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Home  »  Resource Center  »  Country Profiles  »  White Paper - Web Accessibility Policy Making  »  Country Profile - United Kingdom

Web Accessibility Policy Making:
An International Perspective

This document is an excerpt from the G3ict White Paper “Accessibility Policy Making: An International Perspective,” (Revised Edition 2012) researched and edited by Nirmita Narasimhan of Centre for Internet & Society, India, in collaboration with accessibility and disability policy experts from around the world. The paper seeks to identify some of the initiatives and best practices which have been adopted by 14 countries and the European Union as a first step towards policy formulation for countries.

You can read the full report here. View the complete list of publications and reports here.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has generic anti-discrimination legislation in the form of the Equality Act but no specific accessibilityrelated legislation. Web Accessibility Guidelines are provided through a publicly available specification, and there is a Code of Practice that provides guidelines on providing accessible services. This is applicable to any service provider - both public and private. The UK is a signatory to both the UNCRPD and the Optional Protocol.

1. Overview:

The United Kingdom's web accessibility framework is based on its general anti-discrimination legislation. Additionally, formal guidelines help in the creation of accessible websites.

  • Equality Act 2010:

This is an over-arching antidiscrimination law in Britain that consolidates the functions of the now repealed Equal Pay Act, 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act, 1975, the Race Relations Act, 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 and statutory instruments protecting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age. The Equality Act makes provisions for web accessibility and for reasonable accommodations to make information accessible.

  • The Statutory Code of Practice 2010 -Accessible information:

The Code of Practice, which was revised in keeping with the Equality Act, deals with Accessible Information. The Code breaks down the various tenets of the Equality Act and outlines good practices that organizations, companies and services can follow against discrimination on the basis of sex, race or disability. The Code discusses accessible information, ‘substantial disadvantage,' reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services in sections 7.10, 7.44 and 7.48. While not an authoritative statement of law, the Code must be considered, in relevant part, by the courts when they hear claims under the Equality Act. The Code additionally seeks to prevent illegal action in the first place by outlining good practice.

  • BS 8878:2010 -British Standards Institute:

The BS8878:2010 Web Accessibility Code of Practice developed by the British Standards Institute in 2010 is compliant with the Equality Act and has been updated to match WCAG 2.0.

  • e-Accessibility action plan - Department for Culture, Media and Sport:

The e-accessibility action plan is aimed at making ICTs more accessible and covers regulation, accessible consumer technology and digital equipment, website services, accessible content, updating guidelines on website accessibility to comply with WCAG, developing a single point of access for information on access to webbased services for disabled people, and encouraging educators to make their web based teaching more inclusive and accessible.

2. Compliance with WCAG:

Not wholly. However, the BS 8878:2010 refers to the WCAG.

3. Applicability:

Any service provider (includes any site which provides service to the public, including the private sector).

4. Protocol for evaluating and monitoring:

There is no specific policy or mechanism to review and monitor existing laws and guidelines.

5. Links:
1. Equality Act 2010            

2. Code of Practice

3. BS 8878:2010

4. e-Accessibility Action Plan