GDS launches consultation on website and app accessibility

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has launched a consultation to gather views on how to best implement the EU Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile apps.

The Directive requires public sector web sites to “ensure that public sector bodies take the necessary measures to make their websites and mobile applications more accessible by making them perceivable, operable, understandable and robust”, to the extent that doing so would not impose a disproportionate burden.

The consultation concerns the UK government’s plan to implement the Directive including draft regulations. It includes what guidance and what training the government will provide to public sector bodies to help meet the accessibility criteria.

We would also like to hear from public sector bodies on how they will comply with the Directive and their thoughts on GDS’s proposed monitoring plan for the Directive’s implementation.


Principles and techniques

Writing in a blog post Kelly Smth, EU Policy Advisor at the GDS, outlined how this means following a set of principles and techniques when building, designing, maintaining and updating websites and apps to ensure people can use them, especially people with disabilities.

The obligation to make websites and mobile apps more accessible will apply to websites and mobile applications in different stages, over the next three years. But by 2021, all public sector websites and mobile apps will need to comply with the Directive.

“Public sector bodies will need to evaluate the accessibility of their websites and mobile applications,” wrote Smith. “They will then be expected to fix any issues and provide detail of this in an accessibility statement hosted on their website. If there are areas of inaccessible content, the organisation responsible will have to explain the way in which the content is not accessible and the reason for it. They will also have to provide accessible alternatives where appropriate.”

There are some exceptions to the above. For example, public service broadcasters and some types of published content are exempt, such as online maps and pre-recorded videos published before September 2020.The full list is in the consultation document.

Brexit will have no impact on the directive as it’s in line with the government’s current policy on accessibility. Also, during the transition period, the government will continue to implement and apply EU legislation.

The consultation will run until 28 May. If you would like to respond, please follow this link to the consultation page.

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