Part 2 of The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 sets out that public sector websites and mobile applications must meet the accessibility requirements and publish an accessibility statement by a set date.
“Accessibility statement” means a detailed, comprehensive and clear statement produced by a public sector body on the compliance of its website or mobile application with these Regulations;
The accessibility statement must include—
- an explanation of those parts of the content that are not accessible and the reasons why;
- where appropriate, a description of any accessible alternatives provided;
- a description of, and a link to, a contact form which enables a person to—
- a link to the enforcement procedure set out in Part 5 of these Regulations to which recourse may be had in the event of an unsatisfactory response to the notification or the request.
Government Digital Service Guidance
The Government Digital Service (GDS) who will be assessing whether an accessibility statement meets requirements provided guidance on creating an accessibility statement in the form of a sample statement for a fictional website. Kent County Council and the University of Kent have also contributed to this guidance.
If you are in England, Scotland or Wales, the regulations that you need to mention in your statement are the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018, and possibly the Equality Act 2010. These are the relevant pieces of legislation for Accessibility Statement requirements and information on the enforcement procedure through the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If you are in Northern Ireland you still need to mention the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations but may want to mention the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which is still an active piece of legislation in Northern Ireland. (It was repealed and superseded by the Equality Act 2010 in England Scotland and Wales).
The Kent example
In order to comprehensively address the points within the regulation and provide something that is useful to users, the University of Kent and Kent County Council delivered a slightly different format of accessibility statement to the GDS sample guidance. You can see their published statements below:
They split their statements into the three sections; a Plain English version (the main statement), a technical statement and a list of their known accessibility issues. Below are explanations of each element along with links to their templates.
Plain English Statement – The Plain English statement acts as the main accessibility statement on the Kent websites. They wanted their main statement to be very user focussed and chose to include content that will help users get the best out of their websites and help in navigating. In this statement they also include information on how users can get in touch with them about accessibility issues, make a complaint and escalate it through the enforcement procedure. Some sections adopt the wording of the GDS sample where this is a core obligation but the definite design ethos of their statement is to support all users to get the most from their use of their content.
Technical Statement – The technical statement covers more in depth information about the way in which they conduct their audits and measure compliance. They felt that this wasn’t information that would be useful to users who are just looking for accessibility assistance in using their website. This information is important to publish and some of the wording is required for legal reasons. If anyone wanted information on their compliance process, this would be the statement that provides the key overview information.
Known Issues Page – They are required to publish accessibility issues with the website that have already been found, and any alternate routes for users with access needs. They felt that it would be easier to understand for users if they separated out the known issues list from the rest of the statement, and also easier for their various website owners to use, as they can direct to the main accessibility statements if required, and update their specific known issues lists independently.
Example statement for Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE):
When Kent developed their statement they had it looked at by various groups to ensure that it was delivering on what was expected. It was checked by legal officers, Plain English experts, individuals with access needs and peers within their wider accessibility community who helped them refine their approach to ensure that it would best meet user needs.
All of the statements are living documents that they expect to evolve as they further develop their expertise, partnerships and audit processes.
Statements across the UK
We were interested in looking at how statements were being delivered across the UK Public Sector. You can read more about the ongoing research below: