New Zealand implementing Web Site Guidelines
The Government has set a January 1, 2006 deadline for websites to meet the New Zealand Government Web Guidelines version 2.1, though it has not assessed how much this may cost.
A cabinet paper written by State Services Minister Trevor Mallard says that people who have disabilities, live in the wrong place, or can't afford the latest technology face difficulties accessing government websites.
The guidelines aim to ensure websites work on old PCs with Internet connections as slow as 9.6kbps, use the Maori language consistently and take account of disabilities.
The deadline applies to the websites of all public service departments, including Police, Defence, the Parliamentary Counsel Office and the Security Intelligence Service. They will self-audit their compliance.
The guidelines, which were first introduced in December 2002, remain voluntary for state-owned enterprises and local government.
A few statements from the guidleines that I really like a lot:
"Equity means being fair and reasonable. People have no choice about where to go to get government services. Only one agency issues passports and one collects taxes. This places an onus on agencies to make their websites widely accessible."
Better service means:
- Better discovery (I can find what I need)
- Better delivery (I get what I need)
- Better accessibility (I get it the way I need it)
"Accessibility is not simply a checkbox to be ticked during website redevelopment. Accessibility is an attitude that should permeate all aspects of the development and delivery of information and services online. As small a thing as incorrect spelling can affect accessibility for some users."
Web Content Accessibility
Content on New Zealand government websites must be developed and presented in accordance with the WAI guidelines. Content developers
- must satisfy priority 1 checkpoints (see exemption below)
- should satisfy priority 2 checkpoints
- may satisfy priority 3 checkpoints
of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.
Exemption: The WAI requirement to identify changes in natural language with the lang attribute (http://www.w3c.org/TR/WCAG10/#gl-abbreviated-and-foreign) does not extend to the Maori language in these Guidelines while support for correct rendering in screen readers does not extend to the Maori language.
Since a number of the priority 2 and 3 checkpoints are not especially onerous to implement, agencies should aim to go beyond the requirements of priority 1 where this can be done economically.