What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) cover a wide range of recommendations for making web and mobile content accessible to everyone, including those with visual, auditory, mobility or cognitive impairments. They are developed and published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world. The latest guidelines, WCAG 2.1, were recommended in June 2018. This post will focus on what UK and Ireland Public Sector organisations will need to consider when developing web content in order to promote accessibility to everyone and remain compliant with WCAG and EU Directive standards.

Compliance Deadlines:

  • New public sector websites must conform by 23rd September 2019.
  • All public sector websites by 23rd September 2020.
  • All public sector mobile apps by 23rd June 2021.

What is the European Web Accessibility Directive?

The EU Accessibility Directive was created to guarantee that all public sector organisation websites and apps are accessible, using existing accessibility standards. Aiming to unify the standards throughout all EU member states, the directive ensures all members have a process in place for testing and an on-going commitment to accessibility going forward. Overall, the directive goes a long way toward establishing uniform rules for online accessibility within the EU.

Why is accessibility important?

Making web content accessible benefits everyone. When we consider people with physical impairments, we tend to think of those with major and permanent disabilities. While taking these into account is not only ethical but promotes equal access and equal opportunity, in reality, we have all faced some sort of impairment throughout our lives. Whether we have reduced hearing due to a crowded room, only one available hand with our morning coffee in the other, or are recovering from a temporary eye injury, impairments can prevent us from accessing content in the standard way. Organisations risk excluding a significant portion of people by not applying accessibility standards.

To summarise, every public sector website must conform to both the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the European Web Accessibility Directive by ensuring their websites are compliant by the dates above.

What does this mean for my organisation?

Passed in October 2016, the directive requires that all public sector bodies ensure that their websites and applications are accessible to everyone. The directive refers to required standards to make websites more accessible, such as text for images or ensuring that a website can be browsed without a mouse. As a result, organisations must ensure that their websites and applications conform with the regulations set out by WCAG and the EU directive, by the dates highlighted below:

  • New public sector websites must conform by 23rd September 2019.
  • All public sector websites by 23rd September 2020.
  • All public sector mobile apps by 23rd June 2021.

“Everyone should benefit from the opportunities offered by the internet and fully participate in the digital society.”  – European Commission

What are my next steps?

Application Modernisation continues to play a key role in ensuring legacy systems meet these guidelines, increasing accessibility of web content across a range of platforms such as desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Version 1’s approach to Application Modernisation enables you to ensure that the capabilities of your applications are in sync with both your current and future business requirements. With unique IP and established methodologies, we can help modernise your applications, making them more agile and responsive to industry needs, while protecting your existing investments. If your website currently doesn’t meet WCAG and EU Directive standards, Version 1 can ensure you meet and exceed all accessibility guidelines.

Ensure your organisation is compliant by the dates highlighted in this post, and get in touch with Version 1 below.