Does your website meet new legislation?

05/09/2020

Please read these notes before making any changes to your website or web provider.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

This is not specifically about what your website looks like.  It is more to do with how your websites can be accessed by assistive software.  

Websites consist of a series of instructions, called 'code' which are read and followed by your browser. These instructions tell your browser how to display your website, such as the size, font and colour of the text, whether a series of words is a title, a heading or basic text, and where to place an image or a table.

There are many different browsers.  Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari are probably the most well-known.  Each handles - and therefore displays - websites differently, though you probably wouldn't notice the differences.

ASSISTIVE SOFTWARE

In recent years, software has been developed which helps people with disabilities to access websites.  Some software can read out aloud what is on the screen.  Other software can remove unnecessary design elements so the user can get to the important stuff.

BACKGROUND TO MAKING WEBSITES

Originally, we all used PCs to look at websites. Now we use many different devices including laptops, tablets and mobile phones. So websites must now to be designed technically to make sure they can be seen easily by users of any device.

In the early days of the internet, websites were created by experts who wrote each letter or number of the code manually.  It was time-consuming, skilled and complicated. Then software was created that performed much of these technical tasks automatically.

This software is known as a 'content management system' because all you need to do is to choose a basic temp;late and colour scheme, type some text into a box and add some pictures or any other 'furniture' like a table or a link to another site.  You can also add what is known as 'alternative text' which describes each photograph for those who are not able to see your images.

The new Government standards refer mainly to this technical 'background' code, but a website's 'look' and design is also important.  Users need to find easily what they are looking for.   All your uploaded documents such as agendas and minutes should be in PDF/A format which allows software to search for a specific word.

Your input should be to remove all unneccesary material and 'clutter' and keep all future material simple, concise and clear.  Beyond that, you need to talk to the person or company who proview your website.

THE LEGISLATION

The relevant legislation is the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.  Mobile apps need to meet the regulations by 23 June 2021. All future local council websites must be compliant before going live. 

WHY DO WE NEED THIS LEGISLATION?

More than 20% of people in the UK have a long term illness, impairment or disability.  Many more have a temporary disability.  This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

For example, someone with impaired vision might use a screen reader (software that lets a user navigate a website and 'read out' the content), braille display or screen magnifier.  Or someone with motor difficulties might use a special mouse, speech recognition software or on-screen keyboard emulator.

HOW TO CHECK YOUR WEBSITE

Speak to your website provider. Ask them 'Does our new website comply with WCAG 2.1AA accessibility standards?".  Ask them to end you a scan report to show you it does.

Run your own check by using a free browser plugin for Chrome, such as WAVE by WebAim or SiteImprove .

If you have created a council website, check compliance by visiting the Web Accessibility Initiative (link below). 

Go to SLCC to see WCAG 2.1AA compliant website packages offered by SLCC in partnership with Aubergine, who have developed an off-the-shelf compliant website package with discounts available for SLCC members.