BSI British Standards invites comments on new draft standard on accessible websites

Press release - 1 December 2008

BSI British Standards is inviting all interested parties, and in particular marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible websites. DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Building accessible experiences for disabled people – Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable websites to their customers.

DPC BS 8878 can be viewed at until 31 January 2009. All comments will be considered by the BSI technical committee responsible for drafting the standard.

DPC BS 8878 has been designed to introduce accessibility, usability and user experience for disabled people to non-technical professionals, some of whom may be completely new to this subject. It gives guidance on process, rather than on technical and design issues, including recommendations for:

  • involving disabled people in the development process and using automated tools to assist with accessibility testing
  • the management of the guidance and process for upholding existing accessibility guidelines and specifications.

Based on PAS 78: 2006, Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 informs organizations of their legal responsibilities in relation to web accessibility, calling on them to appoint a specific person or department to oversee activity. Responsibility could fall within the Marketing, PR or External Relations departments which typically look after the organization’s website, or it could be Operations staff, Product Managers, HR Managers or others who are responsible for internal web applications.

The draft standard stresses the impact that an organizations’ choice of technologies can have upon its audience and gives guidance on how to assess this. It also includes guidance for considering the needs of web users according to their specific disability, for example, people with physical impairments or people with learning disabilities.

DPC BS 8878 also contains text which can be extracted and used in an organization’s accessibility or procurement statement.

Julie Howell, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878, commented, “Once published, this standard will be a fantastic tool for organizations wishing to understand their responsibilities in enabling disabled people to use web content. DPC BS 8878 encourages the enhancement of the overall user experience - a much more holistic approach than we have seen previously and one that I hope will yield exciting results. Right now we want to encourage as many people as possible to read and comment on the draft standard to ensure it is as relevant as possible.”

Publication of BS 8878 is expected in summer, 2009.