Equal access to information and online services enables the full and independent participation by people with a disability in our digital economy. It not only makes good business and marketing sense, but is also consistent with our society’s obligations to remove discrimination and promote human rights. So how well are we going?
To answer that question we need to look at three elements. The legislation and international treaties, Government policy responses to support that legislation and finally practices we have in place that support the policy and legislation.
Element 1: Legislation
The Australian Human Rights Commission highlights that equal access to information and online services is a:
- right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (2006) Australia is a signatory to the Convention.
- requirement by law under Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and Disability Standards for Education(2005).
- procurement standard under Australian Standard AS EN 301 549:2016 Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services (2016)
Element 2: Policy responses
- 2000: Requirement for Australian Government departments and agencies to provide accessible information and online services as part of e-Government Strategy.
- 2009: Australian Government, State and Territory Governments and the New Zealand Government agreed on a National Transition Strategy (NTS) on Web Accessibility. The NTS roadmap stipulated that all government websites (federal, state and territory) had to meet a minimum of Web CoWCAG 2.0 Level A compliance by the end of 2012. Furthermore, Federal Government websites had to meet a minimum of WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance by the end of 2014 in most states by December 2015
- 2010: National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. Aa ten year plan (2010-2020) for enabling people with a disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
- 2010: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability
- 2012: NSW Premiers directive under C2012-08 NSW Government Website Management
- 2014: NSW Disability Inclusion Act 2014 No 41
- 2016: Marrakesh Treaty for people with print disability
- 2016: Australia implements Australian Standard EN 301 549 on accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services.
- 2017: NSW updates ICT services scheme (SCM0020) rules to include the Australian Standard EN 301 549. (Full implementation July 2018)
Element 3: Practices
Policy into practice, coming soon. Topics covered to include.
- Mapping organisational information systems and online services
- Building awareness of the need for digital inclusion (internal and external)
- Embedding inclusive culture in ICT procurement and creation and publishing and capturing of digital content.