Web Accessibility Policy Making:
An International Perspective
This document is an excerpt from the G3ict White Paper “Web Accessibility Policy Making: An International Perspective,” (Revised Edition 2012) researched and edited by Nirmita Narasimhan of Centre for Internet & Society, India, in collaboration with accessibility and disability policy experts from around the world. The paper seeks to identify some of the initiatives and best practices which have been adopted by 14 countries and the European Union as a first step towards policy formulation for countries.
The Philippines is making progress towards developing a policy and enacting legislation for web accessibility. The Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG)40 is tasked with overseeing and implementing relevant programs on accessible ICT. PWAG together with concerned government agencies has begun formulating an official set of Philippine Web Accessibility Design Recommendations based on a distinctly Philippine web accessibility regime rather than adopting the WCAG. The PWAG aims to develop standards that it feels are calibrated to the country’s needs and capabilities. The Philippines has signed and ratified the UNCRPD but not signed the Optional Protocol.
The Philippines currently lacks legislation or policy addressing web accessibility but is striving to make progress towards creating a policy. The initiatives it has undertaken are outlined below:
Manila Declaration on Accessible ICT and Manila Accessible ICT Design recommendation:
These were produced in 2003 to answer the relevant accessibility and technology questions of developing nations. The purpose of the declaration was to include accessible information as a human right, while the recommendation is a set of threshold level functional specifications for accessibility of technology. Co-developed by the United Nations and Cynthia Waddell, one of the chief architects of the U.S. Section 508, the recommendation is a set of best practices tailored to developing countries. Though these initiatives lack the force of law, many organizations in the Philippines adopt their provisions voluntarily.
The Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG):
Originally founded as a government-affiliated ad hoc working group in 2006, the Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG) is now formalized and government-supervised through the Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Council on Disability Affairs (DSWD-NCDA) and the National Computer Center-Commission on Information and Communications Technology (NCC-CICT). The PWAG is now tasked with overseeing and implementing relevant programs on accessible ICT in the Philippines. It fosters dialogue among activists, web designers, academics, the government and other relevant actors in the field; evaluates websites for accessibility; and together with concerned government agencies (NCDA and NCC-CICT) has begun formulating an official set of Philippine Web Accessibility Design Recommendations. Accessibility in the Philippines context has to be viewed in light of the fact that the dominant ICTs used are cell phones and short-message systems (SMS). Only a small fraction of the population is using computers, and almost nobody uses or can afford screen readers. The Philippines standards are being formulated based on this situation, and given the high cost of website remediation, the PWAG recommends adopting accessible designs primarily in conjunction with website design, redesign, or update.
2. Compliance with WCAG:
The final standards are expected to be only partially compliant.
The Philippines Web Accessibility Group