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Website Access

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the actions he (a) has taken and (b) is taking to ensure that the websites of his Department, its Agencies and non-departmental public bodies are accessible to partially sighted and blind people; and if he will make a statement. [118842]

The Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments, together with their Agencies and NDPBs, have:

  • (a) been following best practice as set down by the Office of the eEnvoy in the Cabinet Office, which requires adherence to international standards. These standards have ensured that pages on departmental websites can be read by 'screen reader' software, 'screen magnification' software or other assistive technologies which are commonly used by blind and partially sighted people; and
  • (b) during the current year, the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) will condense available guidance into a practical guide for designers that will ensure even greater consistency of approach. This work will include consultation with recognised disability interest groups such as RNIB. The planned introduction of web content management software by Departments will facilitate the conversion of site content for specialist devices.