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Accessible online services benefit all – and accessibility is obliged by the Finnish law


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Accessibility improves the usability of services for all

Accessibility and usability are closely linked: an accessible online service is typically more usable to all users. In other words, accessibility makes the service more convenient to use also for those who do not specifically need accessible services.

For users who need accessible services, accessibility can be a decisive issue. Accessibility also means that as many people as possible can independently use online services without outside help. Accessibility is not just a good thing or a competitive advantage; it is a minimum requirement.

(In this context, online service refers to web pages such as on the ict.oulu.fi site, and services accessed through a browser, such as Peppi or Moodle.)


The requirements are based on the principle of equality

It is the duty of the education provider to promote equality. The lack of accessible online services must not become an obstacle to studying or working at the University or Oamk. Accessibility ensures more equal opportunities for all. The Non-Discrimination Act stipulates that higher education institutions, in their role as organisers of education and employers, must ensure the realisation of equality.

Watch the following short video by the Finnish Ministry of Justice on equality and non-discrimination (in Finnish). If you don’t understand Finnish, you can see this YouTube video by the UN on Universal Declaration of Human Rights instead.


The law obliges us to provide accessible online services.

The Act on the Provision of Digital Services (in Finnish) brings the EU Accessibility Directive into effect. The Act applies to universities and universities of applied sciences, among others. According to the Act, our online services must be accessible. In practice, this means that we must design, implement, procure, and develop online services that all members of our community can access (within the limits of their access rights).

Introduced into force gradually, the last requirements of the Act entered into force on 23 June 2021.


Online services must have an accessibility statement

An accessibility statement must be published separately for each online service. The statement must include the responsible organisation, the name and address of the service, and the date of preparation of the statement. The statement shall indicate any identified accessibility issues with justifications and a channel for accessibility feedback.

1. Accessibility assessment

Web accessibility assessment is the first step in preparing the statement. You can make the assessment yourself or have it made by an external expert. The assessor must be familiar with the accessibility requirements and capable of assessing how well the online service complies with the requirements.

2. Identified issues and their justifications, exceptions under the law

The statement must list any issues identified and provide justifications based on which the identified issues have not yet been rectified and indicate when they will be rectified. Any exceptions under the law must also be mentioned, as accessibility is not required for all content (e.g. old file archives). Still, they must be mentioned in the statement.

3. Accessibility feedback

The statement must also offer the opportunity to report accessibility issues. Contact must be responded to within 14 days. Any user who is not satisfied with the response or has not received a response at all can complain to AVI (Regional State Administrative Agency). AVI’s contact details must be stated in the appeal procedure instructions included in the statement.

Updating the statement should be included in annual maintenance routines

The accessibility statement must be kept up-to-date. Therefore, the task should be added to the annual maintenance schedule of each online service. The date of the update of the statement must be mentioned in the statement.

 

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