Take action on digital accessibility

Take action on digital accessibility

The deadline is fast approaching for the latest government regulations change in digital – make sure you understand what is required of you, and how to achieve it

stick man with circle aroundAccessibility is central to the latest regulations change in digital, which insists on compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. By September 2019, all web sites for public sector service providers need to meet AA standards and include an access statement. Initially this affects existing digital resources, but moving forward new digital developments will be required to meet the same standards.


What do the Accessibility Regulations 2018 mean?

Under the new regulations – snappily titled The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 – web sites and mobile applications must comply with the international WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard.

Initially, the focus is on web sites. There are two deadlines:

  • ‘New’ web sites: published on, or after, 23rd September 2018.
    The deadline for compliance is 23rd September 2019
     
  • ‘Existing’ web sites: published before 23rd September 2018.
    The deadline for compliance is 23rd September 2020

There is a later deadline for apps, which is 23rd June 2021.

 

Does this apply to my organisation?

All central and local government organisations must comply with these regulations.

Additionally, your organisation must comply with the regulations if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • it is publicly funded
  • it provides services that are essential to the public
  • it provides services for people with disabilities

The regulations are currently in place for public sector service providers only, but are considered likely to pave the way for standards beyond this group. So get ahead of the game, and set your digital accessibility standards high!


How do I comply?

In order to comply:

  1. Check which WCAG access standards your resource meets. You will need to run access validation testing on your web site or app.
     
  2. Create an access statement to be published as a web page, with a link from a prominent place on your web site (e.g. your footer). The statement should contain details of content / services that do not meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards, available alternative formats, and contact details for reporting accessibility issues.

What are my options?

You have two options for meeting the requirements of the new regulations:

  1. Run validation testing yourself, and write your access statement. Visit gov.uk for guidance about this.
     
  2. We can help!  
    The Government guidelines state that, as the service provider, “you’re legally responsible for your web site meeting accessibility standards, even if you’ve outsourced your web site to a supplier”. At Surface Impression we want to help you comply. We offer:

    • access validation testing to discover which WCAG standards your web site currently does / does not meet
    • an access statement tailored to your web site or app
    • the help you need to establish an access roadmap, should your web site fall short of AA standards

It’s a good thing!

Although a certain amount of hoop-jumping is involved in complying with the latest digital regulations changes, it is a great opportunity to embrace digital accessibility. At Surface Impression we are access-focused developers, and see first hand the significant benefits that accessibility brings in terms of audience engagement and greater access for all. 

 


Time is running out! For more information, or to start the process of making your site or app more accessible, get in touch with

Priscilla Deretti (priscilla@surfaceimpression.com / 01273 044131).