Newsletter 1

23 November, 2010

In this issue

  1. New Web Accessibility Program Leader
  2. Human Rights Commission endorses WCAG 2.0
  3. PDF and Accessibility
  4. Stat of the week

New Web Accessibility Program Leader

Hi everybody, my name is Andew Normand and I am the University of Melbourne's new Web Accessibility Program Leader.

My role involves trying to ensure that the University of Melbourne web presence is accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities.

Already in my brief time at Melbourne I have been impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by web publishers and staff in relation to accessibility.

Some of the things that I will be working on initially are:

  • Conducting a Training Needs Analysis
  • Identifying key web sites
  • Conducting a Risk Assessment
  • Formulating a Web Accessibility Strategy

I look forward to meeting everyone in due course and please do not hesitate to contact me with any accessibility related queries that you might have.

Human Rights Commission endorses WCAG 2.0

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) has finally endorsed WCAG 2.0 as the new compliance standard that Australian web sites should be working towards.

WCAG 2.0 was adopted by the W3C in December of 2008. Its initial take-up was somewhat slow but it is now gathering pace, with the Federal Government releasing its Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy in June of this year.

So what does it all mean for us? Well, HREOC is now advising that all non-government websites or web resources that undergo substantial change in the period July - December 2013 should comply with WCAG 2.0 to a minimum level of AA conformance.

More on the transition to WCAG 2.0 is available here

PDF and Accessibility

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) has finally released its long awaited review of PDF Accessibility.

HREOC's conclusion is that "PDF cannot be regarded as a sufficiently accessible format to provide a user experience for a person with a disability that is equivalent to that available to a person without a disability, and which is also equivalent to that obtained from using the document marked up in traditional HTML.

Accordingly, organisations that publish documents only in PDF risk complaint under the DDA unless they make the content available in at least one additional format and in a manner that incorporates principles of accessible document design. Additional formats should be published simultaneously with the PDF version, and at least one such format should be downloadable as a single document if the PDF version is available as a single download."

The University of Melbourne is keen to comply with industry standards, to avoid complaints under federal and state legislation, and most importantly, to satisfy the needs of its web users. Accordingly, the provision of web documents in PDF format alone, is not recommended.

The full reasoning behind the HREOC's approach to PDF is worth a read and can be found here

Stat of the week

When Screen Reader users try to find information on a lengthy web page, 51% use heading tags to navigate. Only 10% read through the page.

So the use of <h1> - <h6> tags not only makes your code cleaner, it also makes your page a lot easier to navigate.

Previous Issues

Previous issues of the Web Accessibility Newsletter are available here.

Contact Andrew Normand, Web Accessibility Program Leader
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867