Government responds to website accessibility e-petition

Towards the end of last year I wrote an entry urging readers to sign an online petition. The petition aimed to highlight the poor standard of accessibility in UK Government websites following the launch of a disappointing new website by the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) in May 2006.

In what I’m starting to percieve as “bloomin’ typical”, the Government response to this e-petition leaves the main question unanswered: how is the Government going to ensure that the websites they launch will be accessible?


The Government’s response implies that their current strategy will ensure accessibility, but the sub-standard DTI website contradicts that claim.

In the response, they mention that their Digital Strategy “is to be implemented by [the] DTI” (my emphasis). The Government’s Digital Strategy has been around since March 2005 and includes the following statement of action:

Tackling social exclusion & bridging the digital divide

Action 7: Improve accessibility to technology for the digitally excluded and ease of use for the disabled

Connecting the UK: the Digital Strategy

The new DTI website was launched in May 2006, over a year after the Digital Strategy was published. So, the DTI website fell short of this action, despite the fact that the report outlining that strategy was jointly written by the Prime Minister’s Stategy Unit and the DTI. They fell short of meeting their own standards.

For me, this fact doesn’t support the idea that the DTI is capable of supervising the cross-government review of the Digital Strategy mentioned in the response to the petition. Ian Lloyd raises this point for discussion over at Accessify:
Typical Government Response? Yup.

But what can you do? Time for another petition?! Or is that just another waste of time for the general public?