The Government Communications Office (GCO) is committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of visual, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments. The GCO’s website fully complies with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Level AA accessibility standards.

More information about website accessibility standards is available below. For additional information on creating accessible websites, visit the W3C Accessibility Initiative.

Website Accessibility Overview

Websites should be designed and developed so that all people can access them, no matter what their circumstances. This page provides an introduction to planning and developing accessible websites. It also provides links to more in-depth content for people wishing to learn more.

The first step in creating accessible sites is to consider the types of users. Some will use websites in different ways than most users would. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines these user groups as having at least one of following characteristics:

In 1999 W3C launched the first set of guidelines for site designers and developers to help them better meet the needs of all website users.

Priorities for Accessible Web Design

The W3C guidelines define 3 sets of priorities for accessible website design:

1. Priority 1 or ‘A’ level accessibility

Achieving this level is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to access information and use Web documents. A web content developer must satisfy this level.

2. Priority 2 or ‘AA’ level accessibility if this and priority 1 are satisfied

Achieving this level will remove significant barriers to accessing information in web documents. A web content developer should satisfy this level.

3. Priority 3 or ‘AAA’ level accessibility if this and priority 1 and 2 are satisfied

Achieving this level will improve access to web documents. A web content developer may address this level, otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document.

Designing and developing accessible websites not only ensures that all users have the best possible experience, if a website is built to satisfy W3C standards, it is also likely to perform much better on search engines, work across multiple browsers, be quicker to load and work across multiple devices. These are all very important in today’s connected world.