In NDA AccessIT, the National Disability Authority have just produced far and away the best resource that is available in Ireland to do with IT accessibility. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best resources available anywhere in the world.
IT accessibility guidelines
The AccessIT website was originally the home of just the IT Accessibility Guidelines for websites, application software, telecoms and public access terminals. But the guidelines have now been expanded to cover smartcard systems as well. They’ve also been supplemented with loads of other resources and the whole thing has been repackaged. The result is an outstanding collection of guidance and information. A really useful resource for people involved in IT development or procurement.
One of the features of the site is the new Accessible IT Procurement Toolkit. This gives detailed guidance for public organisations who are buying IT systems and products to help them make sure that what they end up with is accessible as possible for their users, and stays that way. It provides material that the procurer can use in requests for tenders, as well as guidance on working with tenderers and contractors during the whole procurement lifecycle – from requirements specification and tender assessment, through implementation and evaluation, to ongoing management and maintenance. It also describes the legal and policy background to IT procurement. All this information, though aimed primarily at procurers, is also very useful for companies who are supplying IT products or services to public sector clients. They will find it useful to know about the advice and information contained in this toolkit and how it will affect the tendering and implementation process. Then they will be more ready to meet the public bodies’ requirements.
The AccessIT site also contains detailed guidance for developing accessible websites. This includes examples, code snippets, videos of people using assistive technologies to demonstrate access barriers and guidance on creating web content. Then there’s guidance for website managers on commissioning a website accessibility audit, plus a whole lot more.
The examples are one of the best features of AccessIT. It’s one thing to be told what to do and how to go about it but it can sometimes still be difficult to fully understand this advice and put it into practice. What you often need are actual examples. The web coding examples and the example texts for including in requests for tenders are a great help in this respect.
Overall, a great job by the NDA. I’d highly recommend it.
Mark Magennis (IIA guest blogger)