Review of the Website of Income Tax Department, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India

27 Apr

Review of the Website of Income Tax Department, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India

I have noticed that Income Tax India‘s Website underwent a re-design and decided to check if the website has met with Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) requirements. Unfortunately, it has not meet several check points of the compliance matrix of GIGW. since every citizen including those with disabilities and tax payers uses this website and Income Tax Department is one such department that generates revenue through citizens, it must be accessible to all users. Below are findings from my review.

Page titles are not descriptive; All pages displays same title as “National Website of the Income Tax Department of India”; instead, it should show the title that reflects to the page content, for instance, Home page should have “Home – Income Tax Department, Government of India” and About Us should have “About Us – Income Tax Department – Government of India”

There is no link to the National Portal of India. GIGW requires all government portals to prominently display the link to the National Portal of India (http://india.gov.in).

No policies such as privacy policy, copy right policy present on the page. External websites are not indicated to differentiate between government and non-government websites; for instance, at the bottom of the page, there is a link to the site developers Quintegra Solutions and same should have an image associated with that indicates Quintegra is an external website. Also, there are several links that opens in a new window and same is not informed to the user; for instance the e-File link given in a multimedia slider.

Clicking on several links on the right rail, does not lead to any new page and focus remains on the home page itself. It cannot be considered as the website is still undergoing changes, since the site nowhere displays the same or it is in beta version.

The website does have a link to “terms of use” but by activating the same, a small window gets opened with disclaimer information.

Although the form names are given in a separate column, links to download a form is given just with the Form no and it would not be descriptive for assistive technology users such as those using the screen reader. Screen readers have a functionality to view all the links in a dialog box and in such a scenario, they only get to know the form numbers and not the description of the form unless they move the focus into the table.

All the circulars and notifications are listed with their file numbers but no title of the circular or notification is mentioned. Also, many of them do not have validate date mentioned.

There is no mechanism in place to archive the old tenders.

Though, there is an image link to “Contact Us”, the image do not have text alternate and contact page do not have contact information of important personnel and functions.

There is no feedback form nor there is any help section in the website. There are several documents including complete tender information is given in PDF format; but the file format, size and source to download necessary reader is not available. Content is not packaged in a way that is easy to navigate; several pages opens in a new window and there is no mechanism to revert back to the home page; for instance, all links under Tax laws and rules menu opens in a new window.

Information about page last updated is not made available. There is no archival policy on the website; though an archival section is present. No acronyms or expansion to words like PAN, TAN etc, are provided on the website. There are several links given under the sub menus in the navigation; however, the sub menus are not accessible via keyboard, hence those links won’t be accessible to all users from the home page.
Most of the layout is controlled with table mark up and information gets cluttered when styles are disabled. Government ownership information “Income Tax department, Department of revenue, Ministry of Finance, government of India” is given in the form of image with no text alternative. The same information would not be available to screen reader users, those who rely on text browsers or who intentionally turn off the images. Also, the same information would not be available for search engines.
Alt attributes are not provided for images; thre are multimedia slide shows on the web site but no mechanism is provided to control them by user; means there is no “pause, stop” buttons. Though there are no links that lead to a page “under construction”, there are several links frokm home page that leads no where and focus remains on the home page itself. There is no “Skip to main content” or “Skip navigation” link is provided there is no mechanism for user to bypass the repeated blocks of content like navigation.

Website does have a Search box but not functioning. By giving an input in the search edit field and clicking on Search button does nothing and focus remains on the same page. CSS is not used across the website and most of the page layout is styled using table mark-up. Website is not quite usable when scripts are turned off. Associated labels are not provided for input fields. There are several links with screen text ‘Read more” and that is not descriptive.

These are some of the high level findings and not the thorough report. A thorough report can be generated on request and on a mutual benefit.

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BySrinivasu Chakravarthula

I am an enthusiast of accessibility and classical music.

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