This section provides information about the standards and guidance you should follow to make your systems, products and services accessible.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) means that as an employer or service provider you cannot discriminate against disabled people. The act is flexible in that it requires you to establish what reasonable steps to take to ensure that disabled people can work for you and use your services. However this flexibility in the law can prove challenging when developing and procuring ICT that is inclusive to disabled people. Find out more about accessible ICT and the law.
Whether developing internet or intranet websites your designers and developers should be aware of recognised industry standards for web accessibility. These are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0.
The Public Sector
Public sector organisations should visit the Central Office for Information (COI) Website for the latest information on web standards and guidelines that comply with your duties under the Disability Discrimination Act including the Disability Equality Duty.
The European Commission is promoting 'eAccessibility' with the aim of ensuring people who are older or disabled can access and use ICT products, services and applications on equal terms with others. As part of this initiative member states have committed to improving the accessibility of all public websites. The Riga Ministerial Declaration has indicated a target date of 2010.
Commissioning and procuring accessible websites
Many organisations outsource the development of websites and related applications like Content Management Systems. It should be noted that the onus is you as the purchaser to specify you accessibility requirements early on in the procurement process. We recommend that you use the guidance document Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 to help your procure an accessible website.
Procuring accessible ICT from international suppliers
There is a growing awareness across the ICT industry of the business benefits of accessible ICT. However when it comes to procuring many 'Commercial off-the-Shelf Products' (COTS), there is confusion over standards and guidance available to help organisations to develop and commission compliant technology. While WCAG 2.0 can help set out requirements for web applications there is no international standard for non-web applications. If you are dealing with a US based supplier you can ask to see their 'Voluntary Product Accessibility Template' (VPAT). Guidance on procuring accessible ICT from global suppliers is now a priority activity for our Technology Taskforce.
Setting your own standards
In addition to standards for web accessibility your organisation would benefit from comprehensive standards for all Application Software, MS Office, Acrobat PDF and Adobe Flash.