The new UNDP-supported course will explain the fundamentals of web accessibility and how to make any digital resources barrier-free.
Diia.Digital education platform rolls out new web accessibility course
February 2, 2023
Kyiv, 2 February 2023 – The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine has presented a new online course for civil servants on web accessibility. The series teaches the basic principles for making web content accessible so that it can be used by as many users as possible – including people with visual impairments.
The course was developed with the support of the “Digital, Inclusive, Accessible: Support to Digitalisation of Public Services in Ukraine” project (DIA Support project), which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine with funding from Sweden, at the initiative of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine for the Diia.Digital education platform.
The course can be completed free of charge on the Diia.Digital education portal. The course consists of a series of 10 lessons each lasting up to 15 minutes. They introduce the basic concepts and principles of accessibility, such as: assistive technologies used by blind people on the Internet, colour and contrast, text structure and semantics, and tips on how to create understandable texts and how to test the accessibility of a site or mobile application.
Valeriia Ionan, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for European Integration, stressed that in today's world, online content should be accessible to everyone. “According to the WHO, about 300 million people in the world have visual impairments, and the number of blind people is increasing every year,” Ionan says. “Ukraine is no exception, moreover, poor eyesight is the fourth most common disability among children. So making government websites and applications in the digital state accessible is a key stage in technological development. The accessibility course on Diia.Digital education will help civil servants gain knowledge of barrier-free and inclusiveness principles, and how to adapt their web resources so everyone can use them.”
The course was prepared by experts in web accessibility: director of LLC “Digital Accessibility Lab,” and author of the methodology for checking the basic accessibility of web resources for civil servants Dmytro Popov, state expert of the National Agency of Ukraine on the Civil Service Alla Oliinyk, and Yevgenii Shykiriavyi, design manager at Eleks, who is the co-author of a specialized course and of an authorized translation of the WCAG 2.1 worldwide web accessibility guidelines into Ukrainian.
Tobias Thyberg, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine, emphasized that increasing the web accessibility of state resources is indispensable for the Ukraine’s successful digital transformation. “Sweden has always supported Ukraine in promoting the digitalisation of public services, however, it’s important that the results of digital transformation are accessible to all citizens, including people with disabilities,” Thyberg said. “The special course will allow, in a convenient and modern way, knowledge about web accessibility to be spread among as many people as possible, and, most importantly, among those who directly create content and web products for people in government institutions.”
Jaco Cilliers, interim UNDP Ukraine Resident Representative, emphasized that the promotion of web accessibility in the public sector was one of the key areas of work in which the UN Development Programme in Ukraine, with the financial support of Sweden, has fruitfully cooperated with the Ministry of Digital Transformation and other government partners in recent years. “It’s important that civil servants have the necessary knowledge and skills in the field of web accessibility, because it is most often they who create web content or digital products that are then used by millions of citizens,” said Jaco Cilliers. “The online course we’ve presented will help guide them how to do it in an accessible way, so that all Ukrainians, including people with disabilities, can use the products they created.”
In October 2021, the UN Development Programme in Ukraine, with the support of Sweden, conducted specialized training on web accessibility for more than 200 civil servants from the central executive authorities. In November 2022, web developers and communication specialists from a number of Ukrainian ministries and state enterprises also received in-depth training.
Earlier, UNDP experts developed a special methodology for checking the basic accessibility of government websites. The methodology does not require special knowledge, and allows civil servants to easily and simply check how accessible their web resource is, as well as to correct possible errors.
The methodology formed the basis of a monitoring of the basic accessibility of 100 websites of the executive authorities, which was conducted in 2021 at the request of UNDP in Ukraine. A web accessibility analysis of public resources is an annual UNDP initiative that helps the situation in the public sector to be assessed. Thus, in 2020, 82 state websites providing electronic services for citizens were analysed. The results of both studies showed that government websites in Ukraine were not 100% accessible.
One of the key results of cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation was the approval of a new state standard on digital accessibility. It is based on the leading European standard on accessibility – EN 301 549, which was also translated into Ukrainian. The new state standard entered into force on June 15, 2022.
Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Communications Team Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org
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