The Web Standards Working Group has recently identified a number of clarifications to the Web Usability Standard 1.1. The changes included in the updated Web Usability Standard 1.2, effective 01 August 2014, allow agencies greater flexibility in meeting the Standard’s requirements, but do not add any new requirements or make additional demands on agencies. The new Standard will make the upcoming Web Standards Self-Assessments easier, and generally support agencies in delivering better public services.
Link to newzealand.govt.nz or www.govt.nz
The Web Usability Standard 1.1 required that each website’s home page include a link to newzealand.govt.nz. However, newzealand.govt.nz has just been replaced by www.govt.nz.
The updated Web Usability Standard 1.2 allows a website home page to link directly to www.govt.nz, or keep its existing link to newzealand.govt.nz, which automatically redirects to www.govt.nz.
‘Contact us’ pages, copyright and privacy statements
The Web Usability Standard 1.1 required that each website link to a ‘contact us’ page, as well as to copyright and privacy statements. Some websites include these pages and statements, while others link to and make use of pages and statements on other websites. For example, a sub-site may link to and thereby make use of a parent website’s ‘contact us’ page or copyright and privacy statements.
The Web Usability Standard 1.1 could be interpreted as requiring a website’s ’contact us’ page, copyright, and privacy statements to actually be part of the same website.
To address this, the Web Usability Standard 1.2 expressly allows a website’s ‘contact us’ page, copyright, and privacy statements to be located on the website itself or another website, as long as they unambiguously indicate that they serve as the ‘contact us’ page, copyright or privacy statement for the website in question.
NZ Relay Service
The New Zealand Relay (NZ Relay) Service is an operator service that allows people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-impaired to place calls to standard telephone users via keyboard or assistive device. It also provides for video calls.
To make it easier for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, deaf-blind, or speech-impaired to contact and communicate with agencies, the Web Usability Standard 1.2 recommends, but does not require, that a website’s ‘contact us’ page include a link to the NZ Relay Service.
Definition of ‘home page’
The Web Usability Standard requires that a website’s home page include a number of links, i.e. to newzealand.govt.nz or www.govt.nz, to a ‘contact us’ page, and to copyright and privacy statements.
What qualifies as a home page is important for interpreting the Standard, but the Web Usability Standard 1.1 did not provide a formal definition of ‘home page’. Such a definition is even more important considering the increasing number of web applications which qualify as websites, but which may exist as a single web page and not have what is understood as a traditional, discrete home page.
The Web Usability Standard 1.2 formally defines ‘home page’ as follows:
A website’s main landing or entry web page. For many websites, this is the web page at the root domain or subdomain level, e.g. http://ministry.govt.nz/ or http://site.ministry.govt.nz/. For some websites, e.g. single web page applications, the home page is the initial state of the web application.
No new requirements
This update does not add any new absolute requirements. With the exception of recommending a link to the NZ Relay Service, and formally defining ‘home page’, the Web Usability Standard 1.2 simply clarifies the Standard’s existing requirements. In fact, it increases the ways by which an agency may meet the Standard.
Accordingly, there is no change to the Web Usability Standard’s implementation schedule. Agency websites were to have met the Web Usability Standard 1.1 by July 2014. The updated Web Usability Standard 1.2 takes effect 01 August 2014, and agency websites are expected to comply with it immediately from that day forward.