#alphagov and accessibility

I’ve had a really interesting and challenging (in a good way) debate over alpha.gov.uk and its approach to accessibility (detailed in the post here).

I can’t fault the aims of alpha.gov.uk – it’s on the back of Martha Lane Fox’s recommendations concerning the government’s online services, and the URL of the project team’s opening post is the sort of intent I applaud.

And, in a way, I can’t fault the project team’s approach to accessibility. That they posted such a thoughtful post so early on in the project on the topic of accessibility is a Good Thing. That they recognise there are trade offs to be had in addressing the various issues involved is encouraging.

But, at this stage of this project, I think in saying what follows that they’ve came down on the wrong side concerning accessibility:

Making a half-hearted gesture towards accessibility (such as including text resizing or contrast options) or adding a badge to say we were certified, could have implied that we considered that box ticked, when we knew it to be untrue.

As it turns out, this was a view I shared with Dom Campbell, with me replaying the conversation he’d had 24 hours earlier. Public Strategist has kindly captured the conversations here.

I won’t replay the points of the conversation for and against the approach to accessibility, since they are already there to be seen.

What I wanted to get across in this post (apart from giving the topic a bit more air) is that Dom and I are taking one view on a fascinating, engaging and difficult topic. At this stage of the project, the team have taken a different view (and I really do strongly applaud @tomskitomski, @memespring et al. for being so open about their approach). It’s great, at least, that that debate is being had, and I look forward to it continuing.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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