The Failure of Local Government Website Accessibility
Government services are increasingly provided electronically, and frequently in an exclusive manner whereby traditional print copy is no longer available. This places a special burden upon government to ensure that Web sites delivering information and services are accessible for people with blindness or low vision who utilize assistive computer technology. This article reports on a study, from the fall of 2005, of local governments throughout one Midwestern state that identified (1) the extent of Web page accessibility and (2) the barriers that local government officials perceive in designing accessible Web sites. The results suggest that factors other than lack of funding, poor staffing, and lack of training in accessibility law serve as barriers to developing accessible Web sites. This topic is particularly important to the future of public administration because recent research has established a connection between the use of local government Web sites and trust in government, a trust that is grounded in both social and digital inclusion. A clear finding of concern is that every local government homepage and subordinate employment Web page tested contained accessibility errors suggesting digital exclusion.
Keywords: Web Site, Accessibility, Local Government, Perceived Barriers
Dr. Robert J. Sobie
Assistant Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Affairs and Administration
Dr. Matthew S. Mingus
Associate Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Affairs and Administration