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Nomensa study examines the degree to which online accessibility in Central Government is being achieved.

Nomensa (http://www.nomensa.com), the Bristol-based Usability and Accessibility consultancy, today publishes its Web Accessibility in Central Government report that assesses 28 central government websites against accessibility guidelines. The report shows that 78% of central government websites are achieving UK accessibility targets but only 57% meet the ‘single A’ minimum standard defined by the Cabinet Office e-Government Unit.

Accessibility is evidently an important aspect of web strategy for UK central government. However, with such minimal results in the ‘double A’ and ‘triple A’ standings, Nomensa believes there’s significant scope for improvement. In some cases, accessibility has not been given due recognition, putting fundamental barriers in the way of many people accessing government services online.

The Cabinet Office Autumn Performance Report published in December details that 96% of government services will be available electronically by the end of 2005, with 75% of these services currently available.

Public sector departments that have placed accessibility at the forefront of their
e-enabled services, are not only fulfilling a legal and moral obligation, but will also show great success in the take up of their online services.

Key findings of the report were:
• 21% of sites fell below the basic accessibility rating of ‘single A’ - the minimum guideline standard for accessibility.
• 57% achieved only a ‘single A’ rating, 7% of sites achieved a ‘double A’ rating and 14% of sites achieved a ‘triple A’ rating.

Leonie Watson, Nomensa’s head of accessibility comments: “For all the public sector’s effort to make its online services accessible; there’s still a great deal to do. At a time when government expects all public sector websites to meet specific accessibility levels, it’s vital to recognise what constitutes an accessible website and fully understand the degree to which online accessibility is already being achieved.”
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Notes to editors

About the Report
The Web Accessibility in Central Government report, conducted by Nomensa, provides an accessibility analysis of 28 central government department websites checked against 10 criteria representing key accessibility principles.

The globally recognised benchmark for accessibility, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), offer three grades of accessibility based on the successful fulfilment of different criteria. Basic accessibility is recognised by the ‘single A’ grade, while ‘double A’ is given to those attaining an intermediate level of accessibility and those attaining optimum accessibility gain ‘triple A’ rating.

The results contained in the report are based on combined manual and automated accessibility testing carried out during the first week of November 2004. The report identifies techniques used to evaluate each site, the overall score each site achieved and a detailed analysis of the results produced. The report also presents a league table of results on a site-by-site basis.

About Nomensa
Nomensa is dedicated to improving online effectiveness through humanising technology. Through research and application, the organisation evaluates how people interact with technology and strives to improve standards of online communications. Specialising in accessibility, usability, design and content management, Nomensa builds online technologies using a human centred design approach that achieves high levels of accessibility. Nomensa actively encourages professional and ethical behaviour as a code of best practice. A commitment to promote social inclusion and accelerate corporate social responsibility is central to its work.

To receive a copy of Web Accessibility in Central Government, please contact:
Ted Davis, communications coordinator
Tel: 0117 929 7333
Email: td@nomensa.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 17th January 2005