The investigation was sparked by user complaints to the Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) which believes government department services should regularly review the accessibility of its websites.
The Transperth website provides scheduling information across all methods of public transport including bus, train and ferry services in the Perth metropolitan area. Yet despite its high significance to West Australians, the website does not conform to current web accessibility standards.
An examination of the site by Media Access Australia's Western Australia manager and Access iQ™ accessibility specialist Dr Scott Hollier identified issues in nine of the 12 WCAG 2.0 guidelines which the state government has said it will adhere to by the end of 2013, one year later than the Federal government's timeframe for making its websites accessible.
Issues on the website include:
- Poor contrast
- Lack of alternative text for standalone images and images used in links
- Cluttered interface which is difficult to navigate
- Difficult to use Journey Planner: even if you type in the exact name of the location/landmark, it still prompts you with a box of options to confirm that you've entered the correct option
- Coding errors on the website make it difficult to use a screen reader
- Some drop-down options change automatically when highlighted making it difficult to use with a keyboard
- Forms are missing labels
- Text like 'click here' is used for links instead of more descriptive terms, meaning people using screen readers won't know what the links are for
AWIA committee member Bret Treasure adds, "the Journey Planner is so poor that many people use Google Maps to find the bus stop number then copy that information across to the Transperth site." Mr Treasure also points out that the current website was built in 2006, which would suggest the website was created before the WCAG 2.0 guidelines were released in December 2008 emphasising the website is long overdue for an accessibility overhaul.
Dr Hollier stated that "While it's great to see the WA government taking the steps necessary to ensure all government websites meet accessibility standards by 2013, a website such as Transperth which is vital to consumers should be seen as an accessibility priority."
Media Access Australia, in partnership with the University of South Australia, offers a six-week online web accessibility course, Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility, for ICT professionals who wish to learn more about incorporating accessibility into their work practices.