It isn’t just web pages that are required to meet accessibility standards and laws. All applications have to. This short article is a reminder to application designers and builders regarding the standards and legal obligations they have to meet.
Most web designers are well aware of the need to design with accessibility in mind and that this is a legal requirement in many countries. Not so many IT architects and designers who deal with internal, enterprise systems are aware, though, that these laws and requirements also apply to internal systems.
Recently I’ve yet again seen a number of dreadfully designed user interfaces (UI) for enterprise systems that most certainly don’t meet usability standards let alone accessibility standards!
So here are a few links to information on standards and laws around accessibility – while most of these seem to be focused on web systems, lets remember that they do apply to internal and enterprise systems as well.
- Wikipedia: Web Accessibility
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) (from the web’s standards body)
- UK Central Office of Information (COI): Web Standards and Guidelines for UK government web sites
- There is also a British Standard for web accessibility BS8878. However, ridiculously, the British Standards Institute charge £100 for it! SO I won’t link to it but there are some web resources that summarise it, as always Google is your friend.
- Accessible Technology A guide for IT professionals (PDF) The key regulations for UK organisations are:
- Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 & 2005
- Equality Act 2010 (supersedes the DDA)
One final note about designing to accessibility standards. Plenty has already been written on this subject and I don’t want to repeat that. Just to say that it is normal for web sites to be asked to meet W3C WCAG 2.0 level Double-A (AA) standards. However, you should not try to slavishly follow these standards. There are lots of grey areas. In particular, if you are using the online web validation tools, don’t worry too much if you get some minor failures. You need to test failing pages against accessibility devices rather than blindly following some written rules.
Minor update 2018-04-28 Reformat after move from WordPress to Hugo.