PAS 78



BS 8878PAS 78 is now BS 8878).

This publication provides guidance to organisations in how to go about commissioning an accessible website from a design agency. It describes what is expected from websites to comply with the UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), making websites accessible to and usable by disabled people.

Download FREE:

  • PAS78 (pdf)
  • PAS78 (Word)
  • PAS78 (rtf)

More recently the UK Government issued a consultation document on Delivering Inclusive Websites to ‘improve’ commissioning a new website.

  • Delivering inclusive websites (PDF) [PDF, 210KB]
  • Delivering inclusive websites (Word) [MS Word, 353KB]

PAS 78

PAS 78: Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites.

Originally, the title was ‘Guide to good practice in the design of accessible websites’. After the first Steering Group meeting it was decided to change the focus to ‘commissioning’ rather than ‘design’. In April 2004, the DRC published the report of their Formal Investigation into accessible website design / web accessibility in the UK.

One significant finding was that 81 per cent of websites surveyed failed to uphold the most basic W3C accessibility guidelines and specifications, even though many website commissioners and developers claimed to be aware of the importance of making websites accessible. The DRC has concluded that there is a need for best practice guidance on the
process of commissioning accessible websites.

PAS78 has been commissioned to provide guidance to website
commissioners on:

  • the steps that should be taken to commission accessible websites
  • the W3C guidelines and specifications to be adopted
  • the role of the guidelines and specifications, software tools and user testing within the development life cycle.

The purpose of the PAS 78 is to meet the needs of website commissioners, not website designers.

PAS 78 is not ‘rules’, is not ‘new web design guidelines’ and is not ‘the law’.

PAS 78 is to help site commissioners (those that procure web design services via a website tender submission process, for instance) to ensure that they are able to commission accessible sites. It is intended to be a document that commissioners can understand and can discuss with web design project managers. For example, heavy reference is made to WAI guidelines, usability testing, automated checking tools, etc.

PAS 78 was published in March 2006.

The process is dictated by BSI. Standards documents follow a strict schedule and PAS 78 is no different.

Basics of PAS 78

  • PAS 78 is NOT a consensus document (i.e. not all steering group members must agree on the content… this is very significant, actually…)
  • PAS 78 will last not more than 2 YEARS before review
  • the audience of PAS 78 will be website COMMISSIONERS. It is not a document for web designers (important).

PAS 78 is a ‘work in progress’. It could mature into a British Standard.

PAS 78 a DRC-commissioned document, written by a Steering Panel, reviewed by a Review Panel and valid for not more than 2 years after publication, though it does have the potential to be further developed into a British Standard. BSI holds the copyright of the document.

Scope of PAS 78

This Publicly Available Specification outlines good practice in commissioning website designs that are accessible to and usable by disabled people. It gives recommendations for:

  • the management of the process of, and guidance on, upholding existing W3C guidelines and specifications;
  • involving disabled people in the development process and using the current software-based compliance testing tools that can assist with this.

It is applicable to all public and private organizations that wish to observe good practice under the existing voluntary guidelines and the relevant legislation on this subject and is intended for use by those responsible for commissioning public-facing website designs and web-based services.

Choosing A Website Designer

It is not possible to provide a definitive specification for a fully accessible
website which will satisfy the requirements of the DDA and PAS 78 does not try to expand on this further. Website commissioners should therefore be sceptical if contracting companies declare that they will create websites that are ‘DDA-compliant’ or ‘compliant with the law’.

Conversely, website commissioners should not require a web designer to
design a website that is ‘DDA-compliant’ or ‘compliant with the law’. Until case law has been established such claims cannot be made or honoured.

There is currently no nationally recognized system of accreditation for website developers who claim to create accessible websites that uphold W3C guidelines and specifications. Website commissioners should therefore perform their own reference checks until they are satisfied that the website development contractor has competence and experience in developing accessible websites that uphold W3C guidelines and specifications. Checks should include:

  • a review of previous work
  • references from previous clients
  • a practical knowledge of PAS 78
  • a practical knowledge of W3C guidelines and specifications
  • an appreciation of the implications of “The Disability Discrimination Code of Practice (Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises)” 2002 edition
  • familiarity with assistive technologies.

Call for Tenders / Website Design / CMS / Projects

Hobo is more than happy to submit Tender / Website Specification Documents / or costings for any website design / CMS project you may have for your company or agency. Our award winning developers have built websites for many Scottish Colleges, Universities, the NHS and other public and private sector organisations.

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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