WU website awarded WACA certification
WU is the first university in Austria to be awarded the official, independent WACA Certificate in bronze for its entire website.
There are around 1.7 million people in Austria living with a temporary or permanent disability (source: Statistics Austria). According to the WHO definition, around 320,000 people in Austria alone (4% of the population) are severely vision-impaired, i.e. have an ocular disease in an advanced stage. This is an important factor to consider when designing websites.
Certification based on international standards
Different target groups, from students to researchers, employees to the general public, and the presentation of a wide range of information, from academic units to information about degree programs to the research portal, all make WU’s website very complex. Numerous subpages are necessary. “Adapting our website to comply with international accessibility criteria was definitely a challenge, but one we were happy to take on. After all, WU is a responsible university, and as such is aware of its responsibility towards society with regard to inclusion,” says WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger. Accessibility was also a key factor when working on the comprehensive re-launch of the website in 2016, and continuous work has been done to improve it since then. Through these adjustments, the user-friendliness of the website has been improved, which ultimately benefits all visitors, regardless of whether they have an impairment. The agencies Plan2Net and Fonda supported WU during this process. Now, WU was subject to a strict, comprehensive audit. The website was certified according to the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG-2.1, Conformance AA). TÜV Austria acts as the WACA certification authority, while the Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs, a self-help group for the blind and vision-impaired, acts as the implementing body.
Only few websites of public institutions provide optimal accessibility
WACA project manager and certified web accessibility expert Werner Rosenberger explains, “The Web Accessibility Certificate Austria is the only qualification of its kind in Austria and represents the highest standards for web accessibility. This official certificate of the WACA initiative recognizes organizations for special achievements in web accessibility.
For people with temporary or permanent disabilities, barrier-free accessibility facilitates access to information, allowing them to fully participate in society.” He adds, “Due to the size and complexity of WU’s website, the bronze-level certificate is a very remarkable achievement and is a good example, especially for other universities. Only few of the websites of public institutions subject to the Austrian Web Accessibility Act (Web-Zugänglichkeits-Gesetz, WZG) have reached this level yet.”