Do you comply with the new accessibility regulations?

On the day the new The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 came into force in the UK, AbilityNet's Abi James spoke at London's Accessibility Meet Up in Sainsbury's Head Office in Holborn about how to comply with the new digital accessibility regulations for the UK public sector.

The new rules apply to any publicly-funded body, which includes Higher and Further Education, local authorities and many other organisations. The first key date for compliance is 23 September 2019, and although many organisations are still not up to speed Abi was positive about how the new regulations will impact on the needs of disabled people. 

"It's a great opportunity to communicate to your users about how you can support their needs" said Abi, who put the new requirements in context by providing a potted history of accessibility laws that have been passed in the UK and abroad since the early 1990s.

What to include in your Accessibility Statement

Timeline for implementing regulations slide from presentation: 23 Sep 2019 deadline for websites published/revised from 23 Sep 2018.23 Sep 2020 deadline for those before 23 Sep 2018, and 23 June 2021 for mobile appsAbi explained some of the key dates to remember for compliance (our blog about the regulations also includes a timeline), and shared what a public sector website's Accessibility Statement must include:

  • A user-focused description of what aspects of your website are accessible and what aren't 
  • Statement of compliance - outlining what is fully, partially or not compliant
  • Which parts of your service do not meet accessibility standards, and why
  • Contact information for users to report accessibility problems with your site
  • Information on how the regulations are monitored, and how to escalate issues to the monitoring body.

See's sample accessibility statement.

Abi noted that far from being an inconvenience, the regulations, and the Accessibility Statement itself, offer organisations a chance to be transparent about areas of their websites that require development to become accessible.

What will happen next?

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is required to monitor public service websites to ensure compliances. It will sample a proportion of sites each year from different types of organisations, and conduct simplified, possibly automated monitoring of 2000 sites, per year, and more in-depth monitoring of approximately 130 sites per year.

Ultimately, says Abi, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for actioning non-compliance.

Missed the event?

You can download Abi's slides from SlideShare, or download a zip file directly from our website. The slides include further information about third party content, and exemptions to the new regulations.

Further information about HE and FE accessibility

AbilityNet has a range of resources and guidance to help to comply with the new regulations: