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Draft Notes on Web Accessibility from Prospective of Various Countries

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@wiscmail.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003 20:37:35 -0500
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-id: <005e01c344f1$829696a0$056fa8c0@USD320002X>

Draft Notes on Web Accessibility from Prospective of Various Countries


The following is a summary of the notes I took during the face to face.
Since I was chairing the meeting while I was scribbling these notes, I may
not have gotten everything correct.  Those who are familiar with each
country, please correct any misstatements that I make here.


Of course, it needs to be recognized that everything is more complicated
than more simple summary statements, however, from the discussions, this is
an attempt to provide some summary comments that will help people not
familiar with the different countries understand what the situations are.




The approach in Australia has not been to lay out specific guidelines, but
rather to simply say that the web must be accessible or you must fix it.
WCAG is recognized as the best way to fix it.  Thus, WCAG is not mandated,
but it is recognized as the best way of meeting the mandate.


Government sites must be accessible.


Public accommodation sites (sites that are open to the general public or
which the general public can sign up for services on) should be made
accessible if it's not too expensive.  "Not too expensive" is a fairly
rigorous test.  Three percent of one's budget may not be considered "too
much".  Regarding 2.0, the Australian government is waiting for 2.0 and is
interested in its use.  (Note: The term public accommodation is not a legal
term in Australia.)




Spain is writing national standards.  They are using WCAG 1.0, but doing
some interpretation.  It is expected that they will adopt 2.0 when it comes




It is expected that Italy will have a law before the end of the year.
Separate from the law will be regulations or specifics.


At the present time, there are lots of recommendations.  There are
approximately 12 proposals in Parliament at the present time.  There are 4
or 5 main proposals, one of which is from the minister of innovation and
technology.  This proposal is currently somewhat "508 like" in that it is
based on the work of the W3C, but rewords things.  This proposal is
currently influx and being modified in order to incorporate other proposals
and ideas.  Efforts are being made to see how much alignment can be
eventually created.  It is not clear at this time exactly how things will
work out in the end.  At the present time, there is not much enforcement.
Approximately 3% of sites are believed to be accessible.


The also noted the ISO/TS 16071 refers to the W3C.




Accessibility is believed to be desirable, but there are no regulations.  AT
is a large problem in Israel at this time, particularly screen readers.  One
of the problems is the fact that common practices to leave all of the vowels
out of words.  This works fine for Braille readers, but screen readers have
great difficulty with this.  It was stated that it could cause 3 years'
salary to purchase a screen reader which is able to handle and interpret
words that are missing all of their vowels.




Not strongly oriented toward the WCAG.  It wasn't clear, but it seemed that
they would prefer that you made a law.  However, Sweden has also been known
to go its own way if it felt the laws or regulations did not fit.




Since 1999, Scotland has had the Discrimination Act.  WCAG 1.0 is currently
being used.  Currently, government bodies are using consultants plus Bobbie.
Thus, the aspects of 1.0 that are probably most being used are those that
are automatically testable.  Regarding WCAG 2.0: It will likely take time to
adopt and probably will be based on cases.




The U.S. Government is using Section 508, which was derived from WCAG 1.0
with some items added and some priorities rearranged.  Not all agencies in
the government are addressing it with equal effort.  In the private sector,
there is a mixture of WCAG 1.0 and Section 508.  Section 508 is often used
because of the availability of tools and the perception that it is easier.
In some cases, it is seen as more restrictive.  Also, some companies are
very interested in establishing the fact that they are not covered by 508
and therefore are purposefully using WCAG 1.0, particularly in illegal
documents (when they agree to make something accessible).


For clarification:  The Section 508 guidelines are only required for
government websites or websites that are developed by the private sector
specifically for the government.  The 508 standards may at some other time
be used for other purposes.  However, the 508 law only applies to government
sites.  (Note:  The 508 law should not be confused with the 508
Accessibility Standards which were created to help implement the law.)
Anyone can use the 508 standards.  Government agencies are required to.




Laws and regulations are implemented on a national level.  However, all
universities and schools follow state laws rather than federal law.  There
are currently 16 states.  Seven have disability discrimination laws.  Of
these, two are older than the federal law and therefore have no information
technology provisions in their disability discrimination laws.  The other
five used the federal law and therefore have the ID provisions.


The federal law took WCAG 1.0 and invited input.  They then constructed
their own set of guidelines which fall into two categories.


Priority 1 - Which is a must for all.

Priority 2 - Which is a must for entry pages and key pages.  They should be
followed on the rest.


New content must follow the guidelines now.  By August 2005, all content
must legally follow the guidelines or be removed.


The federal disability discrimination act has a provision for review in the
next three years, thus, it will be coming up for review about the same time
that WCAG 2.0 is being released.


We do not currently have a mapping of the priority 1 and priority 2 German
guidelines to WCAG 1.0 and 2.0.  However, one of the working group members
has volunteered to create such a mapping for us.




There's nothing solid in law.  Some Belgium sites are working on
accessibility, but not many yet.  There's on agreement on a level.  Most are
going for level A.  There may be a law.  If so, it would be in the second
half of 2004.  If there is a law, it will be based on WCAG.


United Kingdom


It was felt that it will only be a matter of time before a case would be
brought.  The disability research council assessed 1,000 sites.  Then 100
sites in more detail.  Apparently, only 2 of the 100 sites met level A.
This got people's attention.  Testing was done with Bobbie (and it was
believed that it was mostly just the auto--testing part of Bobbie). 


They have been using level A from 1.0.  With regard to 2.0, they are
watching the United States and Australia and will be making their judgments
after 2.0 comes out.


Report on Web Access in EU


There's currently a report out on Web Access in the EU.  It is at
europa.eu.int.  The full URL is:






Corrections please.

As noted above, these are based on my notes.  If you notice anything on here
that is incorrect or misleading, please let me know and I will correct it
and post a revised version.




 -- ------------------------------ 
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D. 
Professor - Ind. Engr. & BioMed Engr.
Director - Trace R & D Center 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Received on Monday, 7 July 2003 21:38:46 UTC

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