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Comments on Working Draft of "Improving Access to Government..."

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009 00:40:17 -0400
To: <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Cc: EOWG <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20090427044138.AEDC94EECA@homer.w3.org>
Dear eGov IG Editors and Authors,

The following comments on the 10 March 2009 Working Draft on 
"Improving Access to Government through Better Use of the Web"[1] 
supplement comments already sent by WAI EOWG participants [2], which I support.

1) Given the stated goals of the eGov IG to inform the usage of Web 
standards for more effective use of the Web by governments, the 
importance of ensuring openness and transparency of government data, 
the fact that accessibility barriers often hinder access for hundreds 
of millions of people worldwide who have disabilities, and the 
already widespread use of W3C/WAI guidelines in many countries to 
help ensure accessibility of government Web sites, it seems 
appropriate to include a more explicit reference to accessibility at 
the TOC level of this document.

My suggestion would be to include this reference under "The W3C 
eGovernment Interest Group (eGov IG) seeks and aspires to become a 
critical link in assisting governments with the promise of electronic 
government" in place of, or in addition to, the current "Inclusive 
Access to Information" which appears to refer to a more diverse set 
of issues, including as people not yet online. This refocused or 
additional section could be titled "Accessibility for People with 

The contents of the new section could include some of the material 
suggested under 3.1 of the EOWG comments, but to maintain consistency 
with the rest of the document, I suggest that it also make reference 
to the broader policy context driving adoption of accessibility 
guidelines in many countries, and that it also reference one of the 
most pressing issues in adoption of accessibility standards, which is 
the important of standards harmonization. These two issues could be 
addressed with language along the following lines:

"Given that people with disabilities represent between ten and twenty 
percent of the population of most countries, ensuring accessibility 
of government Web sites is an important aspect of openness and 
transparency of government data. This need has been made more 
explicit by the 2008 passage of the United Nations Convention on the 
Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which among other fundamental 
human rights includes the right of access to information."

It would need a parallel subsection under "How Can Open Government 
Data Be Achieved?" which could be entitled "Ensuring Accessibility" 
and which could state:

"The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, from W3C's Web 
Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provide an effective solution for 
ensuring accessibility of government Web content and applications. 
Harmonization with W3C's international standards for Web 
accessibility has emerged as an important issue, since fragmentation 
into divergent standards slows the development of supporting 
authoring and evaluation tools."

2) I encourage the eGov IG to pursue additional copyediting, 
particularly of the abstract and introduction sections, and if 
possible to shorten the latter, before finalizing this document, as 
there is a great deal of good material in this document which in the 
working draft does not come through entirely clearly.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if additional 
suggestions of wording for an accessibility section might be helpful. 
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Best regards,

- Judy

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2009/WD-egov-improving-20090310/
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-egov-ig/2009Apr/0174.html

Want an accessible Web site?
Check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Judy Brewer    +1.617.258.9741
Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
MIT/CSAIL Building 32-G526
32 Vassar Street
Cambridge, MA,  02139,  USA  
Received on Monday, 27 April 2009 04:41:49 UTC

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