Accessibility in digital services can be achieved through cooperation

Published 2017-11-15 at 9:50

When online services are updated, it would be essential to cooperate with experts of organisations for the disabled on issues of accessibility already at the early stages, says Jaakko Evonen of the Finnish Deafblind Association.

Evonen feels that accessibility often is not raised until a project is in its final stages.

"At that time the situation that we run into was this could not be implemented because it should have been taken into consideration already at the initial stage. In addition, we also need to consider the people who, for some reason or another, cannot use smart equipment, or by extension, electronic services. Their participation in society must also be secured."

Jaakko Evonen

Accessibility does not only mean the technical functionality of online services with a screen reader, but also content, usability of services, and interaction.

"It is also a good idea to take advantage of experts from organisations, as they have the best expertise in language and structures, for instance. Don't hesitate to be together", emphasises Jaakko Evonen.

Accessibility is in everyone's interest

The D9 digitalisation team works on several different digital projects and accessibility issues have been raised in the projects especially now that the implementation of the new Accessibility Directive is approaching.

 "We developers undoubtedly still have some question marks on how to successfully take accessibility into consideration in everyday acts when the users of our services have such different needs. But we take the matter very seriously, and the issue is well recognised in different areas of state administration", says State Treasury Chief Digital Officer Nina Nissilä.

In accessibility matters it would be good to consider what kinds of requirements are placed on services and how they should be considered in procurement.

"We have considered accessibility in D9 and I would like to put forward a couple of tips. I hope that we would be capable in the future of putting a special focus on linguistic expression, as Jaakko also says. We will need to make efforts in this matter, as we need to be both precise and comprehensible at the same time."

Technology can actually increase intelligibility

"Second, I would raise the difference between digitisation and digitalisation. If a paper document is only 'digitised' onto the internet, it is often pretty difficult to use, and at worst, it can be hard to understand. An electronic form need not be identical in appearance to the paper form, even if it deals with the same issue. When this is kept in mind there are many possibilities available also for improving accessibility" says Nina Nissilä.