for next year’s survey.
As in previous years the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), which advises Socitm on accessibility, carried out its own separate qualitative assessment for the survey on all sites that passed an automated test. This year, some 241 councils (56%) were rated by RNIB as satisfactory or excellent using this follow-up assessment of accessibility, compared with only 187 (43%) in 2010.