Federal Web sites chided for accessibility, usability issues

Critics cite technical problems at Section508.gov and reduced customer satisfaction scores.

The accessibility and usability of some federal Web sites suffered a few pokes this week.

The newly-created Section508.gov Web site took a hit for its alleged lack of accessibility from the WebAxe blogger Web site.

“The site, which is U.S. government law with rules for Web accessibility, should itself be an example of an accessible web site,” Webaxe blog stated in a July 27 critique. “But instead, unfortunately, this was a failed attempt.” The blog entry included a list of 24 technical problems alleged to affect accessibility of the site.

Also in the news, Government Technology reported that the American Customer Satisfaction Index for federal Web sites has dropped. The ACSI measured satisfaction levels at 74.7 percent, down from 75.1 percent in the first quarter -- although still above the year-ago level of 73.6 percent.

The authors attributed the reduced scores to changes that agencies have been making on their Web sites to fulfill President Barack Obama's Open Government Initiative.

Federal agencies soon will have to undergo Justice Department evaluations to determine if they are complying with Section 508 disability requirements for accessible Web sites. The reviews will be the first since 2004.