Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites in danger?

Just over two years ago Verva (Swedish Administrative Development Agency) published the current version of the Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites.

As I mentioned in Guidelines for Swedish public sector websites updated, I took part in creating those guidelines. Because of that I may be a bit biased, but I think they are still quite relevant. Nothing is perfect, of course – the guidelines are more than two years old so there are certainly areas that could be improved and updated.

Having this set of guidelines to refer people to has definitely helped make plenty of Swedish public sector websites more accessible than they would have been if the guidelines had not existed. But now the future of these guidelines is uncertain.

It was made public earlier this year that Verva will be closed down by the end of 2008, and that other government agencies would take over parts of Verva’s activities. Unfortunately there is still no information available on what will happen to the Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites.

According to a newsletter (in Swedish) that was published on 8 December, Verva’s website, including the guidelines, will be taken offline on 31 December.

I think it is very unfortunate that there is no clear information available on what will happen to the guidelines after that. Without a national agency behind the guidelines there is a substantial risk that they will be regarded as less relevant and ignored to an even greater extent. That, in turn, is likely to make the accessibility and usability of Swedish public sector websites suffer.

If you happen to have any insight into or influence on this matter, please urge whoever is in charge to appoint an authority that will host and continue to develop the Swedish National Guidelines for Public Sector Websites after 31 December 2008.

Until that happens – if it does – the content of the guidelines are available on eutveckling.se. The site is a personal initiative by Peter Krantz, author of the Fangs Firefox extension and one of the guideline authors, who also intends to keep the guidelines up-to-date and encourages reader participation.

Excellent initiative, Peter!

Posted on December 12, 2008 in Accessibility, Usability, Web Standards

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