The last session titled ‘No Citizen Left Behind’ focused on the complex issues of exclusion from e-services, a feature of all EU states. Kevin Cullen, of the Work Research Centre, summarised the usual solutions to bridge the digital divide from possible policy measures like universal service through to targeting excluded groups (indeed there is a service for older web users in my local inner city community centre which maybe I should take a look at).
On the important issue of accessibility Barry McMullin of Dublin City University launched the eAccessibility of public sector services in the European Union report. A long title for a study which found that 70% of the 436 sites (around 305 sites) surveyed failed to meet the basic Level ‘A’ standard. Not surprisingly it also found that there was a significant correlation between states with strong policies supporting website accessibility and accessibility of those sites. I was hoping the worst offending EU websites would be revealed by Barry but of course for the purposes of the study this information was anonomised. However, Barry did tell me that the detailed data has been provided in confidence to each of the members states so they can locally do whatever further they think is appropriate. So look out public sector web managers if your’s is one of the 70%!