Framework Accessible Online Documents

The new standards

The new accessibility regulations that came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018, say we must make our website or mobile app more accessible by making it ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’.

From January 2020, the Government Digital Service (GDS) will monitor public sector bodies’ compliance on behalf of the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Organisations that do not meet the accessibility requirement or fail to provide a satisfactory response to a request to produce information in an accessible format, will be failing to make reasonable adjustments. This means they will be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The EHRC and ECNI can therefore use their legal powers against offending organisations, including investigations, unlawful act notices and court action.

see original text in GOV.UK’s page

The regulations apply to all online content including documents (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and it means that we must adapt and re-publish all our online material, in order to meet the new regulations within the given timeframe:

  • All documents published from September 2018 must be fully compliant.
  • All documents published before September 2018 must be fully compliant by September 2020.

Beyond the ‘regulatory’ accessibility requirements, we also have a responsibility to ensure any documents we publish are:

  • in the best possible format and layout, in order to provide the same functionality and comfort of reading across all media (responsive)
  • are always current and up to date
  • have a good chance to be discovered through search engines and links

We can not publish any documents from now on if they do not meet the required guidelines

What do I need to do?

You need to ensure that the documents you submit for publication on are compliant with the new regulations/requirements.

Through the chapters of this article you will find step-by-step guides, templates and checklists to help you understand what is needed as well as implementing it.

If your role requires you to produce documents for online publishing, please read through all the steps at least once to understand and familiarise yourself with the new standards.

It is also important to remember that we are solely responsible for published material that has been produced by third parties under our commission (1). They will need to follow the guidelines (under your instructions) in the same way, much as a designing third party would be producing material within our branding guidelines.

(1) Third-party content that is neither funded nor developed by us, nor under our control is excluded from these regulations. In other words, user-contributed content such as documents that are voluntarily submitted to support comments in a consultation e.g. responses to the Draft Local Plan consultation.

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