At the launch event this morning, Jonathan Hassell (Committee Chair BSI IST/45), introduced a series of presentations on the development, content and use of the new standard.
The standard replaces the somewhat outdated PAS 78:2006 Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites, and provides a practical 21st century view of accessibility addressing a wider view of the web, varied delivery and consumption mechanisms, the rise of user-generated content, use by older people, and the increasing use of off-the-shelf services, frameworks and components. It is not a technical standard, but instead describes an approach to addressing web accessibility through the development lifecycle from commissioning through to operation—building accessibility in to the organisation as it were.
The fundamental driver for the standard in the UK are the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now Northern Ireland only) and the Equality Act 2010 (rest of the UK), which came into force in October and describes how organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments, but not anything that would fundamentally alter the nature of the "service". The standard uses the interesting term "web products" to include workplace applications, widgets, RIAs, SaaS and mobile apps, as well as web sites.
The standard describes 16 steps, from Step 1 - Define the Purpose of the Web Product, through to Step 16 - Plan to Assure Accessibility in All Post-Launch Updates to the Product. But the appendices, that account for more than half the document, provide some very useful supporting material. I suspect these partially came about from the large number of responses received to the consultations, and from the extensive experience of the committee members. The appendices include information on the legal requirements (UK), making a business case, example policy wordings, how to allocate responsibilities, metrics, procurement advice and information of a more technical nature for production & operational teams.
Do you need to read this? If your organisation is established in Great Britain, yes, and then even if you are not subject to the Equality Act but are looking for good web accessibility practices, yes too. Then act on it.
Posted on: 07 December 2010 at 15:27 hrs