Press Release on Web Accessibility Survey Report for Indian Government Websites
Despite the Prime Minister's Order, Government Websites Continue to Remain Inaccessible to Persons with Disabilities
NIC issued strict guidelines in 2009 to make all websites in the public domain accessible and disabled friendly
New Delhi, January 18, 2013: 3 years following the Prime Minister's order, some of the top Government websites like the National Portal of India(External Website) (http://www.india.gov.in), Ministry of Tourism(External Website) (http://www.tourism.gov.in), Ministry of Human Resource Development(External Website) (http://www.mhrd.gov.in), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances(External Website) (http://darpg.nic.in) etc. continue to remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities in general and people with visual impairment, print impairment and hearing impairment, in particular. What is even more ironic is that some of them have made tall claims about being 'accessible' and when tested, failed miserably!
Most people take such tasks like booking a cinema ticket or shopping online; or filing tax returns; applying for passports and booking railway tickets, through the internet for granted. But for millions out of the 70-100 million people with disabilities, this is an impossible task.
"It is a matter of great concern that even three years later, some of the top Government websites including the National Portal of India are not accessible. We have written to the honorable Prime Minister expressing our concern and demanding immediate intervention," says Javed Abidi, Honorary Director of NCPEDP.
The issue of inaccessible websites came to the fore in 2009 when the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) took up the matter in a big way, and the media outcry that followed led the Prime Minister's Office to intervene. Guidelines by National Information Centre (NIC) were then issued to make all websites in the public domain accessible and disabled friendly.
Persons with disabilities use different assistive technologies to browse the web. However, if the websites are not constructed as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the assistive technology fails to read them and thus, barring a person with disability from accessing the website.
The NIC guidelines known as the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) mandate that all Government website should conform to the international accessibility standards, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Several Government websites today claim to be accessible and have an accessibility statement, accessibility options, skip to main content and screen reader access links added on their websites to demonstrate their claim. However, the question that comes to mind is how far are these websites accessible in reality?
On NCPEDP's request, BarrierBreak Technologies conducted an audit of 10 Government websites and it was disappointing and shocking to find out that not a single one of them is accessible. The survey aims at evaluating the level of accessibility of different Government of India (GOI) websites at the central as well as state level. The websites were chosen on the basis of the accessibility claims stated on their web pages to verify if these sites were actually accessible for persons with disabilities.
"We were quite shocked to notice that the websites were not accessible in spite of the fact that each of them has put an accessibility statement on their website to mislead visitors," further adds Abidi.
The Accessibility Survey by BarrierBreak Technologies was conducted during the month of November 2012. The results were disappointing and the findings revealed that persons with disabilities found it difficult to access the web pages tested. Automated tests revealed that the pages failed to meet even the minimum accessibility compliance requirements of WCAG 2.0. In addition, the tested pages lacked valid HTML and CSS mark up.
Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director of BarrierBreak Technologies, said "It is sad that out of around 7,000 Government websites, even the few that claim accessibility, don't meet the international standards."
NCPEDP says, "This is a gross discrimination against persons with disabilities and a shame in a country that boasts to be the superpower when it comes to IT."
Kindly refer to the attached documents that further elaborate the issue:
- NCPEDP's letter to the Prime Minister (18 KB)
- Web Accessibility Survey Report for Indian Government Websites (3.72 MB)
About National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) was registered as a Trust in 1996, with a Board of Management which has representation from industry, N.G.O.s, disabled people and international agencies. N.C.P.E.D.P. stresses the need to move away from traditionally held views of charity and welfare to those of productivity and empowerment of disabled people.
For more details please contact:
Mr. Javed Abidi,
Honorary Director, NCPEDP
Shreshtha Kumar, Asif A Mazumder
Communicators India (On Behalf of NCPEDP)
M: +91-9873077438, 9582041352
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