[Irl-dean] False Accessibility Developers

drice at nda.ie drice at nda.ie
Wed Mar 29 14:47:21 IST 2006

I have come across this issue a lot in my work and as Mark said it often 
comes down to people not knowing what they are asking for and 
(subsequently) not knowing what they are getting back when they commission 
a new website or site redevelopment. However there is also the question of 
capacity within some web development companies.   I have come across sites 
that although supposedly accessible showed no understanding or knowledge 
on the part of the developer of WCAG or any other web accessibility 
guidelines for that matter. 
I attended a seminar in Brussels on Monday entitled "Demonstrating 
Conformance with eAccessibility Requirements in ICT Products and 
Services".  Hosted by the Commission, it was attended by representatives 
from the W3C WAI,  from big industry (eg IBM), web development companies, 
member states, disability organisations and end users.  One of the 
motivations behind this seminar was that several years after the 
publication of guidelines and the implementation of fairly strong 
accessibility legislation in many countries we still seeing ICT products 
and services that should be accessible falling short of the mark.  The 
discussion during the day centred around certification and the two 
different types, namely:
so-called Self Declaration of Conformance (SDoC) whereby the vendor states 
how the product or service conforms with the relevant guidelines or 
3rd party certification, where the product or service is checked or 
certified by an 'independent' body. 
The day was spent discussing the ins and out of these two methods, with 
big industry favouring the former and end users and disability groups 
advocating the latter method.  The EU department that hosted the event 
made no commitment either way and said that in-line with a communication 
they recently sent to the commission they would be spending the next 18 
month to 2 years researching this issue.  But it certainly seems that 
certification is the way the EU is headed on this issue of trying to 
ensure the accessibility of ICT products and services.  Certainly the work 
of the Support-EAM people will be interesting when it is published in the 
next month or two, I believe Barry? 

As Mark said we are working with CFIT to produce an ICT Accessibility 
Procurement toolkit to help people buy accessible websites etc.  We have 
also produced a guide for people on how to commission and get the maximum 
benefit out of having their websites audited.  A draft of this guide 
"Website Accessibility Auditing, Guidance for Managers" will be published 
on the NDA website shortly for public consultation.  I will notify the 
mailing list when this happens.

We encourage colleagues in the public sector to get commissioned website 
work reviewed independently before sign-off.  This helps to ensure that 
they are getting what they asked for.  However we often get asked to look 
something over after it is a done deal and most times we do not get asked 
anything at all.

So if anyone in the public sector is planning to or in the process of 
developing a website please let us know and we will provide whatever 
assistance we can.


irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie wrote on 29/03/2006 13:14:00:

> Brendan,
> The false claims you have come across are by no means unusual. In April
> 2004, Ennis Information Age Services assessed the websites of 30
> randomly selected Government Departments and agencies. Of the three
> sites that displayed the WCAG conformance logo, two of them did so
> inappropriately, as they were actually found to be non-compliant. I
> don't have it to hand, but I seem to remember the recent UK cabinet
> office sponsored report may have included similar findings. Barry?
> It is clear that accessibility is being taken seriously by the public
> sector but many organisations are still getting it wrong and in many
> cases do not realise that they have got it wrong. It may be that some
> developers are selling on false premises but procurers lack the
> competence to assess the results. Or it may be that in some cases both
> the developer and the procurer lack competence and neither realises that
> they have not achieved what they think they have.
> But what can we do about it? Well, as we speak, NCBI CFIT are designing
> an Accessible ICT Procurement Toolkit for the NDA. One of the main aims
> of the toolkit will be to provide guidance and practical advice to
> procurers on how to request tenders, assess tenders, work with
> developers and assess the results so that they can be sure that, where
> accessibility is concerned, they get what they want and are in a
> position to know whether they have got it. The toolkit will be released
> probably during July or thereabouts and should be highlighted on the
> eTenders website. We are hoping that it will become the definitive guide
> for public sector procurers at least, although it will also be of use to
> private sector organisations. In the meantime, procurers might be
> advised to read the recently released BSI PAS78 Guide to Good Practice
> in Commissioning Accessible Websites. This is a Publicly Available
> Specification published by the British Standards Institute. It gives
> guidance for website commissioners (procurers) on how to get someone to
> build you an accessible website. It covers thing like the steps that
> should be taken and the role of guidelines, specifications, software
> tools and user testing within the development lifecycle. It can be
> bought for 30 pounds sterling from the BSI at
> www.bsonline.bsi-global.com.
> Mark
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie 
> > [mailto:irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie] On Behalf Of brendan spillane
> > Sent: 27 March 2006 14:27
> > To: Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
> > Subject: [Irl-dean] False Accessibility Developers
> > 
> > 
> > Hi everyone
> > 
> > I have a problem..
> > 
> > Recently I have come across cases where website developers are falsely
> > claiming accessibility for the websites of some organisations.
> > 
> > One of these, a major website developer is claiming accessibility for
> > 2 government websites which are in fact not accessible. I have
> > contacted the information officer responsible for these websites to
> > inquire about this.
> > 
> > She replied to me that she has already had one person report to here
> > that one of the sites was not accessible. She then passed this
> > information on to the developer but has received no feedback.
> > 
> > The IO does seem genuinely interested in the accessibility of the
> > websites and has said that as a government body it should be in place.
> > However she also stated that as nobody in their office is a developer
> > they have had no way of checking.
> > 
> > In my opinion this is a case where the developer is outright lying to
> > their clients and at the moment getting away with it.
> > 
> > I would like to know has anyone experienced similar problems before
> > and does anybody have suggestions for dealing with it?
> > 
> > With Regards
> > 
> > Brendan Spillane
> > MD ilikecake limited
> > 
> www.ilikecake.net
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