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GDS publishes new design guidance for web accessibility

Drawing of WCAG screen
Image source: GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has produced guidance to help public sector service teams meet new standards for web accessibility.

It said the GOV.UK Design System will help them comply with the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.2), for which UK government services will be monitored from next October.

In a blogpost on the issue, senior accessibility specialist David Cox said that thousands of government services will require WCAG 2.2 updates over the year, and that the new document provides teams with code and guidance for designing consistent, usable and accessible services.

“Together, we can work to build government services that work better for everyone, and especially for disabled people,” he said.

“Implementing the WCAG 2.2 success criteria will greatly improve services, with better interaction methods, more visible keyboard navigation, consistently located help tools and supports that make entering information simpler.”

Components and patterns

The Design System covers components of a web page, patterns to ask users for information and to help them do things, and page patterns.

In addition, services run on third party tools will have meet the WCAG 2.2 level of accessibility as a minimum, Cox said.

He added that the Design System will help teams to save time and effort, draw on best practice in design, learn from other teams, focus on problem solving and feel confident in implementing the GOV.UK brand.

Writing on LinkedIn, director of GDS Tom Read said: "Thousands of government services will require WCAG 2.2 updates in 2024, so we've updated our design system to anticipate the needs of service teams across the UK public sector. The GOV.UK Design System provides teams with accessible code and important guidance for designing consistent, usable, and accessible services in the GOV.UK ecosystem."

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