‘Municipality websites still do not meet many accessibility requirements’

Many municipal websites still do not meet the requirements of the web content accessibility guidelines, which should make it easier for people with disabilities to use a site. That would emerge from research.

It is a problem that municipalities have been dealing with for a long time. Eric Velleman, accessibility expert at the Accessibility Foundation, will present the results of his research on that subject at the University of Twente on Thursday, and hopes to obtain his PhD thereon, the foundation says. Until he defends his results in college, the full results are not yet public.

Of the 69 municipalities that have been examined, both very large and very small, none meet all the requirements, the study shows. The best scoring municipalities still do not meet 3 of the 38 criteria. On average, websites do meet the majority of the 38 requirements and do not ‘pass’ on 8 criteria.

It is striking that 88 percent of the surveyed municipalities do believe that the website is sufficiently accessible for people with disabilities. For example, respondents stated that they thought that only a text-to-speech tool was enough to meet the requirements, or that automatic tools can test whether a website meets, when these tools can only test a maximum of 15 percent of the criteria.

The researcher concludes that it is not a technical, but an organizational problem that causes the websites to fall short. “A website builder is given a list of requirements, something is delivered and that is then checked by no one. No one is looking: does this actually meet our requirements?” Velleman tells the NOS that.

The Accessibility Foundation stated ten years ago that government sites do not meet the accessibility requirements. An improvement is observed, but that is not the end of the matter. Municipal websites must meet all requirements from 2021, according to the relevant legislation.