The internet can provide access to information on an unprecedented scale. Sitting in the comfort of our own homes we can simply press a couple of keys, and hey presto, we have found out about the festival, chosen which performers we want to see and booked the tickets. Fabulously accessible?

Sadly, the reality is less wonderful. In April 2004 the Disability Rights Commission commissioned a survey of a large and representative sample of websites used by the British public, and found that no less than 81% of sites failed to meet the most basic standards in web accessibility.

Where a website is part of the service provision of any organization, the delivery of the service is covered by the Equality Act (Part 3: Services and Public Functions). Where the website itself constitutes the primary medium for delivery of services, it is of the utmost importance that the site is accessible. Therefore, all arts providers should check out their website access, and ensure that any problems are addressed.

In December 2010 BSI launched the first British Standard to address web accessibility and the challenge of digital inclusion.

The standard has been designed to introduce non-technical professionals to improved accessibility, usability and user experience for disabled and older people. It will be especially beneficial to anyone new to this subject as it gives guidance on process, rather than on technical and design issues. BS 8878 is consistent with the Equality Act 2010 and is referenced in the UK government’s e-Accessibility Action Plan as the basis of updated advice on developing accessible online services. It includes recommendations for:

  • Involving disabled people in the development process and using automated tools to assist with accessibility testing
  • The management of the guidance and process for upholding existing accessibility guidelines and specifications.

Find out more from the Access 8878 Website

PAS 78 is also available to purchase from the BSI Shop website in PDF or Hard Copy

Further information


AbilityNet factsheets are written by a specialist team of assessors and accessibility consultants and give detailed information on a wide range of assistive technology, services and related organisations. AbilityNet Fact Sheets


Website access for people with dyslexia: British Dyslexia Association


The eAccessibility Forum brings Government together with industry and the voluntary sector to explore issues of e-accessibility, and to develop and share best practice across all sectors. They have developed the ten principles of inclusive web design: creating beautiful, usable and accessible websites.

Fix the Web

Poor standards of web accessibility mean many disabled people are excluded from using big parts of the internet. Fix the Web is offering a solution! Disabled people report problems in under a minute. Volunteers take these issues forward with website owners: Fix the Web


Website access for people with learning difficulties: Mencap’s website 


Website access for blind and visually impaired people: RNIB Web Access Centre


WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool: WAVE


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0: These guidelines explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for all Web content developers (page authors and site designers) and for developers of authoring tools.

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