5 April 2023
Phillipa Martin

Meeting accessibility requirements

The Australian Government is committed to improving web accessibility. Two of the main accessibility compliance tools used by government departments in Australia are the Web Content Accessibility GuidelinesExternal Link (WCAG) and Australia’s Digital Service Standard (DSS), specifically ‘Make it accessibleExternal Link ’.

When building government websites it’s important to ensure they meet these accessibility requirements.


The Web Content Accessibility GuidelinesExternal Link (WCAG) are a series of web accessibility standards published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web ConsortiumExternal Link (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the internet.

WCAG 2.1 is broken into four areas:

  • Perceivable — content needs to be perceivable to users (e.g. colour contrast, non-text alternatives)

  • Operable — components and navigation must be operable (e.g. keyboard accessible)

  • Understandable (e.g. readable, clear instructions, etc.)

  • Robust to conform with other technologies

Within each set of standards, there are three different levels. As per previous thought leadership on accessibility (see What is web accessibility and why is it so important?, the three levels are:

  • Level A: This involves the smallest amount of implementation effort and has the lowest impact on the presentation and business logic on your site.

  • Level AA: This has a high impact for users and makes a higher impact on the system’s presentation and business logic. Most organisations choose to focus on Level AA.

  • Level AAA: These changes are usually for specific user populations and can be very difficult to adhere to.

Government departments generally need to meet WCAG 2.0 A, at a minimum. Salsa is currently using WCAG2.1 and designing solutions that meet the AA standard, which covers 50 standards. This includes our content services — for more information please see our blog, How to write accessible content — WCAG.

Digital Service Standard (DSS)

The Digital Service Standard provides guidance on how to create the best digital services. There are 13 standards and Number 9: Make it accessibleExternal Link deals specifically with accessibility. This standard states that everyone needs to be able to access and use your service.

It also mentions the legal requirement that services are usable and accessible by people with disabilities as part of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992External Link .

Salsa has been working within the Digital Service Standards for many years. In fact, we first wrote about the importance of following the standards in February 2017! See Following the DTA’s standards.

Salsa’s work in accessibility

Salsa shares the government’s vision of improving web accessibility. We’ve been actively working on our accessibility practice for the past 3 years. We currently employ an accessibility consultant and build accessibility into our projects early, in consultation with our clients.

As part of Salsa’s commitment to accessibility, in 2021 we introduced the accessibility starter kit (per our previous post), to help our clients and others create accessible websites. The starter kit includes:

Sample accessibility projects

Below are some of Salsa’s more recent projects that have featured accessibility.

  • Victorian Department of Health — accessibility covered as part of ticket discovery, design and testing

  • AccessHub — accessibility covered as part of ticket discovery, design and testing

  • Seniors Online — accessibility covered as part of ticket discovery, design and testing

  • Civil Aviation Safety Authority — accessibility audit

  • Bendigo Law Courts — accessibility audit

  • CivicTheme — accessibility audit