Microsoft supports G3ict’s contribution to this consultation encouraging governments to (1) do more to ensure that public sector websites are accessible and to (2) define and make broadly known the business case for a commitment to web accessibility. We also draw attention to the collaborative report entitled “The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework” available at http://www.itu.int/en/action/accessibility/Documents/The%20ICT%20Opportunity%20for%20a%20Disability_Inclusive%20Development%20Framework.pdf.
Accessible government websites enable people of all ages and abilities to stay informed, participate fully as citizens, and seek public-sector employment more easily. While many governments have taken steps to promote accessibility in public-sector websites, implementation has been sporadic. As countries increasingly implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), industry is working to support broader and more effective implementation efforts.
Today, the widely endorsed international standard ISO/IEC 40500:2012 is making it easier for governments to improve the accessibility of their websites by aligning their policies with ISO/IEC 40500:2012 and instituting self-assessment and conformance practices.
To assist governments, Microsoft has supported collaboration between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and G3ict to create a model web accessibility policy for use by governments around the world. We and our partners continue to provide web accessibility policy guidance directly to governments and we collaborate with disability NGOs around the world to raise awareness of the benefits of making the Web more accessible. We are working closely with G3ict and Disabled People’s International to provide training to NGOs on web accessibility, and our tools, Microsoft SharePoint and Visual Studio, help developers create more accessible websites and meet current U.S. and international accessibility standards.
Microsoft encourages the ITU and member states to join industry in supporting government web accessibility outreach programs for users, developers, and content authors.