How well do supermarkets, transport companies and public sectors deliver accessibility support?

George RhodesHere, we check back in with George Rhodes who has just released his latest research into accessibility statements within the UK and beyond.

Back in October 2019 I shared research on the prevalence of accessibility statements across the UK Public Sector.

With only four months left before the September 23rd 2020 deadline for the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR), I have now released an updated version of the accessibility statements across the UK research.

With this latest version of the research I have tried to further branch out to better understand how a wider range of organisations deliver accessibility support to their website users.

The latest version now lists the accessibility information provided by:

  • Local Government
  • Universities
  • Police Forces
  • Fire and Rescue Services
  • Colleges
  • NHS organisations
  • Disability Assessment Centres
  • Utilities companies
  • Industry Regulators
  • Train companies
  • Bus companies
  • Supermarkets

I should clarify that I am not expecting utilities providers, train / bus companies or supermarkets to comply with PSBAR as they are private organisations and are not within the scope of the regulations.

However, I thought it was important during this unprecedented Covid-19 situation to look at some of these ‘essential’ businesses and benchmark their support against the standard of good practice that PSBAR requirements represent.

Meeting standards voluntarily

I go into detail in the research about why I think 'essential' companies in particular should be encouraged to voluntarily meet PSBAR standards in the support material they provide, mainly because many of them are ‘area monopolies’ in that a user now has little choice but to use that specific company due to geographical location.

For example, if as a disabled user I have to use public transport and I have significant issues with my local train company, there are no other trains that use those same tracks so I am stuck with a poor service that is essential to my movement. (I have more thoughts on essential services that I am writing an article for, which will be released in the near future.)

Compliance growth continues

Coming back to the discussion of accessibility statements, I have now logged 1,824 entries on the latest research. In my October update I praised the Police for their move to a centralised platform which enabled them to deliver compliant statements across many police forces. This trend has continued and we have seen compliance growth in all communities previously monitored.

See below for a graph to show compliance increases from October 2019 to May 2020:Graph showing increase in percentage of compliant accessibility statements from May 2019 to May 2020


The graph shows that Police are still far ahead now with 41.7% compliance, while Universities and Local Government are also seeing strong increases with 30.8% and 20.1% respectively.

Fire and Rescue services have seen a near double in their compliance numbers up to 11.3%. Sadly, the message is still to take effect with Colleges and NHS organisations, who are overall quite poor with the guidance provided.

On that note though, the accessibility information for the NHS Coronavirus information and app are good attempts and should be commended for including accessibility given the short turnaround time and pressures the developers were no doubt under.

There is still much work to do and only four months left to do it in. I cannot stress enough that considering there was a two year grace period, organisations that have not yet begun testing their websites and are not close to providing a compliant statement are leaving it till the absolute last minute in my opinion and will likely suffer for it.

Government Digital Service expectations

Finally a note to mention that the Government Digital Service (GDS) has tightened up their requirement expectations for statement compliance. I encourage everyone, even if you think your statement is compliant to double check against the GDS Sample Accessibility Statement and its list of legally required elements shown.

I will be doing another update over the September 2020 deadline period to monitor the expected compliance jump, and hopefully be further expanding the European aspect of my research that I have begun with a pilot look at Denmark which can also be found in my current research.

Learn more about accessibility now 

This latest round of research will also be highlighted in AbilityNet's upcoming free webinar on Wednesday 27 May, 11am: Register for the HE update and Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education webinar

Watch the panel session from TechShare Pro 2019 about Higher Education and Public Sector Accessibility, featuring George (download the transcript):

About George's research

  • All the latest updates for the research, maps and analysis can be found on the All Able website.
  • George's research among lots of other useful resources can also be found in the LexDis Digital Accessibility Toolkit which has been updated for GAAD 2020.
  • You can download previous versions of the datasets; version 1 and version 2 (from the All Able website) to further analyse the findings.
If you have any questions about achieving compliance with the new regulations, please contact the Government Digital Service (GDS) and AbilityNet also has resources for higher education and further education institutions.

Further resources 

AbilityNet has a range of resources and guidance to provide you with reassurance about the steps you can take to ensure compliance with new digital accessibility regulations for public sector organisations: