Accessibility has never been so important, it’s also a requirement and for certain organisations, the law.
The September 2020 deadline for the public sector in the UK is not changing. Upcoming regulations mean all public sector organisations have a legal obligation to make sure its websites and apps meet accessibility standards. On September 23rd 2020, all public sector websites, new or existing, must be compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. Apps must meet the regulatory requirements by 23rd June 2021. This aims to ensure all public sector websites are accessible to all users, regardless of any disabilities, such as impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, deafness or impaired hearing.
“I'm grappling with my Accessibility Statement, and finding the Jadu template for it really useful. The template guides you through the process with clear headings and guidance about what information needs to go in each section.” - Kathryn Halton, Web Co-Ordinator, Pendle Borough Council
What you need to do
There are 2 main requirements to meet this deadline:
- Meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards, this means making your website ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’ for all users
- Publish an accessibility statement, in line with the GDS (Government Digital Service) format
What is an accessibility statement?
Your accessibility statement should make clear the level of accessibility across the website and outline any areas where there may be barriers, how to request alternative routes and who to contact about any issues. The accessibility statement is often the first thing a disabled person will look for when they visit your website, to make sure it is accessible for them, so it is important to highlight where they may struggle to use your site.
Writing your statement
Many UK public sector organisations already publish accessibility information on their website. The new accessibility regulations mean this information will have to be presented in a consistent way and titled an accessibility statement. It’s important to remember that people accessing the website may not be accessibility experts, so your statement should be written in plain English.
Your accessibility statement should:
- List any inaccessible areas of the website or app
- Provide details on who to contact to report accessibility issues
- Show how users can get alternatives to content that is not accessible
- Provide information on the enforcement procedure
- Follow a consistent format, in line with GDS requirements
- Be published in a fully accessible format
It is also good practice to link to your statement from every page on your website, in the footer for example.
What you need to do
Jadu has put together a guide based on the GDS (Government Digital Service) sample accessibility statement, along with our sample statement to help you give your users an accessible experience and ensure you meet the guidelines.
You will need to complete a full audit of your website to know where your accessibility issues lie, but you do not need to have completed the fixes before uploading your accessibility statement. You can complete the audit yourself, we can audit your site for you, or you can use a third party. Our recommended third parties are Shaw Trust or Ability Net.