British Standard on web accessibility finally published

Regular Techblog readers may remember my post back in May on the latest consultation by the British Standards Institute on BS 8878, the proposed British Standard on web accessibility. Well, yesterday the final version of BS 8878 was published.

The new Standard
As I said back in May, BS 8878:2010 Web Accessibility. Code of Practice (to give it its Sunday title) is designed to assist organisations in understanding how to develop and commission accessible websites and web products (a generic term used to cover websites, apps and other things that utilise web-based technologies).

The Code of Practice does not seek to replace existing technical guidelines (such as the W3C‘s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Instead, it provides guidance and recommendations on good practice for senior management, procurement managers, those in charge of web policy within an organisation, and those people responsible for creating online content.

In particular, it provides guidance on things to consider when procuring web design services, or buying content management systems, from third parties.

Ancillary benefits
As well as helping organisations identify and overcome accessibility problems for people with disability (and helping them to comply with their legal obligations), following the guidance should also improve usability for elderly web users, as well as usability for customers in general (how often does a website not render properly on a mobile device? That’s usually down to poor usability design).

Interaction with the Equality Act
I also blogged recently about the new Equality Act, which has replaced the Disability Discrimination Act, and sets out the laws applying to the accessibility of websites offered by service providers. Whilst complying with BS 8878 will not necessarily automatically mean compliance with the Equality Act, if an organisation can show that it followed the best practice guidance contained in BS 8878, it is likely to assist in demonstrating to a court that the organisation has complied with its obligations to make reasonable adjustments.

BS 8878 can be downloaded from the British Standard Institute’s website. The cost is £100, with a discount available for charities. For an overview of what BS 8878 covers, you should soon be able to download a webinar run earlier today by the ICT and disability charity AbilityNet.

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