Thursday, 23 May 2019 00:46

SA Government launching state online accessibility policy

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SA Government launching state online accessibility policy Image Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The South Australian Government is set to launch a new online accessibility policy, and online toolkit, to assist all organisations in the state to create more accessible, digital platforms.

The policy and toolkit have been developed in consultation with Vision Australia, Royal Society for the Blind (SA), people with lived experience with disability and other key stakeholders in the disability sector.

South Australian Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink says it is critical government websites are developed to ensure everyone in the community can easily access them and no one is left behind.

“It is vital that online content is accessible for those most in need and is also helps breakdown barriers for people with disability and allows them to participate independently in the community.”

The new policy is designed to help a range of people including:

  • A person with vision impairment who requires a screen reader to navigate or contribute to a Web page;
  • Older people with age-related challenges;
  • People with temporary incapacities such as a broken arm or lost glasses;
  • People using a slow internet connection or those who have limited or expensive bandwidth; and
  • People using internet devices that may not be running the latest software version.

The new toolkit gives users practical tips to improve online accessibility for everyone, including:

  • Visual design – having enough contrast between the text and its background colour;
  • Language – making sure language is in plain English and easy to understand;
  • Formatting – using the right heading styles and descriptive hyperlinks to ensure a screen reader can navigate the text in order;
  • Video and audio content – using captions and transcripts, so users have the option to read instead of listen, or to translate into other languages; and
  • Images – adding a caption and text behind the image to ensure if it’s unable to be viewed, users can understand what is in the image.

Lensink said the new toolkit would be made available to all organisations to use, including local government, private enterprise and the not-for-profit sector.

“I encourage all organisations across South Australia to review their website content and make use of these free resources to help improve access for everyone," she said.

“The co-design of this policy and toolkit is another example of the State Government’s commitment to ensure people with disability have the leading role in shaping policies and creating programs which influence their lives.”

Vision Australia’s National Manager of Digital Access, Neil King, said: “It’s great to see the state government taking a leadership position and creating a toolkit that will assist all South Australian organisations to think about how they develop digitally accessible platforms.

“We support more than 25,500 people across Australia who are blind or have low vision and we’re confident this toolkit and more accessible digital platforms will help those people achieve the possibilities that they choose in life.”

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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