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Accessibility statement on a laptop screen

Web and mobile app accessibility involves making sure that it can be utilised by the widest potential range of users.

Those with the following prefixes:

  • Inability to see clearly
  • Challenges with one's motor skills
  • Limitations of cognition or difficulties with learning
  • Impairment in hearing or deafness
  • A long-term sickness, impairment, or handicap affects at least one in five persons in the United Kingdom
  • Many more suffer from a short-term injury.

It's not enough to just post something online to make them accessible. It implies keeping your information and design simple enough that most people can use it without having to adjust it, while enabling those that do.

For example, a screen reader, braille display, or screen magnifier may be used by someone with vision impairments to navigate a website and 'read aloud' the text. Alternatively, a customised mouse, voice recognition software, or an on-screen keyboard emulation might be used by someone with motor impairments.

Accessibility of your public sector website or mobile app

Users of government websites and mobile apps may have no option but to use them, thus it is imperative that they operate for everyone. Those who are most in need of these services are also the ones who have the most difficulty utilising them.

Websites that are more accessible tend to perform better for everyone. Search engines prefer them since they are quicker and easier to utilise.

The majority of public sector websites and mobile applications do not fulfil the accessibility standards set by the government. 4/10 local council homepages failed accessibility tests in a research by the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernization, for example.

Mobile-unfriendly or keyboard-unfriendly websites; PDF forms that can't be read by screen readers; and low colour contrast that makes text difficult to read - especially for those who are blind - are all examples of common concerns.

If your public sector website or mobile app fails to fulfil accessibility standards, you might be breaching the law.

Complying with the applicable accessibility standards

On the 23rd of September 2018, the laws governing public sector accessibility went into effect. You must make your website or mobile app "perceivable, operational, comprehensible and robust" in order to make it more accessible. An accessibility statement is a must for any website.

Those regulations are called the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 by the full name of the regulations.

Under the Equality Act 2010, you have a duty to make your workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland).

People may request information in an alternate format, such as big print or an audio recording for example. In order to establish whether or not an adjustment is considered "reasonable," many variables must be considered.

Accessibility rules apply to both internal and external websites. If you work in the public sector, you can access these internal websites.

Apps produced for use by the general public are subject to accessibility rules. These rules apply to the public sector's use of customised apps, such as their choice of functionality and branding.

The laws do not apply to mobile apps for certain groups of people, such as employees or students.

However, there may be legitimate legal grounds for not fulfilling accessibility requirements - so long as they satisfy the worldwide WCAG 2.1 AA level

An accessibility statement should be published on your website or mobile app that specifies how accessible it is. It's important to ask your team to assess how far your website or mobile app passes WCAG 2.0, and if there are any issues. Next, devise a strategy for addressing the issues identified. Your website's development team should follow the guidelines in this document when creating an accessibility declaration.

Accessibility should be restored to all official government websites and mobile applications at this time.

If you work in the public sector, you need to make your intranet or extranet accessible. When they are upgraded, older intranets and extranets (published before to September 23, 2019) must be made available.

So... Who does it apply to?

Unless specifically exempted, all public sector organisations must comply with the 2018 criteria.

The following are examples of government-sponsored organisations:

  • Non-profits and other non-governmental organisations in addition to government agencies
  • When you don't have to adhere to accessibility rules.
  • Under the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, all UK service providers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adaptations (in Northern Ireland).

Exceptions to the accessibility standards include:

Unless they are primarily supported by public funds and provide services that are necessary to the public or are directed towards individuals with disabilities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as charities should be avoided.

Part of the accessibility rules do not apply to the following organisations:

Public-sector television and radio stations in addition to the material necessary for their services, such as a form that allows you to specify your school lunch choices
Websites and mobile apps of partially exempt organisations would be required to provide an accessibility statement.

If you're unsure if the new accessibility regulations apply to you, consult with your legal advisor (if you have one).

When the burden of complying with accessibility standards may be excessive.

Some organisations are not exempt from accessibility requirements, although they may not have to satisfy all of them. This is the situation if an organisation cannot fairly cope with the impact of completely achieving the criteria. This is referred to as a 'disproportionate load' under the accessibility requirements.

Think about disproportionate load in the perspective of what is fair to accomplish at this time. If your situation changes, you'll have to reevaluate whether or not anything is still an undue strain.

You must do an evaluation if you wish to claim that making anything accessible constitutes an undue burden. You consider the following factors while making your judgement:

  • The additional work required to make these resources easily accessible to your company
  • Make them available to a broader range of people

To help you with your evaluation, consider the following points:

  • The size and resources of your company
  • Your focus on individuals with disabilities (e.g., do you provide services for them?)
  • Cost-benefit analysis of making your products and services more accessible.
  • If you made your website more accessible, how many people with disabilities would benefit?

You may decide that the costs of making certain items accessible outweigh the advantages. As a result, it would be legitimate for you to argue that it's impractical for you to make those items available.

It's not fair to say that making things accessible is a disproportionate burden since you haven't prioritised it because you don't have the time or skills to do so.

As an illustration, consider the following:

Having to satisfy all the standards may be deemed an unreasonable hardship if it consumes the majority of your annual budget, renders you unable to perform your other duties, and does not materially improve the situation for people with disabilities.

The following is an example...

Many folks with vision problems might benefit from a low-cost code modification that increases colour contrast on your website or app. You may not be able to make the case that altering this is an undue hardship.

Disproportionate burden is less likely to be claimed for services that:

  • Enable individuals to take part in society, such as "register to vote" or "get a job," that are geared at handicapped persons.
  • A lot of the time, you'll have to figure out what you can change right now and what you can address in the future.

You'll need to include this information in your accessibility statement if you believe that correcting something would be an excessive burden.

If you're working with a web team, you may use this information to organise and prioritise the issues you'll address.

The Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (in Northern Ireland) require you to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people when they are required - for example, by providing information they need in another, more accessible format - even if you are exempt from the accessibility regulations or judge that complying with them would be a disproportionate burden.

Fixing things you don't need to

The following categories of material are excluded from the accessibility standards, thus your team does not need to alter them:

  • Released before September 23, 2020, pre-recorded audio or video
  • Historical recordings, such as digitised manuscripts, as well as live performances

For example, a form that allows you to request school meal preferences maps, but you'll need to provide essential information in an accessible format like an address third party content that's under someone else's control if you did not pay for it or develop it yourself - for example, social media "like" buttons on intranets or extranets published before 23 September 2018 (unless you make a major revision after that date). Sites that have been archived because they are no longer required by the services your organisation offers and are no longer being updated.

Your accessibility statement will need to explain why you haven't made stuff like this accessible.

When it's necessary to adhere to these rules

Depending on the sort of material your team is in charge of, different deadlines apply.

New sites

After September 23, 2018, if you've launched a new public sector website, you must adhere to accessibility guidelines and post an accessibility statement. Re-evaluate and revise your statement on a frequent basis.

Accessibility saves you money and effort in addition to making your website more usable for everyone. It's less expensive and takes less time than addressing faults after they've already been developed.

It's possible to incorporate accessibility into the design and development of a new website.

Existing sites

Accessibility criteria must be met, and an accessibility declaration must be published. Re-evaluate and revise your statement on a frequent basis.

Whenever major alterations are made to them, both intranets and extranets must be updated to reflect those alterations.

For example, if it's prohibitively expensive to make even modest improvements and the advantages to handicapped individuals are minimal, you may not have to fulfil all of the standards for your whole website or app.

Make an appointment with your legal counsel to determine what is excessive in your circumstance.

If you're redeveloping an existing website using an agile strategy, you may include accessibility enhancements as part of your iteration. We offer advice on how to repair difficulties with your site, or app.

Even if you've outsourced your website to a third-party provider, you are still legally responsible for ensuring that your website is accessible.

Websites created by contractors

The accessibility of your website will depend on how closely you and your provider collaborate if you've outsourced any or all of its development.

The first step in making your website or app more accessible is to find out how much it would cost to make the necessary adjustments. If you try to solve everything at once, you may discover that it burdens your organisation excessively. You and your supplier should work together to determine what is feasible to repair now, and when the rest of the adjustments will be implemented.

In order to make things as plain as possible for visitors to your website, provide a statement about your accessibility intentions.

Consider the following while signing a new contract or re-negotiating an existing one:

  • Procurement of technology should be done in accordance with government guidelines, such as granting contracts that are not too long and utilising open standards. This makes it simpler to take advantage of technological improvements that can increase accessibility when feasible
  • Request for quotations should include requirements for accessibility in procurement (RFQ)
  • As part of the contract evaluation, consider incorporating accessibility into regular evaluations
  • Technology that is easy to use has been given a standard by the European Commission (EC)

Apps for smartphones and other mobile devices

Mobile apps for the public sector are subject to the same accessibility rules. There must be an accessibility declaration on the apps.

How will the rules for accessibility be implemented and monitored?

On behalf of Cabinet Office Minister, the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) keeps an eye on the compliance of public sector organisations. A random sample of public sector websites and mobile apps is analysed by CDDO once a year. Inquiries and requests for access to intranets, extranets, applications, and other public sector websites can be made through CDDO.

Equality Act 2010 and Disability Discrimination Act 1995 apply to all public sector bodies in England, Scotland and Wales, and Northern Ireland. All public sector mobile applications will be investigated by CDDO to ensure equitable access to services. According to this, all service providers in the United Kingdom must make "reasonable adaptations" for persons with disabilities.

Public sector organisations are required to issue and periodically evaluate an accessibility statement.

Accessibility statements from public sector bodies will be published if the CDDO determines that they are erroneous or incomplete.


The obligation that public sector websites and mobile applications be accessible will be enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in England, Scotland, and Wales and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) in Northern Ireland (making them perceivable, operable, understandable and robust).

The failure to make reasonable changes will be attributed to organisations that do not fulfil the accessibility requirement or do not give a sufficient answer to a request for information in an accessible manner. The Equality Act of 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 will be violated as a result.

As a result, the EHRC and ECNI have the authority to pursue legal action against violating organisations through investigations, notifications of unlawful acts, and other means.

How a person can raise a problem with a site or app?

If a user encounters an accessibility problem while using a public sector organisation's website or mobile app, the first step should be to contact the organisation directly using the contact information provided in its accessibility statement.

Within a reasonable length of time, the public sector entity must respond to the user's complaint.

The Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) is available in England, Scotland, and Wales if the user is not satisfied with the response they got. Northern Ireland's ECNI, the Equalities Commission for Northern Ireland.

The EHRC can be contacted by the user if they feel the issue has not been remedied (ECNI in Northern Ireland).

Read next: What's new with WCAG 2.2 and how can you comply?

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