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NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs Partners for Digital Accessibility Course

Introduction to Digital Accessibility Delivering Inclusive Digital Content

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is partnering with the Victoria University of Wellington to help make digital public services in New Zealand accessible to everyone through a new course.

According to a recent press release, Inclusive design is a key goal of the Government’s new Digital Service Design Standards.

About the Initiative

Introduction to digital accessibility: Delivering inclusive digital content, which is the new micro-credential, was developed for digital practitioners and leaders in the public, private and education sectors in close consultation with a number of national disabled people’s organisations.

Dr Gillian McCarthy from the University’s School of Design Innovation shared that it is a great opportunity to help create a standard of accessibility for the entire country

Developing this course with DIA and key disability organisations means that the University is offering a uniquely relevant course.

Dr McCarthy is one of three University staff members teaching the course, with contributions from DIA accessibility experts.

Web accessibility is about inclusiveness and a way to ensure no one is excluded. Having an accessible website actually provides a better user experience for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Offered through the University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, the six-week micro-credential includes the following:

  1. A focus on barriers to digital accessibility
  2. Cultural perspectives on accessibility
  3. How to create digital content that meets the New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standard.

This is based on internationally recognised accessibility requirements.

Who are Involved?

Deputy Government Chief Digital Officer and DCE Digital Public Service branch, DIA Ann-Marie Cavanagh explained that partnering with Victoria University of Wellington to co-design this micro-credential was a natural fit.

The University’s education expertise together with the Department’s Web Standards knowledge equals an overview course that will reach a wider audience and be of great benefit.

This course will give people the tools to understand and improve digital accessibility, whatever sector they are in.

Micro-credentials are certified courses, usually short, which recognise the achievement of a defined set of skills and knowledge in a specific area.

Starting on 17 February 2020, the course on creating accessible digital content is the third micro-credential the University has produced, and more professional development courses are planned.

South Australia’s Digital Accessibility Policy

Digital access is important and the South Australian Government addressed this by launching a new online accessibility policy, and an online toolkit to help all South Australian organisations in creating more accessible digital platforms.

It is critical that government websites are developed to guarantee that everyone in the community can easily access them and that no one is left behind.

It is vital that online content is accessible for those most in need.

Not only should it help break down barriers for people with disability, but it should also allow them to participate independently in the community.

A plethora of people will be benefiting from the policy. They are:

  1. A person with vision impairment who requires a screen reader to navigate or contribute to a web page
  2. Older people with age-related challenges
  3. People with temporary incapacities such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  4. People using a slow internet connection or those who have limited or expensive bandwidth
  5. People using internet devices that may not be running the latest software versions
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