Accessibility ICT Procurement Standard

Author: 
John Sheridan - CIO & CISO

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The Australian Public Service is committed to employing people with disability and creating inclusive work environments that reflect the diversity of the Australian community. To do so we need to ensure the ICT goods and services we buy are accessible for all employees. 

With that in mind, I’m pleased to advise that Standards Australia has recently agreed to create an Australian Standard on ICT accessibility through the direct text adoption of the European Standard (EN 301 549 – found here). The standard will support access to ICT for people with disabilities and provide domestic ICT procurers with accessibility guidelines and certainty.

So what does ‘accessible’ mean in the context of ICT goods or services. Put simply, accessible ICT goods or services can be used by all intended users, taking into account their differing capabilities. A person's ability to use technology may be impaired due to various physical, sensory, emotional or cognitive disabilities.

Once adopted, the Australian standard can be used when determining technical specifications for the procurement of accessible ICT products and services. This includes generic requirements, ICT with video, ICT with 2-way voice, hardware, web content, software and documentation and support services.

The standard will mirror European Standard EN 301 549 and be consistent with the US Section 508 and WCAG 2.0. In terms of next steps, public consultation will occur shortly before the standard can be adopted. It should then be in place before the end of the year and I’ll provide updated advice once this occurs.

From a practical perspective, any existing goods and services currently in use do not need to be replaced as a consequence of adopting the standard. The majority of these will already be consistent with European Standard EN 301 549 and US Section 508. When ICT goods and services are due for renewal or replacement, the Australian ICT accessibility standard should be used in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (paragraph 10.9.c). This will also be the case when our ICT coordinated procurements are up for renewal.

If you have any comments on this blog, please let me know either below, or by email at haveyoursay.procurement@finance.gov.au.

Regards

John

Comments (2)

Thanks John for talking about this at OZeWAI 2016: https://ozewai-accessibility-conference-2016.publish.viostream.com/ozewa...

This is a good article and bringing to light the movement by government to be more transparent and focus on local, indigenous and transparent procurement. Its really happening in Adelaide, South Australia with the Industry Advocate office now having statutory powers and standards. There is also a private firm we worked with named JLB Yaran that is an indigenous partnership focusing on the management consulting side of the defence projects happening there. Worked with Dan Hadley and Sean Bates on those projects with good local and indigenous outcomes for the submarine future program. Good work Australia, keep going in this direction.

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Last updated: 24 January 2018