Accessibility Statements

By Matt,

May 2019

Web Dev
Legislation is changing for public sector sites and their attitude to accessibility. Maybe it's time the rest of the web implemented these changes too.

Using the internet is a frustrating experience at the best of times. I am often left flummoxed by weird user experience decisions an I am not restricted in how I can use a computer.

I don't have any problems with my sight, my motor skills, my hearing, or have any cognitive issues. I'm also used to using a computer and the web. I'm sure that as I get older, I will be affected by one or more of these issues, at least temporarily.

If I find it difficult to use the web at times, it must be extremely difficult for anyone less fortunate than me. The issues around this will only become more pronounced as more and more essential services move online.

New accessibility requirements for public sector bodies

Government Digital Services (GDS) have recently updated their guidelines on what public sector websites need to do in order to meet accessibility requirements. This includes publishing a statement on the site, detailing what is accessible, what's not, and why.

They have also published a sample statement, so that other departments can easily add this to their site once an evaluation has been completed.

Accessibility is not just for the public sector

Accessibility is not just useful for those who have some form of disability. It generally makes a better user experience for everyone.

This got me thinking that a standardised accessibility statement would be useful, not just for public sector websites, but for everyone.

All users would benefit from having a standardised way of assessing the accessibility issues or affordances a site might have. A user might find it helpful to know that they can raise any issues they find with the site owner – not that it is their responsibility – and be informed how to do it.

Perhaps the next iteration of the Toward site should incorporate one? Not only could this be useful for our users, its potentially a good starting point for us to begin looking at issues our site might have, and put us on the hook for addressing them. By putting any known problems out there, it means we have some impetus to get on and fix them.

Perhaps if the industry treated these like T&Cs and Privacy statements, we could help raise the visibility and standard of accessibility across the web.