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Government agencies are using scan results to fix issues and integrate accessibility into development workflows.

In March 2023, the Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) invited 15 central government agencies to participate in a 6-month pilot of the Centralised Web Accessibility Checker (CWAC) to test the feasibility and benefits of centralised automated accessibility testing.

In the first scan, up to 50 individual pages were tested from each of the 364 websites submitted by agencies.

Colour contrast issues were by far the most common. Many of these involved important elements like headings, links, and buttons with insufficient contrast.

Links without accessible names were the second-most common serious issue identified.

More on the importance of accessible names for links:

Links: Name, role and states — Web Accessibility Guidance project

The results from the pilot are consistent with the results from earlier Web Standards Self-Assessments, confirming that agencies continue to be challenged by some aspects of accessibility.

Agencies are responding positively to the results. We’ve been impressed by their enthusiasm and commitment to fixing accessibility issues raised by CWAC.

Parliamentary Counsel Office:

Scans are very insightful. They will certainly help us drive the case for redevelopment projects.

Te Puni Kōkiri:

We want to help ensure all people can access the information they need on our website, which was why we volunteered for the pilot. We have continued to update our site as we learn more from the findings.

What is CWAC?

The Web Standards team built CWAC to help agencies remove accessibility barriers by identifying web pages that fail to meet the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard 1.1.

That Standard is based on the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 from the W3C.

CWAC is a tool that automatically scans any public web page for certain WCAG failures. CWAC does not test full compliance with the web standards, but we are piloting it as a cost-effective way to give the GCDO consistent, indicative results regarding the accessibility of NZ Government websites.

Why is CWAC important to New Zealanders?

Ensuring disabled people can access government information and services is critically important.

Web accessibility is a core part of the Strategy for a Digital Public Service and the government’s priority vision of a digitally inclusive New Zealand as outlined in the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa and other work programmes.

Under the 2003 Web Standards Cabinet Minute, all core Public Service departments must be able to demonstrate to the GCDO their conformance to the Web Standards.

Article 9 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) — United Nations requires the New Zealand Government to monitor the implementation of minimum accessibility standards.

The GCDO is committed to ensuring that disabled people can use and access online government services. CWAC is just one tool, alongside other initiatives, in support of that goal. It does not replace the need for manual testing by accessibility experts.

We want to find out if CWAC can give us the insights we need to support agencies to improve the New Zealand Public Service’s delivery of accessible online content and services that work for disabled people. Releasing these first reports from the CWAC pilot is an opportunity to share insights and demonstrate transparent, responsible government in the protection and promotion of disability rights. We look forward to sharing more about the pilot in early 2024.

CWAC Pilot Scan #1 reports

CWAC scans web pages in both their desktop view (browser window is set to 1280px wide) and their mobile view (320px wide). This is why there are 2 sets of reports.

The following compressed files contain the raw data, in CSV (comma-separated values) format, from the tests CWAC performed:

The following compressed files contain the HTML reports summarising the number of errors per website for each pilot agency:

Utility links and page information

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