Monday, 6 December 2010

Web accessibility – Code of practice

BSi have just released a new British Standard, BS 8878:2010 Web accessibility – Code of practice. First things first, this is not another set of web accessibility guidelines. This document is meant to complement existing guidelines such as WCAG and provide a framework for companies to implement accessible web products. It recognises that accessibility goes well beyond HTML tags and requires the right processes to be in place in the organisation, from planning for accessibility to delivering and testing it. To quote from the standard itself:

This British Standard sets a standard for the quality of the process of creating accessible web products, rather than a standard for the quality of accessibility of web products resulting from it.

I've only had time to quickly browse through it and I'll do a more thorough write-up when I can. First impressions are very good and it's no surprise considering that AbilityNet, who are one of the most knowledgeable organisations on the subject, made significant contributions to it. The document is clearly and concisely written, there's no jargon unless absolutely necessary and it includes an awful lot of useful information, such as how to build a business case for accessibility, what processes to put in place to deliver it, how to make justifiable decisions on accessibility, write an accessibility policy, etc. It is also very pragmatic and concentrates on the ultimate goal, delivering accessibility efficiently, rather than on specific processes and guidelines.

So if you're about to start a new web project, grab a copy of BS 8878 and ensure that what you deliver is accessible to all: there is no excuse!