UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation and the Government of Sweden, initiated research on digital accessibility in Ukraine
Kyiv, 14 September 2021 – Digital services must be accessible and convenient for everyone. Today, the project "Digital, Inclusive, Accessible: Support to Digitalisation of Public Services in Ukraine," implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the financial support of Sweden, presented two studies on digital accessibility in Ukraine: "Inclusiveness and human rights at the forefront. Accessibility of e-government services and tools for citizens in Ukraine" and "International practices on the accessibility of mobile applications of public authorities".
In the first study, 82 government websites and seven service platforms --- ATMs and terminals in government institutions --- were tested. The study showed that all these resources are not 100 percent accessible.
Dmytro Popov, one of the authors of that study, said universal solutions should be used. "The basic versions of Web portals and mobile applications must be accessible to various groups of users, Popov said. "It's also important to test the actual accessibility of all new web portals and mobile applications. And it's important to involve people with disabilities who use assistive software in the testing process."
The second study, "International practices on the accessibility of mobile applications of public authorities," examined how accessibility issues are regulated in other countries, and whether it is possible to apply their experience in Ukraine. The experience of 14 leading countries in digital accessibility was analysed to help formulate a clear action plan.
According to the recommendations made by the authors of the study, it would be advisable to adopt the harmonised standard EN 301 549 in Ukraine. All sites and mobile applications developed by authorities will have to comply with it. This will also require making improvements to legislation, developing technical recommendations, and conducting training for those responsible for digital accessibility.
Nicolaj Sonderbye, Senior Democracy and Human Rights Advisor, UNDP Ukraine, highlighted the significant progress Ukraine has made in the field of digital transformation. "The Diia initiative allows people in Ukraine to access public services online --- it's faster, more convenient, and safer in the COVID-19 era," Sonderbye said. "However, rapid digital transformation, in addition to new opportunities, also creates new challenges in terms of digital accessibility. Therefore, it is also necessary to make sure that all digital resources in Ukraine are digitally accessible and to put safeguards in place so that public funds cannot be used to fund the development of inaccessible online resources."
Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Oleksandr Shelest said that the main goal of the Ministry of Digital Transformation was to create the most convenient country for citizens, and the main way to do this is to ensure that it is barrier-free. "After all, it is impossible to talk about convenience if there are barriers," Shelest said. "To eliminate them, they first need to be identified, and so I'd like to thank UNDP for conducting research in this area. The results of the studies will chart a path by which we can confidently move towards our goal, combining the resources of the state and society."
Natalia Fedorovych, Head of the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, said that 40 percent more citizens addressed the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights in the first half of 2021 than in the same period last year, and 37 percent of these appeals were about violations by authorities of citizens' rights to access information. "The initiative, which is being systematically implemented by the Ministry of Digital Transformation with the support of international organisations, is an important one," Fedorovych said. "This is an absolute necessity, and a requirement if the constitutional rights of citizens to access information are to be observed."
Tetiana Lomakina, Advisor -- Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Barrier-Free Environment, and Tetiana Barantsova, Government Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, also supported the studies' conclusions.
Yuliia Samus, UNDP in Ukraine Communications Team Leader, email@example.com, +380971391475