All public sector websites MUST be accessible by 2020

James explains the law which will mean every public sector website and application will need to be accessible

Since 26 October 2016, there has been an EU Directive regarding the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies. The UK Government is now holding a consultation on this law which closes on 28 May 2018. From then, it will be implemented into UK law this year.


Research by the UK Employers Forum on Disability stated that 71% of people with an impairment use the web to access goods or services. This is on a constant increase and calls for the public sector to become accessible have been listened to.

As part of the increased need for accessibility, as of 23 September 2020, all public sector websites published before 23 September 2018 will need to be accessible and meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) accessibility standards at level AA. The Government intends to implement the rules in UK law by passing regulations which will ensure public sector bodies make their websites and apps accessible.

In this blog, we explain, based on our understanding of the current versions of the Directive, what you need to consider and why.

Why is this important?

1 in 5 members of the public in the UK have a disability, ranging from visual impairments to learning difficulties, all of which prevent the access of websites in the conventional ways. This means there WILL be a person struggling to access your website in your local area if your website is not already accessible.

Web accessibility means that websites, tools and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. Specifically, that people can: perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the website/tool/technology.

If you think your website or apps are not allowing people to access them correctly or are difficult to navigate for the impaired users, then you’ve got some work to do!

What does that mean for me?

With few exemptions, if you work for a public sector organisation (councils, colleges, schools, the NHS, a fire service, police service, etc) then these regulations will affect your compliance. You will also need to set out an accessibility statement which sets out your commitment to accessibility and the expectations in place to provide an accessible service.

From the consultation taking place, it could be decided that fines and sanctions will also be placed on public sector organisations to ensure compliancy.

The deadlines explained:

You have three things to consider:

Websites produced before 23rd September 2018

Everything on your website published before this date will need to be compliant by 23 September 2020.

Websites produced on/after 23rd September 2018

Your cause for concern lies here as anything produced will have a shorter period for implementation and must be compliant by 23 September 2019.

Mobile Applications

All must be compliant by 21 June 2021.

I didn’t know about this…what can I do?

Firstly, if this has all come as a bit of a shock to you – don’t panic. Yes, the reality is that the Web Accessibility Directive is on its way and it isn’t hanging about! As more of our public services move online, digital inclusion has become more important than ever – inadequate web accessibility will no longer be an option. So, if you need help, give us a call and we’ll help you get to the right Accessibility Standard.

If you need help to make your public sector organisation accessible, get in touch or give us a call on 0115 888 2828

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