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UN Report on Web Accessibility

2006 was an interesting year for web accessibility, not least because the initial findings from the first global look at web accessibility were published last month.

Working on the United Nations (UN) commissioned report was a wonderful experience for the team at Nomensa. Launching the research on the International Day of Disabled Persons was a poignant moment, and being present at UN headquarters whilst the last meeting of the Ad Hoc committee responsible for drawing up the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was a wonderful opportunity.

Global Audit of Web Accessibility

The results of the report showed that the problems faced by disabled people online are similar, no matter where in the world they are. The report looked at 20 countries, representing all but one of the continents. With clauses 9(g) and 21(c) of the convention in mind, it focused on 5 sectors, each addressing a key area of daily interaction online.

Just 3 of the 100 websites evaluated during the report achieved Single-A accessibility under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0), although many more sites were within one or two checkpoints of the same target. The British Prime Minister’s website, Spanish President’s website and the German Chancellor’s website were the three websites in question.

To give you a flavour of what the report turned up:

  • 78% used foreground and background colour combinations with poor contrast, making it difficult for people with mild visual conditions such as colour blindness to read information;
  • 97% used fixed units of measurement, preventing people from altering the size of text or comfortably resizing the page so that content can be easily scaled;
  • 89% failed to use the correct technique for conveying document structure through the use of headings, making page navigation awkward for many visually impaired people;
  • 87% caused pop-up windows to appear without warning the user, causing disorientation problems for people using screen magnification software;
  • 93% did not provide adequate text descriptions for graphical content, causing problems for visually impaired people.

The research suggests that with remarkably little effort, the majority of websites evaluated could achieve Single-A accessibility. That’s a fairly significant step along the path to supporting people’s interactions and experiences online.

For more information about the UN Global Audit of Web Accessibility and to obtain a copy of the report, please visit Nomensa’s Website.


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