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Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
Home  > Inclusion and Accessibility  > News  > Forum for the Information Society - Web Accessibility

Forum for the Information Society - Web Accessibility

 - 06/05/2011

Logotype of UMIC’s Access Program The Web Content Accessibility for citizens with special needs was discussed at a session of the Forum for the Information Society held on the 5th of May 5 of 2011, at the Auditorium of SIBS, organized jointly by the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), and the Association for the Promotion and Development of Information Society (APDSI).

This session of the Forum discussed the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) approved by the W3C – World Wide Web Consortium in December 2008, which were published in Portuguese by UMIC on the 25th of February of 2009 (see Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) of the W3C Published in Portuguese). Portuguese was the 3rd language in the world in which the new accessibility guidelines were published, only after the original English publication and an Hungarian translation published a few weeks before the Portuguese.

A new computer tool developed by UMIC for automatic evaluating of accessibility of Web pages against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) was presented at this session of the Forum for the Information Society. This new tool results from the evolution of previous tools that have been developed and applied by UMIC since 2005 for the version 1.0 of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

The results of two evaluations of Web content accessibility carried out in 2010 were also presented, namely of the Central Public Administration websites and of the 1,000 largest enterprises in Portugal, the first done by UMIC and the second by APDSI. The two 2010 evaluations were compared with corresponding evaluations in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The best 10 enterprises were distinguished, and among them the best of all received a special award.

The following presentations were made:

The publication Forum for the Information Society – 4. Web Accessiblity: Opportunities and Challenges in Web Accessibility (text in Portuguese) was prepared with the main messages of the debate in the Forum, as compiled by the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC).

The accessibility of Web content to people with special needs is recognized as a central issue of rights to equal access to information and of citizenship. It also happens that the Internet and in general the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have reduced decisively many obstacles to accessibility for people with special needs. Today, with appropriate technical aids and ICT-based digital content conformant to basic accessibility standards, the access to information and applications of citizens suffering from various types of disabilities can be facilitated when not long there existed almost insurmountable obstacles without human help to access, for example, school or work documents, web content, multimedia applications, mobile communication equipment and digital television, etc.

In Portugal, the issues of accessibility to people with special needs in the Information Society were considered priorities as early as 1997 in the Green Paper on the Information Society in Portugal and with the creation in 1999, within the Ministry of Science and Technology, of the Access Unit – Accessibility for Citizens with Special Needs to Information Society, which pursued its activities at UMIC. The Access Unit was created after the adoption by the Council of Ministers in August 1999 of the National Initiative for Citizens with Special Needs in Information Society and the legal mandate for public websites to comply with accessibility requirements for citizens with special needs. Portugal was then the first European country and the 4th in the world to adopt this type of accessibility rules.

An article published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, under the title "Global Web Accessibility Analysis of National Government Portals and Ministry Web Sites" presented the first comprehensive analysis of the Web accessibility of 192 Member States of the United Nations (UN) and ranked Portugal in 2nd in the UN (see Portugal Rated 2nd in the UN on Government Websites Accessibility), with a value of 97.57% of Web accessibility, surpassed only by Germany with 98.72%.

The version of this page in Portuguese contains video-audio records of the interventions and debate.

Last updated ( 24/11/2011 )