It’s great to see so many organisations part of the accessibility movement in Australia. More and more, businesses are recognising that they have a social responsibility to make their websites and other digital assets accessible to everyone. In time, it’ll be those organisations that don’t consider accessibility that get left behind.
One organisation making great progress towards accessibility is Australia’s largest retail network, Australia Post. Having recently achieved a Statement of Accessibility for their mobile website, Australia Post is a great example of continuous improvement in practice. In this interview we find out how this commercial giant approached its accessibility journey, the challenges and achievements they’ve experienced so far, and why they urge other organisations to “start now”.
What motivated Australia Post to invest in accessibility strategies and implementation?
Around one in five Australians has a disability, so Australia Post understands that disability touches all aspects of our business. Our corporate strategy includes the 2012 launch of our first Accessibility Action Plan, which is our blueprint for improving the accessibility of our workplace, as well as products and services for people with a disability. This includes our goal of achieving Level AA compliance under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) across our digital assets.
How did Australia Post identify its current and future web accessibility needs?
From late 2012, Digital Access at Vision Australia conducted accessibility audits of Australia Post’s websites, providing us with the information we needed to begin to work towards achieving accessibility to Level AA standards. We chose the mobile Australia Post website as our first target, because we were rebuilding it at the time.
What was the process to achieving accessibility?
The process of creating a certified mobile website began with an accessibility audit, conducted in 2013 by Digital Access at Vision Australia. Our mobile development team reviewed the findings and worked towards making the required changes. This July, Digital Access was commissioned to re-audit the website and it was certified as AA compliant under WCAG 2.0.
What were the biggest challenges along the way and how were they overcome?
The biggest challenge to achieving AA compliance on our mobile website was making sure that accessibility requirements could be effectively integrated with optimal user experience. The mobile development team recognised the need for sharing understanding of accessibility requirements throughout the team to ensure the website was developed consistently.
What do you think the positive outcomes will be after this process?
Achieving AA compliance on our mobile website has made it more accessible for all users – whether they have a disability or not. We believe it may enhance Australia Post’s brand image, because our mobile products and services are now more user-friendly. It’s also an important step towards making all our digital assets AA compliant.
What do you think the ongoing challenges will be?
The biggest challenge will be ensuring that further development and redevelopment continues to adhere to WCAG 2.0 specifications. To address this, our internal Digital Accessibility policy includes guidelines for developers to follow to ensure that their work is AA compliant.
Does Australia Post have any advice for other organisations looking to make their digital environments accessible?
Our advice for other organisations is to start now. The longer you leave it, the harder it will get. Create AA compliant assets and behaviours that are reusable, such as code libraries and style guides. Ensure management is on board and driving the need for accessibility improvements. Establish a digital accessibility plan including guidelines for development based on WCAG 2.0 requirements. And lastly, drive home the importance of accessibility thinking throughout the team.
Digital Access at Vision Australia
Servicing public and private sector organisations Australia-wide, Vision Australia’s Digital Access consultancy is at the forefront of the accessibility industry in Australia.
Digital Access is proud to support organisations, large and small, at every stage of their accessibility journey through a needs-based, customised approach. Contact Digital Access to discuss how they can help you.