Digital Inclusion: First British Standard to Promote Web Accessibility Globally
Press release: 30 November 2010
Growing dependence on the internet for business and personal use has introduced a very real challenge to website owners. The internet should help improve our lives, and yet, how does it benefit those who are unable to access websites with ease? The need to make the web more universally accessible has become increasingly urgent. As a result, BSI has developed the first British Standard to fully address the challenge of digital inclusion. Building on guidance published in 2006, the new BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice presents a fully up-to-date, detailed guide for businesses and organizations to make web products more accessible to disabled and older users. By increasing the accessibility of these interfaces, the web will inevitably become more usable for all.
Most website owners acknowledge the need to eliminate existing barriers that keep millions from accessing online services. Yet although they may be willing to implement accessibility, they lack the “know-how” to do so. BS 8878 demonstrates how to create organizational policies and production processes that identify and remove these digital divides.
The standard’s publication is especially timely given that the new Equality Act 2010 places an obligation on information providers to ensure their web products are accessible. Both the public and private sector will benefit from this new standard.
BSI’s Director of Standards Mike Low says: “We all recognise that the digital age promises huge benefits - for organizations and consumers alike. It’s also the case, as noted in the UK government’s recent eAccessibility Action Plan, that too many people are excluded from participating fully in these. We are pleased therefore that BS 8878 is central to the Action Plan’s aim to update current advice on making public and private sector websites more accessible. BS 8878 provides guidance on how to remove barriers to inclusion and highlights a simple truth: if accessibility is built-in, it’s a win-win for site owners and users”
Jonathan Hassell, of the BBC, Chair of the committee responsible for developing BS 8878, adds: “BS 8878 is designed to be a real-world standard, talking about real issues which are experienced by users of up-to-date web products on the devices on which they use those products. It provides an end-to-end guide which identifies the key decisions web production teams make which affect whether or not their products will include or exclude disabled and older people. It advises production teams on how they can best consider their options in making and documenting those decisions. And it details ways of embedding such best practices in organizations to assure accessibility of their web products over time.”
BSI is committed to establishing and supporting standards which promote the availability of products and services to all consumers – regardless of their sensory, cognitive or physical abilities. For World Standards Day this year, BSI produced a documentary on web accessibility which can be viewed on BSI’s YouTube Channel - watch the BSI documentary on accessibility.