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Action required now by sites falling short in stage one accessibility test - especially if going for a four star overall result in 2017-18

Fri 05 Jan 2018
Vicky Sargent

60% of Socitm subscribing councils tested have passed our stage one accessibility test (checking sites are accessible to people with disabilites and other impairments) and will progress automatically to stage two, providing they are paid up with their Socitm subscription for 2018. 

Pass/fail results have been published on council landing pages. Access these via the councils index page. Councils that failed can access further information on why they failed by logging in and following the links.

The stage one test examines home pages only on the 14 testing criteria used in the full Better Connected test, which must be passed before councils can be awarded the top Better Connected rating for local authority websites of 4 stars.

86% of the stage one accessibility failures were because the home page lacked ‘visible focus indicators’. These highlight links, tabs and other key elements. Absence of these indicators means that keyboard only users cannot navigate the website, find content, or determine where they are on a page or application.

71% of sites tested were marked down for absence of ‘skip links’, mainly used by screen reader users for bypassing or 'skipping' over repetitive web page content. While this absence would fall foul of WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards, and would have failed in last year’s Better Connected test, DAC regard this absence as ‘inconvenient’ rather that ‘difficult’ in terms of completing a journey. Consequently absence of skip links is not sufficient on its own to cause this test to be failed.

64% of sites tested were marked down on (but not failed) for lack of ‘meaningful links in context’. This impacts blind users who use screen reading software and need links to make sense when read out of context – which links like ‘Click here’ or ‘more’ do not.

35% of sites tested were marked down (but not failed) on movement. This impacts cognitive impaired, dyslexic and low vision users, as well as blind users who use screen reading software. If there is movement of any kind on the page that lasts for more than 5 seconds then a user, including keyboard and mouse users, should be able to pause that movement. As with skip links, while absence of such tools would fall foul of WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards, DAC regard this as inconvenient rather than ‘difficult’ in terms of completing a journey and not sufficient on its own to constitute a task fail.

Other criteria where more than a third of sites tested were marked down (but not sufficiently to fail) included criterion 2: good heading structure (63%), criterion 8: appropriate text alternatives for images (39%), and criterion 9: sufficient colour contrast (49%). 36% of sites tested scored 7 on criterion 6, which requires clear labels and instructions for forms. This issue impacts blind users who use screen reading software.

Councils that have failed stage one accessibility will NOT be put forward for stage two testing unless they write to us at betterconnected.socitm.net, by our deadline of 26 January 2018, stating that they have fixed the issues identified and wish to go forward for stage two testing.

They must also be paid up with their Socitm 2018 subscription, and send a purchase order for £75 to cover administration costs (made out to Boilerhouse Communications Limited). A successful stage two accessibility test is required to get a 4 star rating overall in Better Connected

As in previous years, accessibility testing was carried out for Better Connected by the Digital Accessibility Centre, using automated and tools and manual checking. The DAC team includes expert evaluators as well as two user testing teams with disabilities including visual impairment, dyslexia, mobility impairment and learning disabilities as well as in house developer capability.

The stage one test examines home pages only on the 14 testing criteria used in the full Better Connected test which must be passed before councils can be awarded the top Better Connected rating for local authority websites of 4 stars. You can access a document with the revised criteria for accessibility testing in 2017-18 from the library of the Web Improvement Group in the Knowledge Hub (login required).

Individual council results can be found for individual council results pages linked from the council index page.

 

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