New regulations mean that public sector websites and mobile apps will soon have a legal duty to meet accessibility requirements. You’ll need to:
- carry out an evaluation of how accessible your websites and mobile apps are
- fix accessibility problems (when you’re required to do so)
- publish a statement saying what’s accessible, what’s not – and why
You’ll need to do this by 23 September 2019 for newer websites (those published later than 22 September 2018). There are later deadlines for older websites and mobile apps.
We’ve blogged about this a few times over the past months; here’s the latest on what’s happening.
Updated guidance on meeting accessibility requirements
We’ve updated the guidance on making your public sector website or app accessible.
- split the information that was there into two guides – one that’s focused on understanding your obligations and one that’s focused on the practicalities of making a plan to identify and fix accessibility problems
- added more detail on evaluating your website or app so you can publish an accessibility statement saying how accessible it is
And we’ve published a sample accessibility statement you can use to help you write your own. Thanks to colleagues at the AbilityNet, JISC, Nomensa, the University of Kent and others for their help with this.
Monitoring and enforcement
We’ve had some questions about how compliance will be monitored and how the regulations will be enforced.
A central monitoring team at GDS will assess a sample of public sector websites and apps. The aim of monitoring is to help and encourage the public sector to make timely improvements to websites and apps – making them accessible to as many people as possible and avoiding the need for enforcement.
The sample will be chosen based on a number of factors, including:
- how many people risk being excluded
- where there are known or suspected problems (for example, because there have been complaints)
If the monitoring team discovers accessibility problems with a website or app in the sample, they will notify the website or app owner and signpost them to support to help resolve the problems.
The monitoring team will be overseen by the Cabinet Office and supported by an independent panel of stakeholders.
Assuring compliance with the regulations will, in part, fall within the existing enforcement powers of the Equality Advisory Service, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
GDS – acting on behalf of the Minister for the Cabinet Office – will assess whether accessibility statements meet legal requirements.
The Equalities Advisory Support Service provides individuals with information about discrimination and their rights as users of public services.
We’ll publish further information on monitoring and enforcement processes in the future.
Most public sector organisations will want to consider getting help from an external accessibility expert to evaluate their websites and apps. But for organisations that genuinely can’t afford to do that, we’re working on a simple approach to self-evaluation. We will aim to publish this soon.