On 1 January 2021, UNDP launched its new Digital, Inclusive, Accessible: Support to Digitalisation of State Services in Ukraine (DIA Support) Project. The project is made possible due to support of the Government of Sweden and is carried out in close collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine (MDT) and other government stakeholders.
The project builds on extensive UNDP experience in two areas: administrative service reform and reengineering and digitalising public administration processes with broad citizen and expert engagement. As part of the project, UNDP will help the government partners – primarily MDT – select several service clusters in use by citizens representing vulnerable groups. Services will be packaged to accommodate everyday needs and transposed into a fully digital format. Alternatively, sections of the service business-process will be digitally transformed.
The Government will partner with UNDP to ensure that authorities (civil servants) and the Parliament gain a deeper understanding of the ‘Human Rights Based Approach’ in the context of e-services, in particular by working more closely with the Secretariat of the Human Rights Commissioner and national human rights institutions of other countries. The project will also actively engage the population (citizen-clients) to build digital literacy, cyber hygiene, and nurture confidence in new solutions.
At the global level, the digitalisation of customer-oriented services and the development of mobile technologies that involve citizens in creating new solutions while leaving no one behind meet several Sustainable Development Goals at once. The creation of digital services – particularly mobile-based – contributes to an improvement in the quality of public administration and a reduction in corruption.
This, in turn, promotes the development of effective, accountable and inclusive public institutions capable of responding to the needs of women and men belonging to different groups, in line with Goal 16 to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.’ For example, when applied in the access to justice sector, such services contribute to supporting the rule of law, so that no citizen is left behind.
Goal 9 to ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation’ aims to improve access to information and communication technologies. In the Ukrainian context, this means expanding access to digital/mobile-based services outside large cities and in localities that have not yet benefitted from the latest generation of telecommunications technologies (at least 3G Internet).
Another aspect related to creating more accessible and inclusive electronic or mobile services is in line with Goal 4 to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’
The implementation of digital solutions will also contribute to Goal 5 to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Gender mainstreaming can positively impact equal opportunities of women and men, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ‘Your State in Your Smartphone’ initiative launched in Ukraine, will only succeed if appealing and accessible civic digital education is developed and widely implemented to help close digital gaps in knowledge and skills, and bridge the digital divide between generations and groups of Ukrainians with different social backgrounds.
One of most important aspects of the DIA Support Project is to enhance accessibility of digital solutions through design of relevant IT instruments and creation of relevant regulatory tools that would guide state entities and their contractors / developers for production of equitable, genuinely inclusive eService tools according to the principles of universal design. One of the foundational standards for digital content accessibility is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It was developed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.
WCAG provisions are a step-by-step checklist to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities and, by extension, more useable for all types of clients in general. The term “web content” generally refers to the information in a web page or web application, including text, images, and sounds, as well as machine-readable code or mark-up that define the structure of a given web page and the way it will be presented to requesting users. Multiple governments have adopted WCAG as a mandatory standard and benchmark for state-sponsored and municipal online resources.
Ukraine adopted the WCAG 2.0 (currently version 2.1 is available) in 2019, as part of amendments Regulation of Cabinet of Ministers No 3 from 4 January 2002 as well as state standard DSTU ISO/IEC 40500:2015 (based on ISO/IEC 40500 standard).
However, ISO/IEC 40500 standard was never translated to Ukrainian officially, and was never properly communicated with government agencies, state enterprises, that are responsible for development and modernisation of government online-resources, NGOs and public. This creates issues with effective awareness-building and capacity-development, limits the effect and usability of initiatives in sphere of digital accessibility.
The newer version of WCAG (the current version 2.1) can’t be adopted in Ukraine without first developing the full official text of the new DSTU (State Standard of Ukraine). The Ukrainian standard ought to be mirroring the European standard EN 301 549 V3.2.1 (2021-03), which is recognized by the three European Standardization Organizations (ESOs): CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. The relevant European standard was produced by numerous stakeholders in a participatory, transparent, consensus-based manner.
To bring Ukraine closer to European standards of web-content accessibility and support approximation of regulations in the area of state standards, UNDP seeks services of a highly qualified Consultant to develop the full text of the relevant DSTU draft based on EN 301 549 V3.2.1 (2021-03) and WCAG 2.1. The Consultant is also expected to assist relevant Ukrainian standardization authorities with information necessary for proper consideration and adoption of the standard into the Ukrainian regulatory field, as well as provide facilitation with any activities related of adoption of DSTU in question.
 See, for instance: https://ud.org.ua/
 Please see for more details: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/
 Please see the list of governments that have adopted WCAG globally: https://www.w3.org/WAI/policies/
 Please see: https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_en/301500_301599/301549/03.02.01_60/en_301549v030201p.pdf