Web Accessibility in the Public Sector - principles and practices

About the event

Public sector service providers are presented with a unique challenge: building online services that can be used by a wide range of people, irrespective of their abilities, interaction modalities, or user agents. The objective of this workshop is to provide a well-rounded view of the area of web accessibility, including concepts and practices that can be adopted in the various stages of an online service’s lifecycle.

Following this workshop, participants will be able to (a) understand core concepts related to accessibility, universal design, and inclusive design, (b) understand how user agents and assistive technologies work, (c) understand the importance of semantic HTML in the context of web accessibility, (d) understand WCAG principles, guidelines and success criteria, (e) understand WAI-ARIA and associated authoring practices and (f) understand how to devise an accessibility testing strategy.

The workshop will be delivered by Dr Chris Porter, a Senior Lecturer within the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta. Chris has a PhD in Computer Science from University College London (UCL). His research is primarily in the field of Human-Computer Interaction, focusing on web accessibility, assistive technologies, and software engineering. Chris also manages the Human-Computer Interaction Lab within the Faculty of ICT.

The workshop is being jointly organised by the eSkills Malta Foundation, the Malta Communications Authority, and the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology at the University of Malta.


What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility allows everyone, including people with disabilities, to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Internet.

Digital accessibility became even more important during the COVID pandemic, and remains essential for making Europe fit for the digital age. With the rapid growth of information and interactive services provided through the web and mobile devices, a part of the population risks being excluded from basic services from both the private and public sector such as getting information from public services, grocery shopping, medical consultations, online banking, messaging and video-calling services, to name but a few.

Simple changes that make websites and apps more “accessible” can help everyone, not just users with disabilities. For instance, being able to listen to a text when multitasking, or reading subtitles to a video in a noisy environment. Businesses with accessible services can reach a larger, mostly untapped customer base, and experience an economic gain from doing so. An estimated 130 million people in the EU have some form of disability, and so represent an important market.

Digital accessibility is not just an issue of technical standards, web architecture and design. It is also a right for persons with disabilities to access information and communication technologies on an equal basis with everyone else, to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community (EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Art 26: Integration of persons with disabilities: “The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community”). And it is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of the Convention, to which the EU and its Member States are party, requires that appropriate measures are taken to ensure access for persons with disabilities, on equal basis with others, to information and communication technologies, including the Internet. The EU has therefore legislated to support the rights of persons with disabilities.

Our Speakers

Joe SeychellChris Porter
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eSkills Malta Foundation    Malta Communications Authority University of Malta Faculty of Information & Communication Technology