Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations

New regulations on accessibility have been published but do not have effect until September

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations (SI 2018/852) have been published and have effect from 23 September 2018. They transpose Directive 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies.

The objective of the Directive is the establishment of a harmonised market for the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites and mobile applications. The Directive aims to make websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies more accessible to users, particularly persons with disabilities.  According to the Explanatory Note to the Regulations:

  • Part 1 establishes what the Directive applies to, and lists the types of public sector bodies and content that are exempt from the Directive.
  • Part 2 imposes an obligation on a public sector body to make its websites and mobile applications more accessible, to the extent that this does not impose a disproportionate burden. It also contains a further obligation for a public sector body to publish an accessibility statement on compliance with the accessibility requirement, and keep that statement under regular review. It also sets out the requirement for a public sector body to make a disproportionate burden assessment, and specifies the type of factors that must be taken into account when making such an assessment.
  • Part 3 sets out the standards that a public sector body’s website or mobile application must meet to be presumed to be in conformity with the accessibility requirement.
  • Part 4 establishes the requirements for monitoring public sector bodies’ compliance with the accessibility requirement, and for reporting back to the European Commission on these findings.
  • Part 5 establishes the relevant enforcement bodies, and sets out the framework for enforcement, including the procedure for assessing accessibility statements.
  • The Schedule lists the specific requirements for the Minister for the Cabinet Office’s report to the European Commission on the outcome of the monitoring.

It must however be pointed out that the list of exemptions, which is surprisingly wide, and the long lead times for some obligations hardly chimes well with the stated purpose of the Directive. For example, the basic compliance obligation does not bite until as late as June 2021 in some cases (reg 4(c)) and a public sector body need not comply with the accessibility requirement ‘if doing so would impose a disproportionate burden on the public sector body’ (reg 6(1)). 

A darkly humorous note is provided by reg 9(2), which requires that ‘no later than 23rd December 2021, and every three years thereafter, the Minister for the Cabinet Office must submit a report to the European Commission on the outcome of the monitoring [reg 9(1)]’.

Published: 2018-07-18T10:50:00

    0 comments

      This site uses cookies. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

      Please wait...