Digital Transformation Agency: Make your digital content accessible to everyone

Digital content – websites, apps and software of the kind that many community radio stations might use to provide information to listeners and engage subscribers – is often not accessible to everyone.

Every year the Digital Inclusion Index looks at the extent of digital access in the Australian population. https://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/the-index-report/report/

They comment that “digital inclusion is a necessary condition for the social, eocnomic, and environmental transformations set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” whose aim it is to reduce inequality.

Some of their 2020 findings:

Access is still a problem for 2.5 million Australians

Ability to use and access the internet and websites is affected by cost, geography and skills/capacity

People with disability are consistently amongst the lowest in digital access, at 10 points below the national average in 2020

digital exclusion reduces peoples options for communcating and staying connected with thier communities, especially when they have low mobility

COVID-19 exacerbated the access problems of those groups with low access scores

While the DII does measure access to digital technologies and the internet, it does not measure how accessible that technology is at the level of comprehension. Vision and cognitive differences including blindness, colourblindness, age, poor eyesight and low literacy can be a barrier to access when content is complicated, crowded or poorly contrasting. Website can sometimes compromise comprehension and navagability for style, reducing their utility to users. For this reason, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were developed.

The Digital Transformation Agency is an Australian government body whose role it to help Australian government services meet the needs of people who use them.

“You need to make sure everyone who needs your service can use it. This includes people with disability and older people, and people who can’t use, or struggle with, digital services.

Your service must be accessible to users regardless of their digital confidence and access to a digital environment. This includes users in remote areas and users with different devices.

You also have a legal requirement to ensure your service is usable and accessible to people with disabilities (see the Disability Discrimination Act 1992). Australian Government agencies are required to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA, which includes Level A (see mandate in Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy). You are strongly encouraged to meet WCAG 2.1 Level AA which will provide a more accessible experience. Conforming to WCAG 2.1 means you also conform with 2.0.”

Find out more about the Digital Transformation Agency’s advice here: https://www.dta.gov.au/help-and-advice/digital-service-standard/digital-service-standard-criteria/9-make-it-accessible

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