Government websites increasing the level of their web accessibility, UNDP study finds

A basic accessibility assessment was used to find out whether government websites can be used easily by, for example, people with visual impairments.

May 11, 2023
The speakers of the presentation of the study on web accessibility monitoring
Photo: Ukrinform

Kyiv, 11 May 2023 – The level of web accessibility of government websites is gradually increasing, a monitoring study of the basic accessibility of 100 government web resources has concluded. 

The monitoring study was carried out at the request of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine, with funding from Sweden, from the end of 2022 to the beginning of 2023. The results of the study were presented today in Kyiv. 

Specifically, 73 websites out of 100 analysed at the beginning of 2023 had average or above average basic accessibility, the study found. In 2021, 61 websites out of 100 were found to have achieved this level of accessibility. 

The study also identified the five accessibility problems that most often occur on government websites. They are:  the lack of a mechanism to quickly navigate to the main content; low contrast of the text; the lack of a visible focus indicator during navigation using the keyboard; text for hyperlinks; and the presence of errors in the page code. 

The report made recommendations on how to fix the most common web accessibility errors. In addition, a special methodology was developed for the government institutions where the research was conducted. Using it, developers and administrators of government websites can independently identify and fix accessibility issues themselves, practically without any third-party technical assistance. 

Mstyslav Banik, the head of Digital Services Development at the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, said that the ministry is striving to ensure all government web products in the country are as digitally accessible as possible, so that all citizens can use them easily and conveniently. For this purpose, for example, all newly created digital services and web resources of the ministry are checked by web accessibility experts at the design stage. In particular, the new “Diia.Barrier-free” section of the Diia portal fully meets all the requirements of web accessibility, Banik said. 

It’s important for us that all Ukrainians without exception can use Diia – and all state electronic services in general,” Banik said. “We believe that in a digital state, access to information, public services, and access to the officials themselves should not be limited by anything.” 

Tetiana Lomakina, Advisor and Presidential Commissioner for a Barrier-Free Environment, stresses that digital accessibility is an integral component of a barrier-free society. 

The war showed us that it's important to have all documents digitized and to have government services available online. Now, we need to make them accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities,” Lomakina said. 

Volodymyr Brusilovskyi, the DIA Support project manager, noted that UNDP, with the support of Sweden, was consistently cooperating with government partners to build a barrier-free and inclusive space in Ukraine. 

Our goal, in partnership with state bodies and international partners, is to make digital transformation in Ukraine accessible!” Brusilovskyi said. “This study is designed to help government agencies that provide services to citizens identify and correct accessibility errors in their web products. At the same time, it’s important that business and the public sector also realize the importance of web accessibility and adapt their web sites and mobile applications according to the needs of all users.” 

This is the second study of its kind. UNDP has been analysing the basic web accessibility of the websites of executive authorities at the central and local levels since 2021. The purpose of the monitoring studies is to assess the accessibility of these web resources, identify problems, and to aid in their elimination. 

Dmytro Popov, UNDP Ukraine consultant on web accessibility and the author of the study, noted that “the main conclusion of the study is that we’re seeing overall improvement. The number of web sites whose level of basic accessibility improved over the year exceeds the number of sites where the result worsened. We hope that this trend will continue, and that the web accessibility of government web resources will only grow. This is the purpose of the analysis and our recommendations.” 

Background information 

UNDP has in recent years been working consistently with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine to improve web accessibility in the country. Previously, the ministry, with the support of UNDP, developed a new state standard for digital accessibility, which entered into legal force in June 2022. This helped align Ukrainian legislation with international web accessibility standards. 

In addition, the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, which offer recommendations on how to increase the accessibility of web content, were translated into Ukrainian at the initiative of UNDP in Ukraine. This simplified compliance with the requirements of digital accessibility for Ukrainian developers, as the new Ukrainian state standard is based on these guidelines. 

In February 2023, together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, a new online course on web accessibility was also developed. The series teaches the basic principles of creating accessible web content. 

All the above-mentioned initiatives are implemented within the framework of the DIA Support project, which UNDP in Ukraine implements with financial support from Sweden. 

Media inquiries 

Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Communications Team Leader,