Web Accessibility in the Spot Light

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With WCAG 2.0 ‘AA’ accessibility guidelines now mandatory for all Australian government departments (since December 2014) from federal down to local it is really interesting to see how many are now racing to catch up. What does it really mean? Who is taking it seriously and does it impact SMEs?

In our experience, currently there is a huge mix of success stories verses those departments that know they need to act, but haven’t allocated any budget to the requirement and a lying low!

Background

For a number of years now, the accessibility requirements for websites has been under the spotlight and in many instances there are some good outcomes. Not only does having a site optimised for AA compliance is good for your users, but usually for Google search as well. Webmasters often factor it in as part of the initial build process and as a result, there is plenty of knowledge in the industry about keeping your website compliant and what to do a code level. However, what has been largely forgotten is the other resources that are available on your website need to be compliant as well! This means downloadable Word documents and PDFs to name a few.

What is an accessible PDF?

Similar to content within a website, in order to ensure a screen-reader can successfully ‘speak’ the content to the vision impaired user, so too PDFs and Word documents need to be modified so that screen-readers can navigate and communicate the content to the user.

I recently attended a training session by Vision Australia, as part of our TaggedPDF.com.au service, and it highlighted the HUGE gap in what organisations are doing for AA compliance and what AA compliance actually should be.

Getting serious about WCAG 2.0 AA Compliance

AA compliance doesn’t mean converting your MS Word document to a PDF and hoping for the best. It is detailed ‘tagging’ of the elements document to ensure the flow of the content is structured correctly, images communicate the right message, tabular data is logical, colours are in contrast and forms contained within the document are usable.

Yes, it is a time intensive process. Yes, it is best done by someone who knows what they are doing and no, your website isn’t AA compliant if your downloadable resources are not also compliance.

If you would like to know more please give the PDF Tagging team a call at TaggedPDF – we can advise you of the steps you need to take to meet the guidelines. Our ProTaggers have been skilling up over the past 18 months and are ready to help.

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