New regulations have come into force which mean that from next year, every new public sector website and mobile app will need to meet certain accessibility standards and publish a statement saying they have been met, or if not, why not and what is planned to fix it. Existing websites will have until 2020 to comply.
The aim is to improve public sector websites and mobile apps in the area of accessibility for all users, especially those with disabilities. This started life as an EU regulation two years ago and has now bee issued as a UK Statutory Instrument effect from 23 September 2018.
(Statutory Instruments do not need to go through parliament for approval but become UK law through existing legislation. The penalties and recourse to law for this is covered by the Equalities Act)
Dates for compliance
|New public sector websites (published after 22 September 2018)||22 September 2019|
|All other public sector websites||22 September 2020|
|Public sector mobile applications||22 June 2021|
There are 2 main requirements:
- meet accessibility standards - this means making your website ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’ for all users – make sure it meets WCAG 2.1 AA (international standard) or its European equivalent, EN301 549
- publish an accessibility statement - this must be based on a template statement that will be provided sometime in December 2018 by GDS.
The GDS blog helps by describing the legislation as requiring you (must) make your website or mobile app more accessible by making it ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’.
The detailed guidance from Government Digital Services is clear and very helpful.
They also advise "where possible, use web technologies rather than native mobile apps - because it’s easier to update web technologies"
Common accessibility problems include websites that can’t be navigated using a keyboard, inaccessible PDF forms that can’t be read out on screen readers, and poor colour contrast that makes text difficult to read, especially for partially sighted people.
GDS have also issued a series of guidance posters which are very helpful.
Or just give us a call. We were fortunate to have a couple of our team helping the consultation process with GDS.