Mada Assistive Technology Center releases a digital accessibility monitor tool for measuring website accessibility, aiming with it to evaluate the degree of accessibility of information and services found on websites and their usability by all members of society independently, more specifically persons with disabilities and the elderly, especially to ensure completion of their governmental transactions.
In accordance with the continuously updating websites and digital accessibility content guidelines, Mada Center is keen to meet all the needs of users with disabilities and the elderly, through ensuring adherence of websites to the latest international digital accessibility guidelines. The concept of digital access can be condensed to all texts, buttons, and pages in any website are accessible, in other words, easy to access by all people, including persons with disabilities and the elderly.
Websites are considered one of the primary means of gaining information on various topics and making use of e-services (electronic services) offered by different sectors and entities within the country, including but not limited to, educational, social, and commercial services.
The state of Qatar has ratified the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) in the year 2011 out of its firm belief that persons with disabilities constitute a part of society. The convention emphasizes in the 9th article, “accessibility”, that “States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems”.
Since websites are one of the most important means of obtaining information and services and an integral part of the environment surrounding persons with disabilities, Mada Center has worked on developing the Mada Accessibility Monitor Tool, which will play a major role in helping entities monitor their websites’ implementation of digital content accessibility standards on a timely basis, through reports that are monitored through the tool, contributing to providing inclusive information and e-services for all.
Mada Accessibility Monitor Tool is supported by research and studies conducted by experts at Mada based on the international best practices and is considered the first of its kind in the region to simultaneously monitor and measure the percentage of digital accessibility based on the machine’s assessment and the facility of use with high accuracy, in accordance with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
Mada accessibility monitor tool is considered an important means to evaluate accessibility of websites and categorize them based on the percentage of accessibility and facility of use by persons with disabilities and the elderly. The categorization process occurs through deleting about 600 pages from the website and evaluating its application of the digital accessibility guidelines, as Mada accredits websites which abide by the guidelines that meet the digital accessibility requirements.
In a statement of hers, Maha Al-Mansouri, CEO of Mada Center, said: “Launching this tool comes as a continuation of our role in building the capabilities of sectors to comply with Qatar National E-accessibility Policy, through tailored training programs and platforms and in accordance with international best practices and standards to raise the quality of services provided to persons with disabilities and the elderly. We also continue to provide advisory sessions in the field of digital access and accredit digital platforms in accordance with international standards, to ensure digital inclusion for all and to support the right of persons with disabilities and the elderly to access information independently. This can only be achieved through joint efforts between us and other institutions in creating an accessible technological environment for persons with disabilities and the elderly to participate and interact in their digital society.”
It should be noted that digital accessibility assessment is not limited to websites, as the team responsible for digital accessibility at Mada Center also works towards assessing digital accessibility of smart phone applications, self-service machines, and various other digital platforms used by all members of society, to ensure the independence and privacy of persons with disabilities and the elderly in their various transactions.
Mada has accredited several digital platforms in the country which have abided by the accessibility guidelines and have passed the evaluation process, varying between websites, smart phone applications, self-service machines or what are known as electronic kiosks.
To raise awareness among web developers of the latest standards, the center provides workshops and training programs continuously throughout the year through the open training program and tailored training, targeting digital content creators and web developers in various state institutions; a fertile environment for exchanging consultations and information and answering all questions about digital accessibility standards and how to apply them.