United Kingdom - Article 21

  1. Is there existing legislation in your country to encourage or ensure that websites, in particular government, public service or other sites providing widespread services of general use (such as hiring services, travel, telephony, energy, education, employment, leisure...) are accessible to visually impaired people? Please be sure to specify in your answer to which categories of site the regulation(s) apply.

    Yes- to some extent.

    The Equality Act came into force in October 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in England, Scotland and Wales.

    Like the DDA, the Equality Act was introduced with the intention of comprehensively tackling the discrimination which many disabled people face.

    The Act is 'anticipatory', which means service providers cannot wait until a disabled person wants to use their services. They are required to think in advance (and on an ongoing basis) about what disabled people with a range of impairments (sight loss, hearing loss, mobility and cognitive impairments) might reasonably need.

    The law does not refer specifically to web accessibility. However, it does have the effect of making unlawful for a website to:

    • have links on that are not accessible to a screen reader
    • have application forms (for instance, for bank accounts or job application forms) in a PDF format that cannot be read by a screen reader
    • have core service information (for instance, timetables on a public transport website) that is not in a format accessible to screen readers.
    • use text, colour contrasting and formatting that make the website inaccessible to a partially sighted service user
    • change security procedures (for instance, on an e-commerce website) without considering the impact of blind and partially sighted customers that use screen readers.

    The Code of Practice: Rights of Access - Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises document published by the government's Equality and Human Rights Commission to accompany the Act does refer explicitly to websites as one of the "services to the public" which should be considered covered by the Act.

  2. What are the standards that are used in your country to measure website accessibility?

    The UK law is not specific on this point. There is no case law on the matter as yet, and even if there were, it could only provide broad guidance.
    At RNIB, as outlined in our "Surf Right" website accessibility requirements, we recommend that websites exceed the basic level of compliance that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommend in their Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 1.0 and aim for Double AA compliance. If you are a UK government website you should be aiming to achieve Double AA.

  3. Is there an authority in place to establish, measure and control website accessibility?

    No

  4. Is there a legal obligation to regularly review the accessibility of websites?

    No
    If yes, at what intervals?

  5. Is there an established timeframe for

    1. new websites to be made accessible?
      if yes what is it ?

      No
    2. existing websites to be made accessible?
      if yes what is it ?

      No
  6. What sanctions are imposed by the law for websites which fail to comply with accessibility regulations?

    This has not been fully tested in the courts as yet.

  7. Is there a legal obligation to include awareness of accessibility issues in training provided to webmasters and related professions?

    No

  8. Is there a legal obligation on educational authorities to provide specific training on Web accessibility issues in related areas (such as engineering and computer sciences, telecommunications and networks courses, etc)?

    No

  9. Are there official guidelines in place to assist webmasters and technical staff in making their websites accessible?

    No

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