Feedback exercise provides step towards compliance with EU directive by 2021
The Government Digital Service (GDS) has launched a consultation on the accessibility of public sector websites and apps as part of the move towards compliance with an EU directive on the issue.
It has set out the background and the main elements of its approach with a series of questions for public officials to provide feedback on how well they understand and comply with the requirements.
The Government is planning to comply with the directive despite the UK’s impending departure from the EU. It will apply in stages over the next three years but all public authorities are expected to comply by 2021.
A blogpost on the consultation says that public sector bodies will need to evaluate the accessibility of their websites and apps, fix any issues and provide details in an accessibility statement on their site. They will also have to explain the reasons for any content not being accessible and provide alternatives where appropriate.
The consultation document says that GDS will produce guidance and, where appropriate, training on how to comply with the directive.
On the issue of enforcement, it says organisations should provide a mechanism for complaints about accessibility and a procedure for people who are not happy with the responses they receive. But it is not proposing to set up a new oversight or create any new fines for non-compliance.
It also outlines the types of content that are exempt from the directive, including live video, online maps and mapping services, third party content and reproductions of items in heritage collections, such as scanned manuscripts.
There is also an acknowledgement that in some circumstances it will place a disproportionate burden on a public body to meet the requirements. If this is the case it should be explained in the organisation’s web accessibility statement.
The consultation is also open to the third and private sectors, professional bodies, interest groups and the public, and is set to run until 28 May.
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