CityU wins two gold awards for its barrier-free webpages

by Eliza Lee
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City University of Hong Kong (CityU) was conferred two Gold Awards at the first Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme Awards Presentation Ceremony on 15 April in recognition of its effort to undertake social responsibilities and use information technology to make websites more accessible and friendly for all users.

 

The Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme was jointly organised by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer of the HKSAR government and the Equal Opportunities Commission, aiming to appreciate different organisations’ initiatives in building barrier-free webpages with outstanding designs.

The websites of the University and CityU’s Office of the Chief Information Officer received the Gold Awards. CityU was the only local university to earn two Gold Awards among some 100 entries.

Barrier-free websites mean that the entire content of a website is open to all users. This is not only for the disabled and the elderly, but also for those with special needs such as people with colour blindness, cognitive impairment, dyslexia, and epilepsy.

Dr Andy Chun Hon-wai, CityU’s Chief Information Officer, said the University started to use HTML5/CSS3 to construct its barrier-free websites as early as 2011. The University’s more than 500,000 webpages in 100 websites are now centrally managed and designed for easy access.

The Gold Awards this year recognising CityU’s sincere effort in fulfilling its social responsibilities follow last year’s achievement when the University was named a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate, which is a US award.

“CityU undertakes its responsibility to disseminate knowledge because barrier-free websites not only make it easier for people around the world to search for information, but also help to build a caring and inclusive community,” Dr Chun said.

To win the Gold Award, a website must fulfill all 21 judging criteria on the accessibility guidelines for web content in accordance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). For example, the content and coding of a webpage must be compatible with assistive tools used by people with special physical difficulties.

Dr Chun said CityU’s webpage designers had worked very hard to match the navigation design and arrangement of the content with the needs of people with disabilities. The design enables them to use aiding tools such as screen-reading software and braille to browse, search and read the webpages.

In addition, CityU has received the 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate in the Sustainability Category for its “University Paperless Office Project”. The award presentation ceremony will be held in Washington DC in June.

Dr Chun said he was grateful for the effort and enthusiasm that CityU’s information technology team had put into making good use of new technology for sustainable development. Thanks to their good work, he said, CityU’s Human Resources Office and Finance Office were able to convert more than a million pages of documents into electronic files, significantly reducing paper consumption.