This site is “accessible” under the law of 11th February 2005 on digital accessibility. This law requires public websites from 2008 to respect certain technical criteria, particularly those that enable them to be consulted via various tools provided to people who are partially sighted: text to speech engines and adapted keyboards.

Article 47 of the law of 11th February 2005 (No. 2005-102) for “the equality of rights and opportunity, the participation and citizenship of disabled people” states: “Public online communication services by Government departments, regional councils and public establishments which depend on them must be accessible to people with disabilities".

Currently, the City of La Rochelle’s website respects the standards of the W3C in terms of accessibility to disabled people and compatibility with their software and hardware equipment.
Increased website accessibility must enable disabled people to access their content. For example, this may relate to blind people who use hardware technical assistance, such as a Braille range and software such as text to speech or screen reading software.

What does “accessibility” mean for websites?

According to Tim Berners-Lee, director of the W3C and inventor of the World Wide Web, Web accessibility means “Making the Web and its services available to all individuals, regardless of their hardware or technical status, their network infrastructure, their mother tongue, their culture, their location or their physical or mental abilities".

In particular, increased website accessibility must enable disabled people to access information, knowledge, education and culture. For example, this may relate to blind people who use hardware technical assistance, such as a Braille range and software such as text to speech or screen reading software to interpret the information content of the sites they visit; it may also relate to people who are temporarily disabled. To achieve these general and generous aims, the W3C created recommendations through the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) project in 1996. These recommendations are organised according to three points of view:

Content production tools must be able to be used by everyone; it then follows that they must follow specific guidelines. The content placed online itself must be accessible. To get the best from this accessible content, consultation tools (web browsers and other types of software likely to bring and return web content) must be usable by everyone.

The reference in accessibility terms

The first reference guide to be produced and the one which is still the standard, defining the technical accessibility criteria, is the one published by the W3C. This contains 3 levels: WAI-A, WAI-AA and WAI-AAA. Each level covers a set of criteria that Internet content providers must respect to the letter if they want to comply with one of these three levels.
In France, a reference guide equivalent to these three international levels was drafted by the DGME (General Department for Modernisation of the State), created by decree No. 2005-1792 of 30th December 2005, in partnership with the BrailleNet association. This French reference guide is based on a grid of 92 AccessiWeb criteria established from the WCAG 1.0 international recommendations of the Web Accessibility Initiative, by the BrailleNet association (the AccessiWeb criteria constitute an application of the WCAG 1.0 recommendations).

Since February 2004 the AccessiWeb criteria have constituted in France the accessibility rules for public service websites (central administrations, public and para-public organisations, local councils). In fact, the AccessiWeb criteria have been included in the “Accessibility reference guide for French administration Internet services” published by the ex-ADAE (Agency for the Development of Electronic Administration).

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