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Few among Singapore’s leading firms offer maximum website accessibility to users with special needs

30 December 2010

Few among Singapore’s leading firms offer maximum website accessibility to users with special needs

Spire’s analysis of the websites of Singapore’s top 100 companies suggests that only 5% offer web accessibility to users with special needs following the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) recommendations. In terms of public and private sector support for web accessibility, Singapore seems to be lagging other countries with comparable income levels such as South Korea, suggesting the need for business and government leaders to do more on this front.

Web accessibility to users with special needs has been provided by many leading global corporations. Clear international guidelines and best practice standards exist on how this can be done, in the form of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) recommendations and the activities of the W3C in promoting the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

However a new analysis by Spire Research and Consulting (which recently revamped its website to provide accessibility to special needs users following W3C guidelines) shows that of the top 100 companies in Singapore ranked by sales revenue, only 5% offer properly flagged and structured web accessibility to special needs users, using criteria such as posting web accessibility guidelines and explicitly referring to web accessibility on the site.

One example of a leading company in Singapore which offers a high standard of accessibility on its website is Hewlett-Packard (HP). This is not surprising as HP is the world’s largest consumer IT Company and has been implementing accessibility designs and features into its website since 2000. More recently, members of the HP Web accessibility team have been actively promoting the importance of accessible websites to other organizations, alongside sharing best practices.

The South Korean Ministry of Public Administration is exerting public pressure on organisations to improve their web accessibility in consultation with disability groups and standards experts. Moreover, the government of Korea has enacted the Digital Divide Act which aims to promote access to IT environments for disabled and elderly people. Web accessibility is included as one of its major performance measures.

The Hong Kong government has been enhancing the accessibility of its websites and promoting the awareness of web accessibility to nongovernment organisations and the community since 2001.

The website of the Government Information Office, Republic of China (Taiwan) incorporates a Web Accessibility Service. The government has stated its aim to make the websites in Taiwan accessible to all users.

In Singapore, the Disabled People’s Association of Singapore (DPA) has been promoting Universal Web Accessibility, and has developed a handbook which helps in the development of websites and other electronic content that is universally accessible.

One of the guidelines for designing the Singapore government agencies’websites is the adoption of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 specifications to cater to the needs of people with disabilities. The Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is currently reviewing their Web Interface Standards to incorporate better web accessibility features into government websites.

Greater web accessibility promises benefits to companies in the form of access to a new and under-served market segment (special needs users) and brand image enhancement. Promoting web accessibility may also generate benefits in terms of country branding and the ability of countries to attract talent from the special needs community.

About Spire Research and Consulting
Spire Research and Consulting is the leading research consultancy in global emerging markets. Spire’s competitive advantage lies in its ability to deliver to its clients actionable intelligence on the external business environment in support of their strategic decision-making in marketing and business development. Spire’s clients include fifty Global Fortune 1000 companies and Government agencies in 15 countries. For more information, visit us at www.spireresearch.com

For media enquiries, please contact:
Esther Teo
Executive, Group Corporate Communications
Spire Research and Consulting
Phone: (65) 6838-5355
E-mail: esther.teo@spireresearch.com

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