Government backs ICT accessibility standard

Finance minister endorses EU-developed standard for procurement

The government has adopted a procurement standard intended to help people with a disability more easily access technology.

Finance minister Senator Mathias Cormann announced today that the government had adopted Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services.

“The new standard ensures that all Australians can access information and use services electronically by public authorities and other public sector agencies during the procurement process,” a statement issued by the minister said.

“The new standard can be used by all levels of government when determining technical specifications for the procurement of accessible ICT products and services.”

“It will provide a framework for developing and procuring a wide range of applications that will make ICT products and services more accessible for the 4.2 million Australians who are living with various types of disability,” said Standards Australia CEO, Dr Bronwyn Evans.

The standard is based on EN 301 549, which was issued by EU standards organisations in 2014 in response to a request from the European Commission.

The adoption of the Australian standard was supported by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and the Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin.

Microsoft Australia’s corporate affairs manager and accessibility lead, David Masters, welcomed the announcement. “This announcement clears the path for the standard to eventually be embedded into public procurement requirements to improve outcomes for people with a disability working in public sector agencies,” Masters said in a statement.

“EN 301 549 also provides an excellent benchmark for private sector organisations looking to ensure that technology products and services that they buy are usable by people with a disability in their workplaces.”