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Accessibility Requirements - 23rd September 2019

Published on 23/09/19

The government has released new accessibility requirements for public sector bodies, which have to be implemented on all websites built after 23/09/2018 by 23/09/2019.

For websites built prior to 23/09/2018, these changes have to be in effect by 23/09/2020.

What are the new requirements?

The government wants websites and mobile apps to be as accessible to as many different people as possible so that all content can be digested or adapted by all users. This includes making content accessible to those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments, learning disabilities and deafness or impaired hearing.

Public sector websites need to be compliant with accessibility settings and need to be ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’ for all users by meeting the international accessibility standard - WCAG 2.1AA.

What does this actually mean?

In practical terms, this means that:

  • All non-text content should have an easily accessible text alternative that serves an equivalent purpose - for example alt text on images that describe what the image is.
  • All links should have a descriptive label - for example "read our latest newsletter" as opposed to "click here".
  • The website content should not be restricted to a specific display orientation - this is easily addressed with a responsive website design.
  • Colour is not the only means of conveying information - so for example, a colourful image isn’t the only way to access a new link - there’s an alt-text option or a text link alongside it. Colours should also meet contrasting requirements and be distinguishable from each other (e.g. not having fluorescent text on a bright background)
  • There should be an option for users who use assisted software such as screen readers to access the content.
  • Content should be easy to read and understand - with easy to use language, bullet points and easily navigable layouts.

This sounds worrying, should I be concerned?

You do need to be aware of the legislation, for your own peace of mind, however as a school or nursery, you do not need to be concerned.

All UK service providers do have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, however, schools and nurseries are exempt from the 2018 Public Sector Bodies (Website and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The only exception to this rule is the content on your website that people need to use in order to use your services - for example registration forms, forms that let you outline school meal preferences or content relating to information like term dates and uniform.

You would also need to be mindful of PDF attachments - so for example, if you have a PDF form for choosing school meal choices, you need to have an alternative option available for those with accessibility requirements.

Does e4education build accessibility compliant websites?

Yes, we do. All of the websites built onto our latest Content Management System are fully responsive and built in accordance with the WCAG 2.1AA accessibility standards.

All of our websites allow users to access a high visibility version which is designed for screen readers and assistive technology and with our feature rich software and WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) editor, our customers have the ability to add and edit content, as well as the option to add in alt-text to images, descriptive text links to URL links and tooltips when building forms.

We determine correct brand fonts and colours during the design phase, to ensure that our websites are as visually accessible as possible in terms of colour contrast and text legibility, whilst still meeting their brand requirements.

We also take audio/visual cues very seriously, so if any audio plays automatically for more than 3 seconds on a homepage video, then we give users an option available to pause or stop it. Most mobile browsers now do not auto play audio content by default - but best practice states there should be an option to play/pause sound if the preference is for audio to be heard.

Want to know more about our school websites?

If your school or MAT is looking for a new website that is responsive, secure and accessibility compliant, why not speak to one of our friendly Sales Team and see how we can help?

Give us a call on 03453 191 039 or send us an email at hello@e4education.co.uk and let’s get started on your new project today!

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessibility-requirements-for-public-sector-websites-and-apps#exemptions
https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/

Katie Sixsmith

Katie joined e4education in November 2015 as a Project Co-ordinator in our Production Team. She was promoted to Production Supervisor in 2017 and then moved over to join the Commercial Team as our Marketing and Communications Executive in the summer of 2018. She has a 2.1 BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the Open University. 

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