Since 23rd of September 2020 all schools should have implemented the accessibility requirements for public sector body websites, detailed in the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
What are the requirements for?
Simply put, the requirements are there to make sure that your website is accessible for as many people as possible, including those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning difficulties, deafness, or impaired hearing.
If you’ve already worked through and met each and every Principle in the international WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard, then your content will already be considered accessible, but what do you need to ensure you have done if not?
Meeting the requirements
Full guidance on everything you need to put into practice can be found in the Government’s guidance on understanding accessibility requirements for public sector websites and apps, but there are some key highlights:
- Ensure that there are alternatives for non-text content, for example ‘alt text’ descriptions on images
- Provide text transcripts for audio and provide captions for video
- Make sure your content is structured logically and can be navigated by a screen reader
- Use text colours that can be read clearly against the background colour
- Ensure your content is easy to read and in ‘plain English’, with short sentences
- Make sure every feature can be used at increased font sizes up to 200% and ensure that text flows into a single column when it’s increased by 400%
- Ensure your website design isn’t restricted to a specific display orientation, e.g. landscape – a responsive website should ensure that this isn’t the case
What else do you need to be aware of?
Primary and secondary schools, plus nurseries are partially exempt from the accessibility guidelines, so there are some things you might not need to fix, including:
- Pre-recorded video recorded audio and video published before 23 September 2020
- Live audio and video
- PDFs or other documents published before September 2020 – unless users need them to use a service, for example a form that lets you request school meal preferences
- Maps – but you’ll need to provide essential information in an accessible format, such as an address
- Third party content that’s under someone else’s control if you did not pay for it or develop it yourself
Full guidance on exemptions can be found under the Government’s guidelines.
What about an accessibility statement?
An accessibility statement is an essential for partially exempt organisations and handily there is a sample accessibility statement within the guidance, which you can copy and complete for your school’s website.