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Two thirds of councils pass stage one accessibility to qualify for full Better Connected test

Fri 06 Jan 2017
Vicky Sargent

Testing was carried out by Better Connected’s accessibility partner, the Digital Accessibility Centre, using automated and tools and manual checking. Every member of the DAC user testing team has a disability, among them visual impairment, dyslexia, mobility impairment and learning disabilities.

The stage one test examines home pages only on the 14 testing criteria used in the full test. Sites that fail stage one will have done so because their home page has keyboard traps (criterion 4), or lacks the visible focus indicators (criterion 5) that help keyboard only users find their way around. Sites may also fail stage one if they fail on 7 or more of the 14 criteria.

Results of the stage one tests are available now for every UK council on their individual results page.

Councils that have failed stage one have until 27 January to fix the accessibility issues affecting their home page and apply for a re-test. If successful, they can proceed to stage two, when testing will apply the 14 criteria to three ‘top tasks’ per council, including one from a mobile device, as well as a range of top level pages.

Only councils that pass stage one and two of the accessibility test can achieve four stars in Better Connected.

The accessibility of websites to people with disabilities, who account for around 15% of the UK population, is extremely important. It should be built-in to the design of websites and the third party systems they use (ie software that manage services people access via council websites, like library or planning or council tax management systems). All forms and documents presented via websites should be accessible too, and videos, imagery and elements of the website that move, should be presented in ways that accommodate disabled people.

Accessibility cannot be guaranteed by coders or third party site designers (although specifications for items they provide should require these to be accessible). Content editors need also to be aware of things they do that may introduce accessibility barriers, like adding images with no ‘alternative text’ or links like ‘click here’ that may not be meaningful when read out by a screen reader.

The pass rate for this year’s stage one test is comparable to the 64% pass rate for the full test last year. The fact that some sites that passed the full test then, but have failed the limited stage on test now, illustrates the fact that maintaining the accessibility of a website requires knowledge and constant vigilance, since it is very easy to introduce accessibility problems with even simple updates. Better Connected is determined to raise awareness of accessibility issues, and understanding of how to manage them, among those responsible for digital services within local authorities.’

Further information is available at https://betterconnected.socitm.net/usability/accessibility/2016-17

Individual council results can be found by following links from the council index page https://betterconnected.socitm.net/councils

 

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