Media Access Australia, in collaboration with the University of South Australia, has developed a six-week online course in web accessibility, Australia's only tertiary-backed accessibility course for web professionals, with course dates set for August and October this year.
Practical knowledge of web accessibility is now a requirement for web professionals and agencies wanting to win and maintain Government clientele or work in Government, as per the National Transition Strategy (NTS).
The Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility aims to support the Australian Government’s commitment to making government websites accessible through the NTS by building the web accessibility expertise of technical and managerial staff.
"The Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility was just what I needed to improve my performance as a web developer for a government agency,” said course attendee Julie Grundy, Learning Media Developer for the Department of Training and Workforce Development.
As one in five Australians have a disability, inaccessible websites can limit business potential by up to 20% and, in addition, the number of people with age-related impairments will continue to increase with ageing populations. In 2009, 40% of Australians aged 65-69 had some sort of impairment.
At the same time, more and more people worldwide are gaining access to the internet, forming a growing wave of demand for inclusive web development that allows people with disabilities to use the web.
“Most accessibility techniques are not complicated and are just part of good coding practice,” said Dr Scott Hollier, one of the course convenors and an expert in internet accessibility and the digital divide.
“When built into web design from the beginning, accessibility features can be simple to implement and maintain. Basic features, such as clear headings that are screen reader compatible, can enable access to a wider audience,” said Dr Hollier.
From December 2012 Federal, State and Territory Government websites must adhere to level ‘A’ of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and from December 2014 all Federal Government agency websites need to be a step ahead, at level ‘AA’.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has also endorsed the guidelines for all non-government agencies as part of the Disability Discrimination Act.
"If you need a refresher or just a leg up on accessibility this short course is ideal for the practising web professional," said course attendee Gary Barber, User Experience Consultant.
After a successful pilot course in 2011, the first course ran in April this year. The course will run again 6 August – 14 September 2012 following overwhelmingly positive reviews from attendees. Visit the Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility for information about the course or to register.