Governments offer almost all services digitally, but accessibility lags behind

Governments offer almost all services digitally, but accessibility lags behind

Most European governments are currently well-digitized. 86 percent of services have a digital version. However, governments fail to serve all residents in their online offerings, as the majority of websites do not meet all the criteria for accessibility.

The used criteria for measuring the accessibility of online government services are officially stated in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). More than six in 10 websites (65%) do not meet the eight criteria of these guidelines.

In contrast, the survey acknowledges that governments are designing online services with the user in mind. The study refers mainly to services that also have a mobile-friendly variant. More than nine in 10 websites have been adapted for this format, a strong advance from 2017, when a figure of 60 percent showed there was still plenty of room for improvement.

These results come from Capgemini’s eGovernment Benchmark report. For this purpose, the digitization of European governments is tracked annually. This year, about 15,000 services were examined.

Cooperation between EU countries improves

The study also praises European governments for making services increasingly accessible to residents living in other European countries. In other words, services are available for cross-border users. This is an improvement from 59 points to 66 points. In absolute figures, there still appears to be plenty of room for improvement in this area; 44 percent of services are not yet accessible beyond national borders.

The EU wants to improve this percentage with the Interoperable Europe Act. This is part of its digital ambitions, which call for the governments of European member states to be fully represented online by 2030. The Act was passed earlier this year and member states have been required to follow the framework for cooperation with other EU countries since this year.

The Netherlands scores above average

The Dutch government’s online representation is very high. Overall, a score of 85 points is handed out, while the European average is still at 76 points.

One very clear area for improvement is informing users about the collection of personal information. In the Dutch services surveyed, this was not shown at all. In addition, scores are just below average (54% versus 56%) on the accessibility of services for people who do not live in the Netherlands.

Also read: Dutch government to invest further in cyber resilience

Belgium scores average

Belgian governments’ digital services are in line with the European average. A total of 78 points is awarded, which aligns with the average of 76 points.

Websites appear to score below average in terms of transparency. The service delivery and service design processes score only adequate, at 53 percent and 58 percent, respectively. Both are below the European average.

Overall, the report shows that European governments are making progress in digitization. In the next phase governments will have to consider how to improve accessibility further so that all residents can access digital services. The Netherlands scores above average on digital representation but falls short in transparency about data collection, while Belgium is in line with the European average but needs improvement in transparency.

Tip! W3C gives new recommendations for building an accessible site