Truly worldwide websites: BSI British Standards begins work on new web accessibility standard

Press release - 14 March 2008

BSI British Standards has established a new technical committee with responsibility for the development of a British Standard on web accessibility. The standard will enable all types of organizations and individuals to commission and maintain websites which are accessible to all their potential audiences.

The new consensus standard will build on PAS 78, Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, which has been a great success in terms of demand and application. It will take into account developments in technology and web use since the publication of PAS 78 in March 2006, such as an increase in user generated content and social networking and will consider the accessibility of tools used by web designers.

The benefits of using the new standard, which is expected to be published in Spring 2009, include improved interoperability of web content ensuring compatibility with different devices, such as mobile phones. In addition, businesses which take up the new standard stand to tap into the spending power of disabled people which is estimated at £80bn per annum.

It is expected that the British Standard will become part of a wider series of standards as the new committee, IST 45/ Web Accessibility, develops further standards and guidance material in this area.

Julie Howell, Chair of IST/45 Web Accessibility, said, “Inaccessible websites cause disabled people unnecessary problems and distress. It is time to address this needless inequality. I welcome BSI’s decision to produce a British Standard on Web Accessibility and am honoured to chair the technical committee that will oversee this work. Inventor of the worldwide web, Professor Sir Tim-Berners Lee, declared that access by disabled people is ‘essential’. I am convinced this work will bring us another huge leap closer to realising this vision.”

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said: “PAS 78 has been an enormous success, demonstrating the demand for a full consensus standard in this area. BSI has brought together a wide range of expertise in the field of web accessibility to develop a robust standard which will yield great benefits for disabled web users and industry.”

About BSI Group
BSI British Standards is part of BSI Group, a global independent business services organization that inspires confidence and delivers assurance to customers with standards-based solutions. Originating as the world’s first national standards body, the Group has over 2,250 staff operating in over 100 countries through more than 50 global offices. The Group’s key offerings are:

  • The development and sale of private, national and international standards and supporting information
  • Second and third-party management systems assessment and certification
  • Product testing and certification of services and products
  • Performance management software solutions
  • Training services in support of standards implementation and business best practice.

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