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Australia Forgets About Accessibility?

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I have been involved with the Australian Web Awards for three years now.  Over those three years I have noticed an alarming trend in the results.   An almost disconnect from the Australian Web Industry in terms of accessibility.

For those that don’t know the Australian Web Awards is a national competition based around best practices, it has been running now for 3 year nationally and 7 years over all.

The core vision for the Australian Web Awards is to promote best practice in design and development for the web in Australia.   It does this by providing a competition designer and developers can benchmark themselves against.

The Australian Web Awards allows entries from anyone that works the web in Australia, from govt, corporate to the freelancer.   The only people that are discouraged from entering are the judges.

It’s an interesting fact that over the years we have found that the big budget sites are in fact at a disadvantage.  It seems the medium to small budget sites appear to win time and time again. It doesn’t matter the size or complexity either. If you have a multi-million dollar site verses a $40,000 site, both with the same number of pages and complexity,  the large corporate spend just doesn’t seem to have the focus on quality to get up in the Australian Web Awards.

The Report Cards

The issue comes to light when you look at the average scores for the sites judged against the 5 main judging criteria over the last 3 years. As can be seen (below) all the areas have increased in quality over the years, the only criteria that has gone backwards is Accessibility. When I first saw this I considered if it was just a back slash against WCAG2. But maybe it’s something a little more. Now, let’s remember that the sites that have entered the Australian Web Awards are not just the average run of the mill site.  Often they will have been tweaked and improved, made the best they can be.

These sites from the owners and agencies viewpoint are as perfect as they can be. And yet they come up wanting. Overall we, as an industry have failed in accessibility. You know I didn’t expect this, it blindsided me. When I received the results from one accessibility judge after another, all telling me the same thing, over and over it was a bit of a shock.

For a while there it did make me question what had happened, if people really didn’t get the accessibility requirements.

Then I looked deeper into the statistics.

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