Accessibility and standard
Accessibility consists of making an Internet site available to anyone, regardless of their equipment, language, culture, geographic location or physical and mental ability.
To define an accessible site, the W3C has made recommendations, the W.A.I. (Web Accessibility Initiative), in 1996 and set up a working party in February 1997. That working party's remit was to suggest technical solutions to make the Internet accessible to handicapped persons. These recommendations are presented in the form of 92 criteria classified in three categories : priority 1 (A), priority 2 (AA) and priority 3 (AAA).
The French legal system adopted Law 2005-102 of 11th February 2005 on equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship for handicapped people and by means of Article 47 of that law made it compulsory for public services to have an accessible site.
The on-line public communication services of State departments, local authorities and public establishments dependent on them must be accessible to handicapped people.
The accessibility of on-line public communication services relates to access to all types of digital information regardless of the means of access, content and method of consultation. International recommendations for Internet accessibility must be applied in respect of on-line public communication services.
A Council of State decree establishes the rules relating to accessibility and, by reference to the recommendations laid down by the Agency for the Development of Electronic Administration, specifies the type of adaptations to be implemented as well as the time limits for existing sites to comply, which cannot be more than three years, as well as the sanctions imposed in the event of non-compliance with this accessibility. The decree also sets out procedures for training personnel involved in on-line public communication services.
This law will soon be extended to all sites.
Compliance with Web standards (simplification of the code via XHTML, use of style sheets via CSS, etc.) has given surfers rapid access to a wealth of information.