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Accessible Website Design Guidelines (Joint NCC-NCDA Circular No. 1, Series of 2010)

Accessible Website Design Guidelines
Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2010
June 29, 2010


WHEREAS, the Philippines ratified the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” (UNCRPD) on April 15, 2008, which recognizes the need to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

WHEREAS, Article 9 of the convention encourages states to take appropriate measures to ensure access of persons with disabilities on equal basis with others to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications including information and communications technologies and systems and all other facilities and services that may be open to the public.

WHEREAS, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 56/183 on December 21, 2001 which endorsed the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases (Geneva and Tunis) to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake and to put Geneva’s Plan of Action into motion as well as to find solutions and reach agreements in the fields of Internet governance, financing mechanisms, and follow-up and implementation of the Geneva and Tunis documents.

WHEREAS, the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society from 10-12 December 2003 draws as an outcome the “Geneva Declaration of Principles” which affirms that everyone, everywhere, should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits the Information Society offers. It also recognizes the special needs of the marginalized and vulnerable groups of society including the special needs of older persons and persons with disabilities to build an Information Society for All.

WHEREAS, the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society from 16-18 November 2005 outlined as an outcome the Tunis Commitment which obligates participating states to promote universal, ubiquitous, equitable and affordable access to ICTs, including universal design and assistive technologies, for all people, especially those with disabilities, everywhere, to ensure that the benefits are more evenly distributed between and within societies, and to bridge the digital divide in order to create digital opportunities for all and benefit from the potential offered by ICTs for development.

WHEREAS, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities was also adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 48th session on 20 December 1993, by virtue of Resolution 48/96 which recognizes the overall importance of accessibility in the process of the equalization of opportunities in all spheres of society. It also encourages States to develop strategies to make information services and documentation accessible for different groups of persons with disabilities ,and to ensure that new computerized information and service systems offered to the general public are either made initially accessible or are adapted to be made accessible to persons with disabilities.

WHEREAS, the Philippines is a signatory to the “Manila Declaration on Accessible ICT” which recognizes the importance of promoting the implementation of the “Manila ICT Design Recommendations” which sets the minimum threshold of accessibility with reasonable accommodation for websites access, to eliminate web-based information barriers.

WHEREAS, the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs at its fifty-eighth session, adopted resolution 58/4 of 22 May 2002 on promoting an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region in the twenty-first century, by which it proclaimed the extension of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, for another decade, 2003-2012. The resolution emphasizes seven (7) areas of priorities and concerns, which include Access to information and communications, including information, communication and assistive technologies that calls for governments to adopt ICT accessibility guidelines for persons with disabilities in their national ICT policies and specifically include persons with disabilities as their target beneficiary group with appropriate measures.

WHEREAS, Presidential Decree 1480 issued on June 11, 1978 provided for the restructuring of the National Computer Center and vested it among other things with the mandate ‘to formulate policies and prescribe standards on the acquisition and utilization of computers and related devices, data communications, information systems, and manpower development in support of national computerization objectives’

Section 1 Title: Accessible Website Designs
Pursuant to Article 9 of the UNCRPD which explicitly identifies Information Communication Technology (ICT), which includes government websites to be accessible to all types of citizens with disabilities: the blind, visually impaired, the deaf, the mobility impaired and consistent with the State policy to empower citizens, including those with disabilities access to vital information provided by government through websites of its departments, institutions and instrumentalities, this Circular hereby enjoins all government agencies to implement accessible website design in accordance with the technical guidelines set forth under Section 2 of this Joint Circular.

Section 2. Accessible Design Guidelines
As recommended by the Web Design Accessibility Recommendation (WDAR) checkpoints of the Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG), the following guidelines are hereby promulgated:
Maturity Stage 1 (MS 1) Checkpoints
MS 1-1 Provide an Access Instruction page for visitors explaining the accessibility features of the web site. Put an e-mail hyperlink for visitors to communicate web page accessibility problems.
MS 1-2 Avoid using words such as “This” or “Click Here” in creating links. Use descriptive hyperlinks to support text browsers.
MS 1-3 Attach ALT(alternative) text to graphic images so that assistive computer technology such as screen readers can reach the content.
MS 1-4 Provide a “D” hyperlink to a page providing descriptive text of photographs that contribute meaningful content to the page.
MS 1-5 Provide text transcriptions or descriptions for all audio and video clips.
MS 1-6 Provide alternative mechanisms for online forms such as e-mail or voice/TTY phone numbers since forms are not supported by all browsers.
MS 1-7 Avoid access barriers like: PDF files with no equivalent HTML or ASCII files, non-linear page formats, frame formats and content that requires user to download software to access it.
Maturity Stage 2 (MS 2) Checkpoints
MS 2-1 For ALT texts:
MS 2-1-1 Decorative images must contain null ALT text or ALT=””.
MS 2-1-2 Anchor elements within the Image Maps must contain ALT texts.
MS 2-1-3 ALT texts that have more than 80 characters long must instead be changed to “D” hyperlink.
MS 2-2 Provide a Site Map with a link appearing on every page.
MS 2-3 All pages must provide a link back to the home page.
MS 2-4 Use Access keys in creating shortcuts to important links and form controls.
MS 2-5 Provide a “Skip to Content” link in every page.
MS 2-6 Make the language that you use in your web site easy to understand.
MS 2-7 Do not use blinking, rolling or scrolling markup tags on your web pages.
MS 2-8 Provide a LABEL text and ALT text on the input elements of your forms.
MS 2-9 Avoid using the FONT SIZE markup in your web pages or change the size to relative units.
MS 2-10 Provide a Search form within your site.
MS 2-11 Layout must be navigable even if the page style is turned off.
MS 2-12 Website content must appear clearly even when colors are turned off.

Section 3. Training.
The National Council for Disability Affairs shall conduct training for all duly designated webmasters on scheduled dates as seen in the Attachment.

Section 4. Funding.
Expenses in compliance to this order shall be taken from the one (1) percent allocation for persons with disabilities and the senior citizens as provided by the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Section 5. Supplementary Rules.
NCDA and NCC shall, jointly or separately issue other rules and regulations as maybe necessary to effect the objectives of this Joint Circular.

Section 6. Effectivity.
This Joint Memorandum Circular shall take effect immediately after its publication to a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.

National Council on Disability Affairs
Director General
National Computer Center

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