Work begins on British Standard for website accessibility

Work has begun on the development of a full British Standard for developing accessible websites.

Work has begun on the development of a full British Standard for developing accessible websites.

According to E-Access Bulletin, the free e-mail newsletter on access to technology by people with disabilities, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has assembled a technical committee to oversee the development of a full standard.

Julie Howell, former RNIB digital access campaigner and currently head of accessibility at the digital agency Fortune Cookie, is the chair elect. Other committee members are likely to come from organisations such as the British Computer Society, the Cabinet Office, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The BSi has already published a PAS (publicly available specification) 78 - "A guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites", and this has been downloaded 54,000 times.

The new standard will not set out the technical requirements of accessibility, but will outline a process developers can follow to ensure they are making their websites and services inclusive.

The standard will include the need for user testing of websites by disabled people, and the need for organisations to produce an accessibility policy.

The standard is likely to be published in the first quarter of 2009, Howell says, and the committee IST/45 could eventually produce other work such as leaflets and training materials.

Howell said, "We have all agreed this has to be fast - I do not want it to be so collaborative and consultative that it takes a decade."

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