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;
As described in the legislative document, 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.
Since the last update, the Government Digital Service (GDS) have specified additional ‘legally required’ parts of an accessibility statement which now must be followed. You can see this in full in their sample accessibility statement which includes all requirements including those set by GDS based on the adopted EU model statement.
What a statement must now deliver is:
- Contact method for reporting accessibility issues
- Information on the Enforcement Procedure
- Specific sentence detailing the level of compliance (full, partial, not)
- Known issues and reasonable adjustments or other actions being taken to resolve the issues. This must be in the specific heading structure detailed below and you must include these headings:
- Non accessible content (h2)
- Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations (h3)
- Disproportionate burden (h3)
- Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations (h3)
- Specific sentence detailing when the statement was prepared.
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). You will also need to direct enforcement to the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland.
George has completed a number of pieces of research on the prevalence of accessibility statements across the UK. The latest of these from May 2020 covers 1824 entries from a wide variety of organisations.