The accessibility of websites plays a crucial role in ensuring equal access to information and services for all individuals, including disabled people. It is not just about ‘doing the right thing’, it is a legal requirement.
Website Accessibility and the Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 is the legal foundation in the UK designed to ensure equal access to goods, services, and information. Websites are included within the legislation. Organisations must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled people. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties, reaching up to 4% of worldwide turnover.
Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018
The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (PSBAR) came into effect on September 23, 2018. It applies to public sector organisations. These regulations require public sector websites, including government agencies, educational institutions, and local authorities, to meet certain accessibility standards. Public sector websites should aim for at least Level AA conformance with WCAG guidelines and provide an accessibility statement to communicate their compliance level.
To ensure compliance with accessibility standards, organisations should conduct regular accessibility checks, engage in user testing with disabled people, and make necessary improvements to address any identified barriers. It is advisable to maintain an accessibility statement on the website, which outlines the organisation’s commitment to accessibility, known limitations, and contact information for reporting issues.
How to ensure compliance with your legal requirements
ISO 30071-1 international information technology standard
The ISO 30071-1 is international information technology standard was published in 2019. It contains good practice guidelines and advice that will be useful to all organisations seeking to make their content accessible. Part 1 is about embedding good accessibility practice into the values of a company – to ensure the ICT products and services they design are accessible.
The development of the ISO 30071-1 standard was lead by Johnathan Hassell who wrote the following:
“It provides a framework around standards like WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 to help integrate accessibility within organisations and into software development lifecycles.”
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1
To achieve accessibility standards, organisations can adhere to the internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). They provide a framework for web developers and designers to create websites accessible to all, including disabled people.
In conclusion: Website Accessibility and Your Legal Obligations in the UK
Website accessibility is not just a matter of social responsibility, it is a legal obligation. By adhering to the Equality Act 2010, and relevant legislation such as the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations organisations you can ensure equal access to your websites and services for disabled people. Taking accessibility seriously means you not only to avoid potential penalties but also make your content more accessible and enhance the user experience for all visitors to your websites.
Photo by DPP Law.