Frequently Asked Questions

 

 Basic Understanding on Web/Mobile App Accessibility

 
Q1. What is web/mobile app accessibility?
Q2. Why do websites and mobile applications need to be accessible?
Q3. How do persons with disabilities use websites or mobile applications?
Q4. What international guidelines govern web/mobile app accessibility?
Q5. Where should I start to make a website or mobile application accessible?

 

General Background Related to Persons with Disabilities

 
Q1. What is the potential number of target beneficiaries for persons with disabilities?
Q2. What are the barriers to persons with disabilities in accessing websites or mobile applications?

 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

 
Q1. While the government websites have been conformed to the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard, is conformance to WCAG 2.0 Level A standard for the private sector already sufficient?
Q2. Is the requirement of meeting W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard for government websites also apply to public organisations?

 

Implementation, Assessment and Declaration of Conformance

 
Q1. If our organisation is going to outsource web/mobile app accessibility rectification services, are there any special requirements that need to be specified in the service specification?
Q2. How may an organisation test a website or mobile application for compliance with the W3C WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements or the requirements in the Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook published by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer?
Q3. What assessment services are provided in the market? Does the industry have sufficient manpower capacity and necessary skills in undertaking the implementation requests from the public and private sectors?
Q4. How may organisations declare conformance of their websites or mobile applications?

 

Accreditation

 
Q1. Will the Government arrange any web/mobile app accessibility assessment and accreditation services for the private sector?

 

Technical Issues

 
Q1. How should website and mobile application developers use CAPTCHA as a security implementation to protect the system from spambot take into account accessibility needs?
Q2. How should someone developing a website using Ajax address the accessibility issues?
Q3. Do we need to develop a text-only version of a website in order to cater for accessibility issues?
Q4. How may PDF documents be made accessible?
Q5. It is quite common for a website or mobile application to have a statement which suggests appropriate software for viewing the website or mobile application. Is it relevant to mention accessibility in such statements?
Q6. If a website or mobile application has an online map to show locations, e.g. locations of branches/offices, how to make it accessible?

 

Miscellaneous

 
Q1. What is the accessibility status of websites and mobile appplications for public and private sectors?

 

Basic Understanding on Web/Mobile App Accessibility

 

 
Q1. What is web/mobile app accessibility?
A1. Web/mobile app accessibility is about whether all people, irrespective of age, race, education or disability, can access all the information and services in websites or mobile applications – including images and video, text, downloadable text, online shopping, social media applications, etc.
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Q2. Why do websites and mobile applications need to be accessible?
A2. There are many reasons why websites and mobile applications need to be accessible, including –

Social Responsibility – Everyone has the responsibility to treat persons with disabilities the same as we treat persons without disabilities. This is especially important for websites and mobile applications, as they often allow persons with disabilities to live a more normal life. In some cases a website or mobile application is the only way for persons with disabilities to access up-to-date information.

Legal Responsibility – The Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 487) created a legal duty for organisations to ensure their services are available to everyone regardless of disability. This principle is applicable to information and services provided through websites and mobile applications.

Access to a Hidden Market – Effective web/mobile app accessibility allows government websites and mobile applications to reach more citizens and corporate websites and mobile applications to reach and retain more online customers.

Rank More Prominently in Search Result – Many features making a website accessible, such as enforcing proper coding of the webpages and presenting the contents in a clear and structured manner, which help search engine to search website contents and compile index.

Reduce Costs – Building accessible websites and mobile applications requires good coding techniques, which in turn lead to websites and mobile applications that are easier to maintain and compatible with various operating systems, browsers and devices. Attention to web/mobile app accessibility guidelines therefore saves time and money of development teams in the long term, especially when new releases of systems are rolled out.
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Q3. How do persons with disabilities use websites or mobile applications?
A3. Different disabilities require different techniques and tools –
- Visually impaired persons use screen reading software and screen magnifiers;
- Physically impaired persons use voice control software and modified keyboards;
- Hearing impaired persons require to have text transcripts of audio content or subtitles on video contents; and
- Person with cognitive disabilities require to have websites and mobile applications of simple content and structure, and be given adequate time to understand what they read.
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Q4. What international guidelines govern web/mobile app accessibility?
A4. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been developed over the years by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which consists of people from industries, disability organisations, government, and research labs from around the world. The guidelines explain how to make web content, including content used on mobile devices more accessible to persons with disabilities.

The latest version of WCAG is version 2.0. Currently there are no separate guidelines for mobile accessibility. W3C is developing more specific guidance on mobile accessibility.

Please refer the following documents for more information:
The WCAG 2.0 guidelines:
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/
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Q5. Where should I start to make a website or mobile application accessible?
A5. Senior executives and managers, who are going to drive accessibility projects, need to better understand web/mobile app accessibility and engage relevant web/mobile app development contractors or train their staff to undertake testing of the website or mobile application in a structured way. The testing includes reviewing and assessing the website or mobile application to find out components and contents that cannot be properly communicated to persons with disabilities. In addition, they may consider having the website or mobile application to be tested by persons with disabilities so as to identify issues that are missed by other testing techniques. Arrangement should then be made to rectify the identified accessibility issues. Please refer to the Web Accessibility Handbook and Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook in this website for further information.

To facilitate the sourcing of ICT professional services for the implementation of web/mobile app accessibility designs, we have set up a Web/Mobile App Designers' Corner for companies and organisations interested in providing such service for reference.
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General Background Related to Persons with Disabilities

 

 
Q1. What is the potential number of target beneficiaries for persons with disabilities?
A1. According to the figures from C&SD, as of December 2013, there are some 578 600 persons with disabilities (about 8.1% of total population) in Hong Kong. Web Accessibility features also facilitate the elderly and people beset with minor physical limitation (e.g. colour blindness) to browse the web.

Detailed breakdown of persons with disabilities in Hong Kong (as of December 2013) -
Type of Disability No. of Person As % of Total Population(%)
Restriction in body movement 320 500 4.5
Seeing difficulty 174 800 2.4
Hearing difficulty 155 200 2.2
Mental illness / mood disorder 147 300 2.1
Speech difficulty 49 300 0.7
Autism 10 200 0.1
Specific learning difficulties 17 700 0.2
Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder 12 800 0.2
Total(note) 578 600 8.1%

Note: Census and Statistics Department’s figures as of December 2013, with total 578 600 persons with disabilities (about 8.1% of total population) in Hong Kong having one or more types of disability.
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Q2. What are the barriers to persons with disabilities in accessing websites or mobile applications?
A2. We had conducted several focus group discussions with representatives from disability groups. According to their feedback, some major difficulties they face in accessing websites or mobile applications are as follows –
Type of Disability Difficulties
Restrictions in body movement - For some time-limited functions, the time allowed, e.g. for input, is too short
- Unable to skip flash and moving objects which disturb them
- Small font sizes or insufficient colour contrast
- Clickable items are too small to select
- Gesture for control and sliding bar are difficult to use (for mobile application only)
Seeing difficulties - Unable to skip flash and moving objects which disturb them
- No alternatives for non-text information
- Small font sizes or insufficient colour contrast
- Some of the items are not accessible (e.g. menu)
- Structure is too complicated to navigate through using assistive tools
- Relies on touch screen to operate (for mobile application only)
- Application crashed after assistive tools function is on (for mobile application only)
Hearing difficulties - Lack of sign language
- Contents are too complicated to understand
- Small subtitle fonts
- Poor resolution of picture-in-picture sign language video
- Lack of vibrating alerts/visual notification (for mobile application only)
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Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

 

 
Q1. While the government websites have been conformed to the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard, is conformance to WCAG 2.0 Level A standard for the private sector already sufficient?
A1. To keep in pace with the latest international standards and do more for the benefit of persons with disabilities, government websites, except archive materials, have been complied with the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA web accessibility requirements with effect from 1 January 2013. We consider that level A achieves only a minimum level of accessibility. On the other hand, while level AAA provides highest standards of accessibility, conformance to Level AAA may need substantial resources from the organisations under certain circumstances. To achieve the right balance, Level AA conformance would generally enable persons with disabilities to use a website. We hope that other public and private organisations would be aware of the importance of web accessibility design and conform to the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard for their websites as far as practicable. We also encourage organisations to adopt Level AAA standard, where appropriate, such as providing sign language for video and audio files.
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Q2. Is the requirement of meeting W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard for government websites also apply to public organisations?
A2. We have conducted several focus group discussions with representatives from disability groups to better understand the major difficulties faced by persons with disabilities in accessing websites. According to their feedback, persons with disabilities still encounter some significant barriers in accessing the websites of public organisations. As the government websites have been conformed to the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard with effect from 1 January 2013, public organisations are also encouraged to make their websites conform to this standard to the maximum extent possible, with a view to making website information and services accessible to all.
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Implementation, Assessment and Declaration of Conformance

 

 
Q1. If our organisation is going to outsource web/mobile app accessibility rectification services, are there any special requirements that need to be specified in the service specification?
A1. In the service specification, service providers should be requested to comply with the intended levels of the W3C WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements. Regarding acceptance of the delivered websites or mobile applications, organisations may request their service providers to also perform accessibility assessments by the same service providers, or may acquire separate accessibility assessment services in the market. Please refer the Guide to Preparation of Procurement Specification for Accessible Websites, and the Guide to Preparation of Procurement Specification for Accessible Mobile Applications which provides sample specifications for accessible website or mobile application.
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Q2. How may an organisation test a website or mobile application for compliance with the W3C WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements or the requirements in the Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook published by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer?
A2. Depending on the importance and the utilisation of information dissemination by the website/mobile application, the organisation may request its service provider to perform various kinds of accessibility testing, including code scanning, visual review, manual screen reader testing and testing with other assistive tools. Organisations may also perform human testing by persons with disabilities. Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which support persons with disabilities offer affordable human testing services. Please refer to the Chapter 10 – Five Testing Techniques for Web Accessibility in the Web Accessibility Handbook for more details on testing website and the Chapter 5 – Testing Strategy for Developers in the Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook for more details on testing mobile app. For information about companies and organisations providing human testing services, please visit Web/Mobile App Designers’ Corner..
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Q3. What assessment services are provided in the market? Does the industry have sufficient manpower capacity and necessary skills in undertaking the implementation requests from the public and private sectors?
A3. Web/mobile app technologies and related programming languages are widely adopted nowadays by the industry for developing websites or mobile applications. Meanwhile, the well-established W3C website offers, apart from developing the WCAG 2.0 standard, a substantial amount of support materials and resources in relation to web/mobile app accessibility. These materials include tutorials, planning and implementation techniques and evaluation tips, etc. Given the abundant supply of experienced web/mobile app developers in the industry as well as extensive online accessibility resources, many web/mobile app developers should be able to develop accessible websites or mobile applications and assess them accordingly. In addition, there are service providers in the market providing accessibility assessment services. Some non-government organisations (NGOs) which support persons with disabilities also provide human testing services to assess accessibility of websites and mobile applications.
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Q4. How may organisations declare conformance of their websites or mobile applications?
A4. For websites, conformance claim is basically on a webpage by webpage basis. W3C provides at its website conformance logos for WCAG 2.0 Level A, AA and AAA conformance that can be used for displaying on compliant webpages. Please refer http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG2-Conformance for information on using the W3C WCAG 2.0 conformance logos. Moreover, organisations are recommended to provide an accessibility statement with contact points in their websites for users to contact the person in charge of the website while encountering difficulties.

For mobile applications, since there are no separate guidelines for mobile accessibility published by W3C, organisations may consider provide an accessibility statement, either within the mobile application or at the download page, to declare conformance to the best practices documented in OGCIO’s Mobile Application Accessibility Handbook.
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Accreditation

 

 
Q1. Will the Government arrange any web/mobile app accessibility assessment and accreditation services for the private sector?
A1. Since we launched the Web Accessibility Campaign in late 2011, we have been actively promoting the awareness of the private sector on web/mobile app accessibility through seminars, experience sharing workshops and resource portal. To further encourage their adoption, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) jointly organised four rounds of the Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme to show appreciation to businesses and organisations for making their websites and mobile applications accessible and provide free assessment and advisory services. Under the scheme, websites and mobile applications of the participating organisations meeting the accreditation criteria will be authorised to display the gold or silver award logo as recognition for their achievement in adopting barrier-free design, hence contributing to a caring and inclusive society. For more details about the Recognition Scheme, please refer to the Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme theme page.
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Technical Issues

 

 
Q1. How should website and mobile application developers use CAPTCHA as a security implementation to protect the system from spambot while take into account accessibility needs?
A1. According to suggestion of the WCAG 2.0 success criterion 1.1.1 – Non-text Content, text alternatives that identify and describe the purpose of CAPTCHA should be provided. This can be achieved through provision of alternative forms of CAPTCHA using output modes for different types of sensory perception to accommodate different disabilities. For example, audio CAPTCHA can be additional option besides the provision of visual CAPTCHA.
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Q2. How should someone developing a website using Ajax address the accessibility issues?
A2. Many web applications developed with Ajax (also known as AJAX), DHTML, and other technologies pose additional accessibility challenges. For example, if the content of a web page changes in response to user actions or time- or event-based updates, that new content may not be available to some people, such as people who are blind or people with cognitive disabilities who use a screen reader. The Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (WAI-ARIA) of W3C addresses these accessibility challenges by defining how information can be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, an advanced web content or web application can be made accessible to persons with disabilities, especially dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript and related technologies For details, please refer to WAI-ARIA of W3C at http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/aria.
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Q3. Do we need to develop a text-only version of a website in order to cater for accessibility issues?
A3. There are two approaches to facilitate accessibility of websites, viz. a text-only version in addition to the primary version (or graphic version), or including features in existing websites to make them more accessible to the persons with disabilities.

According to the feedback in focus group discussions with some disabled groups, many persons with disabilities prefer visiting the graphic versions of websites, as they usually disseminate more information and services as compared with the text-only versions. In addition, if text-only version is adopted, organisations are reminded to keep the text-only versions updated and prevent asymmetrical contents in the two versions. When graphic version is verified to be accessible, text-only version may be considered to remove.
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Q4. How may PDF documents be made accessible?
A4. PDF document is basically accessible if it is produced from text-based source document so that it is readable by Braille devices used by persons with visual impairments. Please refer “PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0” for details at the following link –
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG-TECHS/pdf.html

For image-based documents, such as TIF files produced by scanning, should be converted into text-based documents with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software prior to producing the PDF document. To test a PDF document, various kinds of web accessibility testing, including accessibility checking using Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker, testing tool such as PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC), Sortsite can be used. In addition, it is recommended to access the PDF document using a screen reader to ensure all contents are ordered in a logical sequence.
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Q5. It is quite common for a website or mobile application to have a statement which suggests appropriate software for viewing the website or mobile application. Is it relevant to mention accessibility in such statements?
A5. Content owners are recommended to include an accessibility statement in their websites or mobile applications about how the content can best be viewed, such as the prevailing versions of several popular web browsers supported by the websites, or the screen reader supported by the mobile applications, as well as the contact points for users of website or mobile application to contact the person in charge while encountering difficulties. The fourth principle of W3C WCAG 2.0 states that content must be robust enough so that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, such as web browsers and assistive technologies. As such, content owners are suggested to try out their website and mobile application content using the prevailing versions of popular web browsers and may include the relevant recommended user agents.
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Q6. If a website or mobile application has an online map to show locations, e.g. locations of branches/offices, how to make it accessible?
A6. Some websites or mobile applications use online maps to display the location of branches/offices. Persons with visual impairment may find it difficult to access the location information with screen reader because in addition to the branches/offices, other location information in the neighborhood will be spoken out by the screen reader as well causing unnecessary confusions. Therefore, the location information should therefore be provided in an alternative means. For example, the website or mobile application should provide a separate list of all branches in text format to show the required information.
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Miscellaneous

 

 
Q1. What is the accessibility status of websites and mobile applications for public and private sectors?
A1. The Government has developed accessibility guidelines for government websites and mobile applications with reference to the W3C WCAG requirements. All government websites are conformed to the guidelines and reached the latest accessibility requirements of the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard and all government mobile applications developed after December 2014 are required to equip with accessibility functions.

A survey conducted in 2015 by a non-government organisation (NGO) supporting persons with visual impairments, out of 31 websites which their members frequently visit, nearly all of them meet 70% success criteria of the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard and out of 28 mobile applications which their members frequently use, nearly all of them meet 65% accessibility requirements.