The State Services Commission has released version 1.0 of the Government Web Standards aiming “to make the criteria more clearly defined and comprehensible and compliance more objectively measurable”.
Version 1.0 replaces version 2.1 of the Government Web Guidelines v2.1. However, despite the upgrade from “guidelines” to “standards”, the two are not greatly different, the SSC says.
“The E-government Strategy highlights the importance of ‘accessible state services’ in achieving the transformation of the operation of government,” says Laurence Millar, Deputy Commissioner Information and Communication Technologies. Accessible state services constitute one of the six state services development goals.
“These standards provide the building blocks for ensuring that government websites are accessible to all, irrespective of technological or physical impediments,” he adds.
This includes not only clarity of presentation and expression for people with disabilities and compatibility with technology such as text reading machines they use to access the web, but also elimination of features that perform badly with slow connections or present inconsistently in different browsers. HTML is the document format of choice, with PDFs, which create their own environment within the browser, particularly strongly discouraged.
As part of the review process, a working group comprising ten representatives of government, people with disabilities and usability professionals overhauled the previous guidelines.
The standards can be read at www.e.govt.nz/standards/web-guidelines/web-standards-v1.0/.