UNDP Ukraine releases new accessibility review of Government websites, offers solutions

UNDP experts analysed 100 government websites to produce a set of recommendations to help ensure no one is left behind

Posted July 25, 2022
Photo credit: Unsplash

KYIV, 25 July 2022 – Websites, mobile applications, and other digital tools have extended the reach of local and national governments around the world, enabling them to provide an increasing range of public services to their citizens. However, as more and more information is available only online, governments run the risk of leaving some people behind if the digital content is not presented in ways everyone can access.

The United Nations Development Programme has been working with the Government of Ukraine to review its vast network of websites with the intention of making them accessible to everyone. This is seen as particularly important during the war, as much social assistance and support is being made available through platforms such as Diia, a smartphone application that provides access to more than 80 governmental services.

UNDP interim Resident Representative Manal Fouani noted that in the past three years, the Government of Ukraine has made significant progress in developing digital solutions for public services. “The war has not slowed the Government’s commitment to its digital transformation goals,” she said. “The need for all-inclusive online services is now more critical than ever.”

“Website accessibility means that the needs of people with disabilities be considered so everyone can navigate the content and benefit from the services availed online. UNDP, with Sweden's strategic investment, will continue to work closely with the Ukrainian government to make these websites more accessible. This is an important milestone for Ukraine; a country trying to fast recover from a devastating war,” Ms. Fouani said.

Website accessibility can include making sure the websites work well with assistive technology such as screen readers that read aloud content, and screen magnifiers that enlarge content. Small changes, according to UNDP, that could make a meaningful difference in the users’ experience include things like adding text to hyperlinks, choosing colours for text and backgrounds that make text easier to read, and adding text verbal descriptions of photos and graphics.

In conducting their review, UNDP analysed the basic accessibility of 100 websites of the central and local executive authorities and drew up recommendations on how to solve the most frequent web accessibility issues. The analysis revealed that 61 websites had a medium or above-medium level of basic accessibility. To put this into context, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation recently reported that although a quarter of United States citizens live with a disability, nearly a third of the most popular federal websites in that country are difficult for disabled people to access. The government is now required to make all of its websites accessible to disabled people, and to publicly report on its compliance with accessibility standards. Similarly, most public sector websites and mobile apps in the UK do not meet accessibility requirements, according to the UK Cabinet Office Central Digital and Data Office. In particular, an analysis by the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation testified that four in 10 homepages of local councils did not pass basic tests for accessibility. The most common problems were similar to those observed on government websites in Ukraine, such as poor colour contrast that makes a text difficult to read or complicated website navigation with a keyboard.

To assist the Government in making its public websites more accessible, UNDP also developed a methodology to help authorities identify accessibility gaps and adjust the code themselves, without outsourcing technical support.

UNDP is also helping the Ministry of Digital Transformation in its goal of aligning international standards on its web accessibility. A new standard, “Requirements for Accessibility of ICT Products and Services”, was adopted nationally in June 2022.

Background

The monitoring study of web accessibility and the development of the methodology were performed as part of the “Digital, Inclusive, Accessible: Support to Digitalisation of Public Services in Ukraine Project” (DIA Support Project), which UNDP is implementing in Ukraine with financial support from Sweden. The DIA Support Project, which was launched in 2021, aims to bridge the digital divide between generations and various social groups. Its main goal is to increase the accessibility of new digital solutions so that every man and woman in the country can use public electronic services, and no one is left behind.

Media inquiries:

Yuliia Samus, Communications Team Leader, UNDP in Ukraine, Yuliia.Samus@undp.org