Countdown to 2020 Public Sector Accessibility Regulations deadline - how prepared are you?

How prepared is your organisation to meet the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations requirements for 23 September 2020? 

With four months to go until this year's Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations deadline, on our webinar last week (HE update and the Accessibility Maturity Model) we asked attendees to answer the above question.

The majority responded that they are 'somewhat' prepared, with the next largest proportion of respondents noting they are 'not very' prepared. A small percentage of attendees are 'very confident' about meeting the requirements of the regulations, and another 6% report being 'not at all' prepared:

Graph showing results of webinar poll

  • Very prepared/confident - 6%
  • Somewhat prepared - a few things left to do -  49% 
  • Not prepared enough - we're worried about missing the deadline - 39%
  • Not at all prepared - we haven't yet started - 6%

Areas to address to meet regulations

To help prepare public sector institutions to meet the regulation requirements, on our recent webinar focused on higher and further education audiences, Helen Wickes of AbilityNet outlined the following points to focus on:

Remember, from 23 September 2020: 

  • All existing websites and updated internal sites must be accessible
  • Videos and audio published after this date must be accessible
  • Accessibility statement template needs to have been updated – check the section that has legal wording as these aspects must be followed
  • Focus on the basics – most common issues are related to keyboard navigation and colour contrast
  • As digital learning is now critical, ensure accessibility is considered at all opportunities 

Each website must have an updated and compliant accessibility statement with the relevant legal wording included. 

"As you can imagine we have been working with an increasing number of universities to help them move forward with this. One of the key themes that is emerging is that although people have concerns about ‘tough to crack’ accessibility challenges such as videos and PDFs, actually some basic areas are an issue for many sites and can be addressed quite simply – things like colour contrast and keyboard navigation are easy to test and address and some of the most common issues we are finding," says Helen.

"With the current crisis moving learning experiences online, human support get arounds have been swept away in the main and with online learning looking like it is going to be with us for some time, now is a great opportunity to focus on making that the most inclusive experience possible to attract and retain the widest range of students," Helen continues.

Do you need help with accessibility, particularly in the countdown to meeting the regulation requirements? Talk to our experts.

The public sector web accessibility applies to: 

  • Local Government
  • Police Forces
  • Fire and Rescue Services
  • NHS organisations
  • Universities and colleges

Image of sand timer to illustrate 'countdown'

Preparing staff for regulations

Although many who participated in the polls during the webinar report not feeling as prepared as they'd like to meet the regulations, the majority of respondents (63%) noted that teaching staff at their institution are engaging 'really well' with efforts to improve digital accessibility in time for the deadline: 

Graph showing poll results for webinar

  • Really well - after an effective internal communications campaign - 63%
  • Quite well - most staff are engaged - 16%
  • Fairly well - there are pockets of both resistance and enthusiasm - 1%
  • Reluctantly - change is not very welcome - 15%
  • Not at all well - 5%

On the webinar we also introduced the Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education that AbilityNet and McNaught Consultancy have developed based on Alistair McNaught's existing model. Alistair spoke with Ben Watson from the University of Kent about its OPERA project, based on the model’s principles. The OPERA project helped the university to look at accessibility in a more holistic way, which then led to better staff engagement with meeting accessibility goals, and a Times Higher Education (THE) award.

Find out more about the Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education and download it.

We also invite you to chat with AbilityNet about how we can guide your organisation through the Model's steps.

Access the free webinar playback

You can watch the webinar playback below, and download the transcript [Word doc]. You can also access the slides via the webinar page

Additional questions and answers from the webinar

Although our expert panel answered many of the questions posed on the live webinar, there were a few questions we ran out of time to address within the session. Here, we answer the remaining questions:

  1. We provide further education short distance learning courses through a third party platform. The content is not accessible - what should our distance learning team do about this?
    The accessibility shortcomings would need to be highlighted in your accessibility statement and a link given for students to contact the relevant person if they need an alternative format.
  2. Where are people putting the accessibility statement on their virtual learning environment (VLE) - ours only offers the oppourtunity to put in on the front page. For compliance I guess it should be on every page?
    Yes, it should be available from every page - I encourage higher education institutions to produce course level templates (highly adapted so they are pragmatic and achievable) and these link to the main VLE statement as well as describing the tutor's accessibility choices.
  3. What is Ben Watson's role within the University of Kent and are you part of the disability services team? Where was this work led from?
    I am in the Student Support and Wellbeing team, but am very clear that this is about partnership building and catalysing others to play their part in supporting all students equally. More and more I am finding that people are making their own decisions and finding great ways to make their content more accessible - I was recently involved with colleagues in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) who had identified a really nice way to make documents more accessible using html format.


Further resources:


Blog: George Rhodes - How well do supermarkets, transport companies and public sectors deliver accessibility support?

Blog: Is your public sector website prepared for new accessibility regulations?

Blog: Do you comply with the new accessibility regulations? (Sep 2019)

Webinar playback (Feb 2020): Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations: Procurement - checking external products are accessible