New Digital Accessibility regulations in force

New digital accessibility regulations came into force on September 2018, placing a duty on public sector bodies – including the University – to make intranets, extranets, mobile applications and virtual learning environments accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities.

All public-sector bodies must comply with the accessibility requirement unless doing so places a disproportionate burden on the organisation.

The new requirements build on existing commitments to support disabled people under the Equality Act 2010, which state that all UK service providers must make anticipatory reasonable adjustments. They also implement an EU Directive on digital accessibility.

Dr Dorothy Welch, Deputy Secretary of the University, has formed a working group to provide a University-wide response which will include a new accessibility statement and guidelines on how to comply with the regulations.

She said: “It has always been our aim to encompass digital accessibility good practice across the University. Now, however, regulations which emanate from an EU Directive on the accessibility of websites and other digital media mean that existing laws now go further. It is important that we work to comply with the new regulations, not least because they are legally enforceable but also because we should be doing everything we can as a higher education institution to enhance the study and work environment for everyone.

”The roll-out of the regulations will involve an audit of how compliant we are and training will be provided, if required, to those responsible for digital content. This work will complement the rollout of the Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy launched last year, and will aid mainstreaming of best practice throughout our digital provision.”

Making content accessible

When new content is published, it needs to meet the accessibility standards fully, although the target dates for various types and/or platforms vary.

  • 23 September 2019 for new websites created from 23 September 2018
  • 23 September 2020 for existing websites
  • 23 June 2021 for mobile apps

People who create content on websites and intranets need to be aware that they have a legal responsibility to make the content accessible.

This includes:

  • making sure PDFs or other documents they create are accessible
  • making sure images are accessible
  • following conventions for creating accessible content (for example, write descriptive links instead of "click here")
  • ensure videos have captioning and a transcript (the transcript is also searchable via search engines making the content easier to find)

Exempt types of content

Some types of content and websites are exempt from the new regulations.

But even if something is exempt, all UK service providers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.

For further information, contact Drew McConnell, Information Officer (Business Relationship Manager)


First published: 22 February 2019