BS 8878 2010 Web Accessibility Code Of Practice British Standard

BS 8878PAS 78 is now BS 8878). The web accessibility code of practice via BSI (Building accessible experiences for disabled people) is NOW AVAILABLE and it should be interesting reading for all those who want to build their websites so the majority of people can access them:

BS 8878 Web accessibility. Building accessible experiences for disabled people. Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable websites to their customers. BS 8878 has been designed to introduce accessibility, usability and user experience for disabled people to non-technical professionals, some of whom may be completely new to this subject.

It gives guidance on process, rather than on technical and design issues, including recommendations for:

  • involving disabled people in the development process
  • using automated web accessibility tools to assist with accessibility testing
  • the management of the guidance and process for upholding existing accessibility guidelines and specifications.

The new British Standard BS8878 for accessible websites is based on PAS 78 and is due out late 2009. Any time soon hopefully!

Of course, accessible website design begins with validation – you can validate your html and validate your css using W3C tools and we have a selection of links to the best website accessibility tools.

With any web accessibility guidelines, I like to cut through the soup and see what the folks at Accessify Forum think of each implementation – there’s a lot of passionate accessibility folk who hang out there who are only to ready to help with useful accessibility tips. Check it out.

I do wish the folks responsible for making these documents are available would stop shunting this stuff about. Over the years they don’t even bother redirecting users to where the new files are kept or even leaving a link to the new location – sometimes you need to be a SEO to find the flaming documents. Hows that for accessibility? Whatever happened to cool URI don’t change?

For web developers and those resposible for procuring an accessible website, it’s considered by some on the know that WCAG 2.0 level Double-A (AA) is a solid technical foundation to base a website on, but you are also going to have to test your website with USERS before you can say your site is accessible.

It’s worth noting that it’s still, in late 2009, practically impossible to design a site that will comply with the UK DDA as the UK DDA does not refer to WCAG and it does not lay down a specific level of accessibility for all websites. The purpose of the UK DDA is to legislate against unreasonable discrimination, and to require reasonable adjustments in cases where discrimination occurs for those accessing websites – but that discrimination would obviously have to be determined by a court, and that hasn’t happened in the UK to my knowledge. Of course, building your website to standards like WCAG shows at least you are attempting to make your websites accessible on some some level.

Actionable Tips

  • Build your website to W3C WCAG 2.0 level Double-A (AA)
  • Validate Your HTML & CSS
  • Make it simple for visitors to your website to contact you
  • Make reasonable changes to your website if asked to by someone who has difficulty accessing the information on it
  • Have a culture of inclusiveness in your whole organisation!
  • Learn more about web accessibility because this article is opinion and clearly NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

Contents of BS 8878 2010 contain:

  • Scope
  • Normative references
  • Terms, definitions and abbreviations
  • Embedding web accessibility within an organization – Responsibilities and documentation
  • Claims of conformity with BS 8878
  • Setting web accessibility responsibility and policy for the organization
  • Definition of an organizational web accessibility policy
  • Creating accessibility policies and statements for each web product
  • Definition of a web product’s accessibility policy
  • Definition of a web product’s accessibility statement
  • How to make justifiable decisions on accessibility options at each step
  • The process for creating accessible web products
  • Step 1: define the purpose of the web product
  • Step 2: define the target audiences for the web product
  • Step 3: analyse the needs of the target audiences for the web product
  • Step 4: note any platform or technology preferences and restrictions of the web product’s target audiences
  • Step 5: define the relationship the product will have with its target audiences
  • Step 6: define the user goals and tasks the web product needs to provide
  • Step 7: consider the degree of user-experience the web product will aim to provide
  • Step 8: consider inclusive design and user-personalized approaches to accessibility
  • Step 9: choose the delivery platforms to support
  • Step 10: choose the target browsers, operating systems and assistive technologies to support
  • Step 11: choose whether to create or procure the web product in-house or contract out externally
  • Step 12: define the web technologies to be used in the web product
  • Step 13: use web guidelines to direct accessible web production
  • Step 14: assure the web product’s accessibility through production
  • Step 15: communicate the web product’s accessibility decisions at launch
  • Step 16: plan to assure accessibility in all post-launch updates to the product
  • Using web accessibility guidelines to direct the production of accessible web products
  • Inclusive design guidelines
  • Personalization guidelines: for individualized web product adaptability
  • Accessibility guidelines for web products on non computer platforms
  • Guidelines for accessible web design for older people
  • Assuring accessibility throughout a web product’s lifecycle
  • Summary of approach
  • Gathering requirements from disabled users
  • Creating an accessibility test plan
  • Accessibility testing methods
  • Post-launch programme of accessibility testing
  • Terms, definitions and abbreviations
  • Disability and the law
  • Business case for making web products accessible
  • Examples of a web accessibility policy and web accessibility statement
  • Allocation of responsibilities
  • The accessibility challenges of different types of web product
  • How disabled and older people experience web products
  • Examples of web product purposes, audiences, user goals, user tasks and degrees of user-experience for those tasks
  • Measuring user success
  • The user-personalized approach to accessibility
  • Procurement of authoring tools, software, components or web-services
  • A guide to dealing with correspondence and complaints about a web product’s accessibility
  • Suggested user profiles
  • A guide to user testing with disabled and older people
  • List of figures
  • Architecture for user-personalized accessibility
  • Decision process for software selection

I was into web accessibility before seo and I still think every web designer should at least try and make their sites a bit more accessible, ESPECIALLY if asked….. – here’s a press release I received today:

BSI is inviting all interested parties, and in particular website owners, web product managers, web procurement managers, usability and accessibility specialists, marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Code of Practice

There are three main drivers for organizations to take steps to make their web products more accessible and usable:

  1. Commercial reasons, notably opening up web products to a wider audience:
  • More than 11 million people are protected by the UK’s disability discrimination law, according to the Department of Work and Pensions. Separate research by the Government’s Office for Disability Issues suggests that 15% of disabled people have hearing difficulties and 12% have visual impairments, and many others have physical or cognitive impairments which may impact on their use of web products.
  • Many elderly people, while not legally considered disabled, are also affected by the multiple minor impairments of ageing.
  • There are also many other non-disabled people who could benefit from more accessible web products including, people with a low reading age, and people who momentarily do not have use of one of their senses due to illness or because they need that sense to do something else at the same time
  1. Ethical reasons:
  • The Digital Britain report details the many benefits that modern digital technologies can bring. Many organizations want to ensure that disabled and elderly people are not excluded from these benefits, and are able to use new technologies to increase their ability to live independently, and to be fully engaged members of society.
  1. Legal reasons:
  • If an organization’s web product is not accessible to a disabled person, that person may have grounds for making a claim against the organization under the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Many web products unwittingly and unlawfully exclude disabled and elderly people; yet in most cases the barriers these web products present can be removed.

This draft British Standard explains how to create organizational policies and production processes to identify and remove such barriers.

DPC BS 8878 was originally issued in December 2008 and attracted an unprecedented amount of interest. After due consideration of the feedback, and taking into account recent changes in legislation and advances in technology, BSI is now able to provide an enhanced draft which is extensively restructured, and contains additional guidance material on topics such as:

  • The Equality Act 2010
  • The relationship between inclusive design and user-personalised approaches to accessibility, including whether to provide additional accessibility provisions
  • Creating accessible web products for computer, mobile and IPTV platforms
  • How to procure accessible web products
  • How to assure a product’s accessibility throughout the production process, including the value and costs of different forms of accessibility testing
  • Dealing with feedback and complaints on accessibility from users

DPC BS 8878 can be viewed at until 30 June 2010.  All comments will be considered by the BSI technical committee responsible for drafting the standard.

Mike Low, BSI Director, Standards commented,

”Accessibility is an essential aspect of modern web production. The new UK Equality Act continues the legal imperative for websites to make reasonable steps to include the needs of disabled people. Moreover, Digital Britain initiatives to encourage more elderly people online pose both an opportunity and challenge for site owners in creating sites which are usable by a broader range of people than ever before.

Jonathan Hassell, of the BBC, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878,commented,

“Site owners urgently need an end-to-end guide to help them to ensure their products consider the needs of disabled and elderly people at all stages of the web production process, from initial requirements gathering, through selection of technologies and platforms, testing, launch and maintenance.

BS8878 is that guide. It’s designed to be a real-world standard, talking about real-world issues, experienced by real users, wanting to use real up-to-date web 2.0 products. It’s designed for real web product managers and production staff dealing with the real decisions they need to make every day which will affect whether or not their products will include or exclude disabled and elderly people.

This Draft for Public Consultation is a chance for people to tell us whether our drafting committee have got the content and style of the standard right and both given them an idea of the breadth of the parts of their production process that accessibility issues impact, and also demystified accessibility so they feel confident they know how to proceed.”,”
About BSI

BSI is a global independent business services organization that inspires confidence and delivers assurance to over 80,000 customers with standards-based solutions. Originating as the world’s first national standards body, BSI has over 2,400 staff operating in over 120 countries through more than 50 global offices. BSI’s key offerings are:

  • The development and sale of private, national and international standards and supporting information that promote and share best practice
  • Second and third-party management systems assessment and certification in all critical areas of management disciplines
  • Testing and certification of services and products for Kitemark and CE marking to UK, European and International standards. BSI is a Notified Body for 17 New Approach EU Directives
  • Certification of high-risk, complex medical devices
  • Performance management software solutions
  • Training services in support of standards implementation and business best practice.

For further information please visit

Other Reading

If you want to procure, or design and build sites with accessibility in mind in the UK, you’ll find the following documents useful:

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5 Responses

  1. Tom Bathgate says:

    Some great information here and the links to best website accessibility tools is a good bookmark to have. I welcome the standard being brought in I think anything that can help to make the internet accessible to everyone is a good thing! Keep up the good work! T

  2. Alex says:

    That’ll become a buzz phrase for a while with customers reading something about it and saying “Make sure my site passes British Standard BS8878 for accessible websites”… ok bit of a mouthful, maybe not such a buzz phrase after all!!

  3. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    @Alex, I’m not sure about that. EVERYBODY I have ever pitched to hadn’t even’t heard of PAS 78 (which is useful in a pitch ;) ) AND, I think the onus is on the procurment officer/client to say, as you say, build me a site that ‘complies’ with British Standard BS8878 for a web design company to actually build a site that will comply with the British Standard. I’ll be keeping an eye on Accessify Forum for more information. @Tom Remember and Delicious It! :p

  4. Paul Allen says:

    Cheers Shaun, good, useful advice again. This might be a pain initially, but it should keep dodgy website designers out of work! Anything that raises the standard of design is good in my book. Paul

  5. alan anderson says:

    I have a love for standard compliant web design and part of my pitch so to speak when I see a client is “do you discriminate against your customers who come into your shop/office etc” which always provokes a response of NO, my response is simple, “they why do it online?” before I sign them up to a standard compliant web redesign. Never referred to it as PAS 78 or British Standard BS8878 because I have a strong belief in the plain English principle as well but it might be nice to start throwing that bad boy into my pitches or quotes. Thanks for this post!

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