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Opening Pandora’s Box – Making Government 2.0 Websites More Accessible

2009 October 14
by Peter Alexander [Taskforce Secretariat]

The rise of new Web 2.0 technologies and content models brings with it increasingly complex challenges for Government agencies to keep their websites accessible e.g AJAX objects, dynamic content, Rich Internet Applications and user generated content.

While we want our Government agencies to be braver and experiment with these new technologies and content models, we don’t want them to abandon their responsibilities to provide universal access to public sector information by applying best practice in accessibility and usability.

To reward rather than punish some of our braver agencies, we thought we would run a slightly different type of contest that will give them a helping hand to improve the accessibility of their Government 2.0 websites. To help the Taskforce with this process, we have enlisted the assistance of Media Access Australia to help us select, review and hopefully also fix-up a couple of Government 2.0 websites.

Are we opening Pandora’s Box by running a contest about Government 2.0 accessibility? Most probably yes, but we can’t ignore the elephant in the room and the best way we reinforce the message that accessibility is just as serious a responsibility for Government 2.0 website as it was for Government 1.0 is to lead by example and show that Government 2.0 and accessibility can comfortably co-exist.

The Challenge

We want you to nominate Government websites that have implemented Web 2.0 technologies and techniques so we can put them up for an accessibility make-over (which won’t be nearly as cheesy as those make over reality TV shows).

The Makeover Process

Based on your nominations and feedback, we will select up to five websites that will be added to the Australian Web Access Review website for two weeks to obtain more detailed community and user feedback. Based on this feedback, MAA will prepare a “makeover” action plan with recommendations for how these sites could be given a makeover to improve their accessibility.  The Taskforce will then engage with the agencies about how they can implement their action plan, and we may even commission a project to engage a consultant to provide them with any technical assistance or expertise that they need. We can’t promise that this process will fix every accessibility issue with these websites, but we think we can make some real progress that will inspire and teach other agencies how to handle some of the accessibility challenges of web 2.0 (which should make it easier for them to embrace Government 2.0).

Category Prize

As with the Suggest a Dataset challenge, no prizes will be awarded in this category – any improvements to agency websites we can facilitate will be a reward that everyone can benefit from!

Entries for this challenge are due by 5pm, October 30 5PM, November 6, although after that we’ll leave the IdeaScale page open and running for continued discussion and participation.

Also note that as before all submissions will be subject to the IdeaScale Terms and Conditions, which also has instructions about how to create an account for our IdeaScale page.

Visit Government 2.0 Taskforce Ideas – Web 2.0 Accesibility Makeover

4 Responses
  1. 2009 October 29
    Hugh Barnes permalink

    This is definitely something that’s needed. I think 99% of Australian government websites would be vastly improved as a result. However, I would feel more comfortable entrusting the makeovers to a campaign which can set a good example itself. The AWARE website is a little short of the mark and needs the first makeover.

    • 2009 November 18
      Belinda Kerslake permalink

      Hi Hugh
      We are very open to any suggestions on improvements to the AWARe website, which we have tested with users with disabilities. If there’s things we haven’t picked up on, please feel free to email me or make comments in the community forum on the site.

      The website is new and on the site we ask for peoples’ views and feedback, however it would be helpful if you could be a little more specific in your feedback.

      Thank you
      Belinda Kerslake
      Media Access Australia – a not-for-profit which seeks to provide information about media access and to support development of technological solutions to media access for those with disabilities.

  2. 2009 November 2

    Please note that as with the Not for Profit PSI contest, the contest deadline for the Web 2.0 Accessibility Makeover contest has now been extended a week until 5PM November 6. We’ve updated this blog post and the contest Terms and Conditions page to reflect this.

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