Funka in Australia
The European Standard on Accessibility Requirements, EN301549, originally meant to be used in procurement, but also the minimum requirements for the Web Accessibility Directive, continues to spread throughout the world, now reaching Australia. At the same time, exams for IAAP certification was held for the first time Down Under.
Several countries in South America have already chosen the EN standard as a basis for policies and legislation and now Australia is following suit. In November, I was invited by Microsoft to perform workhops, seminars and information meetings in Canberra and Sydney on how the standard works and is intended to be used.
Australia has chosen to introduce the standard directly, so the already long name has become AS (EN) 301549. Beside the fact that the name is difficult, it is of course a great advantage that we now have the same accessibility requirements in yet another part of the world. The less fragmentation, the more chance we have to succeed in inclusion.
Procurement is important
The focus of my assignment was the procurement perspective from the federal authorities perspective, but also helping professionals to understand how the EN standard can be used as a tool. When procurement works with clear requirements, testing and control, it is often the most effective way to achieve a high level of accessibility. However, in order for the standard to be of any help, it is necessary that it is known, and that both procurers and suppliers know how to use it properly.
I also lectured and participated in a panel debate at the annual conference for the accessibility industry organized in Sydney, OZeWAI. At the same time, the conference offered the opportunity for professionals within accessibility to qualify for IAAP certification, which is another step in the right direction. It is extremely gratifying that our industry is becoming more professionalized, making it easier for procurers to choose competent suppliers.
At the conference, it became apparent that the EN standard is still not well known or in use in neither the public nor the private sector - yet. But the interest is great and although a lot of focus still seems to be on technical checklists, there were several speakers who wanted to broaden the discussion and take an inclusive perspective. That is providing good hope for the future.