Accessibility of Public Administration Web sites for Citizens with Special Needs.
The Information Society should contribute towards the improvement of the quality of life and the welfare of all citizens. This means that everyone should not only be eligible to access its instruments - particularly the new information technologies - but that everyone should be granted the effective possibility of using them.
Access to the benefits of the Information Society should therefore be assured without discrimination or exclusions. Thus it is necessary to consider the individual characteristics and requirements of citizens with special needs.
Due regard to citizens with special needs is not dictated by mere considerations of solidarity; rather, it stems from a particular conception of society, one whereby it is understood that each and every citizen is entitled to participate in accordance with his or her personal characteristics.
Indeed, the involvement and effective access of citizens with special needs to the Information Society is all the more important insofar as its instruments are potential factors of social inclusion.
It is essential, therefore to ensure that the information made available by Public Administration via the Internet is capable of being clearly understood and easily obtained by citizens with special needs. Accordingly, it is stipulated that appropriate technical solutions be adopted to achieve this goal.
These measures are included in the implementation plan for the National Initiative for Citizens with Special Needs in the Information Society, established by Resolution no. 96/99 of The Council of Ministers. The measures also pursue the Recommendation and Resolution of the Parliamentary Commission for Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees regarding the Accessibility Petition, approved on the 30th of June, 1999, which called for the adoption of appropriate measures to guarantee to all citizens with special needs full accessibility to information made available on the Internet.
Thus, in accordance with the terms of the paragraph g) of Article 199 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers rules that:
1.1. The methods chosen for organizing and presenting the information made available on the Internet by General Directorates and similar agencies, departments or services, as well as that rendered available by any public corporation must permit or facilitate access thereto to all citizens with special needs.
1.2 The accessibility referred to in article 1.1 above shall apply, as a minimum requirement, to all information relevant to the full understanding of the contents and for the search of same.
To achieve the goals referred to in the previous article, the organizations mentioned therein must prepare both the written contents and the layout of their Internet pages so as to ensure that:
a) Reading can be performed without resorting to sight, precision movements, simultaneous actions or pointing devices, namely mouses.
b) Information retrieval and searching can be performed via auditory, visual or tactile interfaces.
The web sites of the organizations covered by this Legislative Act, when in compliance with the accessibility requirements established herein, must contain indication to this effect in the form of a clearly-recognizable symbol.
4.1 The web sites of the organizations mentioned in article 1 must be adapted in accordance with the terms of this Legislative Act. A progress report on its implementation must be submited to the Minister to which the organizations referred to in article 1 report within a period not exceeding one year from the date of enforcement.
4.2 Web sites created after the date on which the present Legislative Act takes effect must be immediately compliant with accessibility requirements.
The Minister for Science and Technology shall monitor and evaluate the enforcement of this Legislative Act, and shall inform the Government regularly of the progress of its application.
The Presidency of Council of Ministers, 29 July of 1999. - The Prime Minister, in exercise, Jaime José Matos da Gama.
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Programa ACESSO da UMIC - Agência para a Sociedade do Conhecimento, I.P.