Deadline for UK Accessibility Laws Is Fast Approaching – Yes it is 23 September!

Tarveen Kaur February 21, 2019
Accessible educational content isn’t just a good idea—in many cases, it’s a legal requirement. In the UK, new accessibility laws were passed that require a wide range of customizable features for learners with both physical and cognitive challenges. The laws include a 2020 deadline for existing public websites, and a 2021 deadline for public sector apps—requiring quick action for any organization that is not already in compliance with the laws. ” If your service isn’t accessible to everyone who needs it, there’s a good chance you’ll be in breach of the new Equality Act 2010. That’s why now is the right time to consider accessibility–before you start designing or building anything new “. Accessibility is not the same thing as assisted digital support, which provides access for users who have difficulty using or getting access to the web; instead, it’s about universally designed websites. It’s not always easy to comply with accessibility laws, as they can be complex; it can be even harder to evaluate existing programs to determine what kinds of accessibility features must be added or tweaked. Magic EdTech is a leader in Digital Accessibility Solutions, and stays on top of international policies and laws, best practices, and technologies. In fact, Magic is known in the industry as a go-to company for the accessibility and mobility needs of those in the education business. Magic’s platform and content teams partner with clients to build the latest industry solutions for digital assessments and successful learning outcomes. Magic provides technology, content services, and digital platforms that make learning accessible, affordable, and measurable. For example, Magic worked with one of the largest K-12 publishers to provide accessibility support for interactives. Technical, editorial, QA  and instructional design experts worked as a seamless team to create a universally accessible site. If you’re considering the creation or distribution of educational materials in the UK, it’s important to understand what’s really required for accessibility. This overview of the new laws will help you determine whether you have the ability to handle accessibility in-house or would be better served by outsourcing to an expert. It’s important to note that non-compliance could result in discrimination claims and negative publicity for your product and organization. Who Is Regulated? It’s not necessarily easy to determine whether your organization is covered under the new regulations—or exactly what kind of files are affected.
  • Regulations apply at some level to most NHS Trusts; these include the majority of government-funded institutions including many universities, schools, and bodies governed by or formed by regional or local authorities.
  • Rules vary depending upon the type of organization, the age, and format of the file, and the type of content included on the website or app.
Rules state that accessibility is a requirement unless it would pose a “disproportionate burden.” Types of Accessibility Required The new regulations state that web content and apps must be perceivable, operable, and understandable for all users regardless of any physical challenges. In other words, challenges with vision, hearing, or physical mobility may not stand in the way of access. Content must also be “robust,” meaning that it must be readable and understandable for users accessing the content through assistive technologies such as screen readers. Websites and apps must also prepare an accessibility statement. The statement is essentially an explanation of why any content is not accessible, whether the content can be found in an accessible form elsewhere, and how to lodge a complaint if content should be accessible but is not. An accessible website or app is designed for everyone. Content and design are clear and simple and are easily accessed by people with visual, motor, cognitive, or hearing challenges.   Do You Need Help with Ensuring Accessibility? Even if your policies require accessibility, there’s a good chance that some pages or elements of your website or app will not meet the new UK requirements. To develop a plan to meet the fast-approaching deadline in 2020, your organization will need to:
  • Evaluate your existing sites and apps to determine which fall under the requirements and which already meet the new requirements
  • Develop a plan for implementing and testing accessibilitywhere necessary
  • Implement the plan and test outcomes appropriately with the involvement of differently-abled users
In addition, digital services must be created with the involvement of individuals with disabilities, meet at least level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and function properly on popular assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnifiers, and speech recognition tools. These requirements are extensive, and to meet them your organization will need a team of specialists. Magic EdTech can bring together the expertise, experience, and knowledge you need to bring your website or app up to the new UK accessibility standards. Choosing Magic EdTech can save you time and money while ensuring that you’re addressing every standard appropriately. Invest in the future with Magic EdTech    

Tarveen Kaur

Accessibility Practice Lead at Magic EdTech, Tarveen is actively engaged in building new class digital accessibility solutions for education.