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 (WCAG) and Australia’s Digital Service Standard (DSS), specifically ‘Make it ’.
When building government websites it’s important to ensure they meet these accessibility requirements.
The Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) are a series of web accessibility standards published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web (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 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 .
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:
Introducing the Salsa Accessibility Scoring System — Learn how to use our new accessibility scoring system to determine how compliant your website is against all WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards or WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
What is web accessibility and why is it so important? — Read about how web accessibility ensures that all users have an equivalent experience when using a website or app.
Accessibility barriers and how to remove them — Understand the barriers in creating accessible sites and how we can work together to remove them.
What’s the difference between manual and automated accessibility testing? — Learn about the different standards and tools for manual and automated accessibility testing.
Keeping your site accessible after an audit — How to maintain web accessibility after you have completed an accessibility audit
Salsa website — WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility audit — Find out how Salsa conducted our WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility audit and the lessons we learned. This content includes a downloadable accessibility audit report.
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