The Failure of Local Government Website Accessibility

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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
Stream: Human Technologies and Usability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Failure of Local Government Website Accessibility, The

Dr. Robert J. Sobie

Assistant Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Affairs and Administration
Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Robert J. Sobie (Ph.D., Western Michigan University) is an assistant professor of public administration within the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is also Director of Information Systems for Eaton County, Michigan. His research interests focus on the impact of technology on marginalized groups, public sector leadership, and state and local government.

Dr. Matthew S. Mingus

Associate Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Affairs and Administration
Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Matthew S. Mingus (Ph.D., Colorado) is Associate Professor and Doctoral Director at Western Michigan University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration. He is both a Fulbright Scholar and a Truman Scholar, and has published research in the International Journal of Public Administration, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Administrative Theory and Praxis, Public Administration Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Ref: T08P0413