eAccessibility of public sector services in the European Union
Produced by: Socitm Insight
This report presents results from a comprehensive assessment of the eAccessibility of government online services across the European Union.
eAccessibility is a critical requirement for any public service that is available online because it ensures that the benefits of service delivery are translated into reality for those groups of people who may face difficulty using, or even be excluded from, government information and services. This study breaks new ground in aiming to test how well the 25 Member States of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission meet this requirement in 2005, using the most appropriate combination of manual and automatic testing techniques.
The policy survey
The project has conducted a policy survey from Member States and the European Commission about possible factors that may influence accessibility such as national strategy, legal frameworks, monitoring arrangements, awareness, training and tools and other issues. The results have identified a wide range of policies for engaging practitioners in improving eAccessibility.
Summary of result across EU
This project conducted automatic testing of the accessibility of 436 government websites across the EU supported by manual testing across a sample of these. Consistent with similar studies that have taken place, the results found relatively few sites that achieve even Limited Pass Level A conformance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0). The project researched correlations between eAccessibility and policy, using information on the many potential factors for influencing success captured in the policy survey. The potential link between eAccessibility and online sophistication was also explored.
Detailed analysis of results
The testing of websites has identified clear examples of good practice, describing the approach that others should emulate if the accessibility of online public services across EU member states is to improve. It has also uncovered the common reasons why many websites are falling short of the required standards, firstly at Level A and secondly at Level Double-A. From this information a list of priorities has been developed that will achieve the greatest impact for disabled users with the most efficient use of resources.
The findings from the survey are clear. Online public services have a long way to go before they are fully accessible and inclusive. However, this research indicates that policy engagement is linked to the eAccessibility of government services and that rapid improvement is achievable through coordinated effort by those who are best placed to effect change - the public policy-makers in the EU, web managers and developers in public sector organisations and web designers in the software industry. We provide 21 detailed recommendations to be adopted by these key stakeholders.
Last modified: 19th January 2010
eAccessibility of public sector services in the European Union (864.12 KB PDF)