Developing a robust website can be a big undertaking for agencies because of the resources needed to plan, build, and maintain a site. However, this investment is necessary because websites are now a primary - if not the primary - channel citizens use to interact with government.
Before developing a website, there are a few key state laws and standards that need to be considered.
Agencies have a number of options when choosing who they want to develop their site.
Web accessibility broadly refers to the ability of people with disabilities to use websites and related electronic resources, such as images, videos, and documents. The Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 is the primary law applicable to state and local government. Title II of the act requires that “each service, program, or activity… is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.” It does not go on to set specific criteria by which an electronic resource, such as a PDF or website, is to be deemed accessible.
Agencies should comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA. This aligns with North Dakota’s Web Development Best Practices, as set by by North Dakota's Enterprise Architecture program, which sets state standards and best practices.
Accessibility requires effort on the part of website developers, website content administers, and forms designers. During the procurement process, agencies should clearly define which accessibility criteria they want a vendor to develop to. This would typically be WCAG 2.1 Level AA. Federal programs must also adhere to Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which does specify sixteen rules for web-based content. In general, WCAG 2.1 Level AA is more comprehensive than current Section 508 requirements, meaning that if you are WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliant, you are also likely Section 508 compliant.
Note that the above information is designed to provide high-level guidance. Consult with your legal council and application/website developers to clarify the requirements for your projects.
The Enterprise Citizen Experience (Cx) Service provides agencies with access to communication resources and training. Also part of this service is managing the official State of North Dakota web portal and State Website Platform.