Digital accessibility: obligation and relief

From September 23, 2020, all government websites in the Netherlands must comply with the (temporary) Government Digital Accessibility Decree. Governments are obliged to apply the accessibility standard and to draw up an accessibility statement. But what exactly is required? And what good is it for you as an organization to comply with the Accessibility standard? We list it.

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The benefits of Digital accessibility

You want to reach people with the information on your website. That is why it is important that your website is accessible and that the information matches the visitor's experience. A website that is accessible has the advantage that it can be used by anyone, regardless of which device or browser is used. Also by people who cannot see or hear (well), have difficulty with complex texts or cannot use a mouse, so that everyone can participate.

An accessible website has a layered structure and is therefore easy to search by search engines such as Google. This ensures a higher position in the search results and thus a greater reach. Your site can be read and understood by everyone, on all browsers and on all devices and operating systems. The reach of your website is then optimal.

How does your site become digitally accessible?

New websites that we create and bring live meet the guidelines for digital accessibility. But what about your websites that have been live for a while? To make these sites optimally accessible, it is important to have them independently tested against WCAG 2.1 guidelines. Part of the test is digital and shows whether the site meets the technical guidelines for HTML and CSS. It is also possible to check digitally whether there is a description for each page and each image. But a person must, for example, check whether the description actually covers the load.

Have you had the website tested against the guidelines? Then there will be an advice. You can discuss this with a Seneca web consultant. He can tell you exactly what the impact is. With our CMS Smartsite 7 you can fully apply the WCAG 2.1 accessibility standard. But this may affect the current design, HTML / CSS techniques used and the working method of your organization.

How do you comply with the legislation?

To comply by September 23, government agencies must do two things: apply the accessibility standard to all their websites and publish an accessibility statement.

What is the accessibility standard?

The accessibility standard means that the websites meet the requirements of chapter 9 of the European standard EN 301 549. This is equivalent to the WCAG 2.1 rules of W3C, at levels A and AA. Whether a website complies with the rules must be tested using a well-documented evaluation method, such as WCAG-EM from W3C. Government agencies can have an investigation carried out by an external service provider or - if the expertise and resources are available in-house - this can be carried out in-house. The results can be discussed with the web builder so that the accessibility of the websites is optimized.

What is an accessibility statement?

In de verplichte toegankelijkheidsverklaring legt de overheidsinstantie officieel verantwoording af over de status van toegankelijkheid. De toegankelijkheidsverklaring moet voldoen aan het model van de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijkrelaties. Logius has brought a fill-in assistant online with which a good statement is drawn up step by step. This statement can also be published directly from the tool in the accessibility register, although this is not (yet) mandatory. You can also only publish the accessibility statement on the website.

What if websites do not yet comply?

Are websites not (fully) accessible on September 23, 2020? Then there is no immediate problem. You can describe in the accessibility statement which measures the organization is taking to comply with the requirements as quickly as possible and when those measures have been implemented.

More information

An important source of information is the Logius website Are you curious about practical information about how to approach compliance with the legal obligation to accessibility? Then read the Logius newsletter from last May. It states how every organization can pay before 23 September.

And of course you can contact Seneca for more information about our step-by-step plan to make your Smartsite website accessible to everyone in a timely manner.

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Datum: 6/19/2020

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