The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 came into force on 23 September 2018.

The regulations aim to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps are accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities.

All new public sector websites will need to meet accessibility standards and publish an accessibility statement.

This will make clear the level of accessibility across the site or app.

Where there are barriers, the statement will inform users of alternative routes to access.

The statement will also enable users to contact the website owner if they identify issues.

All public sector websites have until 2020 to comply.

Many public sector bodies already publish accessibility information on their website. The new regulations mean this information will have to be presented in a consistent way and based on a model statement. The accessibility statement should:

  • list any inaccessible parts of the website or app
  • show how people with access needs can get alternatives to content that’s not accessible
  • provide details on who to contact to report accessibility issues
  • provide information on the enforcement procedure if people are not happy with the response
  • be published in a fully accessible form
  • follow a consistent format

The statement will also need to be updated annually.

Accessibility on parish council sites provided by Suffolk Cloud, Norfolk Cloud and Essex Cloud

We are fully committed to providing sites that meet the new regulations and have been working on revised websites since late 2019 in order to guarantee compliance.

How we test

All of our standard parish websites use shared templates and styles. In order to test our sites we created sample pages on a test site. We used the SiteImprove Accessibility Checker for the Chrome browser to conduct tests. We tested all of our templates using basic content and pictures. Our aim was to eliminate any errors or warnings found by SiteImprove.

We have eliminated all errors apart from one false positive, one issue with a third party plugin and one issue with our search box.

These are:

Label not connected to a form or control - we do not show the label for our search box to save space. The search box does contain a label added by javascript.

Content not included in landmarks - the first of these occurrences is caused by our third-party cookie regulations plugin. The plugin does appear to conform to the WCAG guidelines but still generates an error. This is a free plugin and we think it is worth using rather than passing on additional costs to parishes.

Content not included in landmarks - the second occurrence flags our skip to content link (not visible to people that aren't using a screen reader) although the link does appear to conform to the WCAG guidelines and has appropriate aria-label and role tags.

Issues flagged for review by the Site Improve plugin have been reviewed.

Advice for webmasters

It is possible to cause accessibility problems when you create content. Issues to watch out for are:

  • changing text colours/using coloured backgrounds with low contrast
  • using images as links to another page or website
  • using tables to format pages (tables are fine for columnar data such as lists)

You can download the Site Improve Accessibility checker for Chrome and test your own pages. The plugin is free.