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Jonathan Hassell: Accessibility Guidelines in the UK
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Jonathan Hassell: Accessibility Guidelines in the UK



Jonathan Hassell (British Broadcasting Corporation, British Standards Committee on Web Accessibility IST/45) talked at the European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt (http://eafra.eu), 27 March 2009.

Jonathan Hassell (British Broadcasting Corporation, British Standards Committee on Web Accessibility IST/45) talked at the European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt (http://eafra.eu), 27 March 2009.



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  • Dr. Jonathan Hassell: Web Accessibility Guidelines in the UK from namics on Vimeo. Also available dubbed in German.

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Jonathan Hassell: Accessibility Guidelines in the UK Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Jonathan Hassell Acting Chair, BSi IST/45 European Accessibility Summit, Frankfurt am Main 27 th March 2009 British Accessibility Standards - PAS-78 to BS8878
  • 2. What are the British doing and why?
    • why did we need a British Standard?
      • because we have British law around accessibility
        • and not just for public-sector websites, all sites…
      • in 2005, research by the British Disability Rights Commission revealed sites weren’t doing well
      • and no existing standards made it easy enough for site owners to know what to do
      • so the DRC commissioned BSi to create PAS-78 to try and help
  • 3. Aims of PAS-78
      • to give a guide to the whole process of commissioning, producing and maintaining a website from a site owner’s point of view
      • to not replace other standards , but to provide a non-technical person’s guide to how those standards should be used to help ensure a development project results in an accessible product
      • it focuses on, advising site owners on:
        • a quick background in disabled people’s use of the web ;
        • how to create an accessibility policy for the creation of their site
        • what to look for if they are contracting the work out to a supplier
        • how to choose technologies to uphold that policy (making much reference to WAI)
        • how to test the resulting site against that policy – are best-efforts enough cf guidelines, or does it actually have to work with users?
  • 4. Drivers to bring PAS-78 up to date…
      • Web 2.0’s much wider purposes for websites, including:
        • the move from informative web content to:
          • web as tools ( “Software as a Service” )
          • web as rich/media-media entertainment (games, IPTV, eLearning etc.)
        • the move from Provider-Produced content to User-Generated content (blogs, Facebook etc.)
      • the increasing use of non-W3C technologies
      • the use of “off the shelf” tools rather than bespoke development
  • 5. BS8878 – progress and debate
      • work began early 2008
      • a first draft was created by end Nov 2008 (before WCAG 2 was confirmed)
        • NB. the final version is very likely to use WCAG 2 as the base of its technical guidelines
      • there were some things which were maybe a bit premature in the first draft
      • however, the comments on the draft have been very illuminating on its future direction
      • many of the comments completely disagree with each other on many fundamental issues
      • it’s already obvious that our standard, like many out there, cannot please everyone
      • so we are discussing…
  • 6. The big issues we’ve found (cf. today)
      • whether accessibility is about disabled people or more than that
        • are we talking about accessibility to users, devices or browsers?
        • if users: whether we are aiming for “access for all”, access for targeted groups of disabled users, or should include the needs of elderly people
      • whether the level of access to aim for should be accessibility, usability, or even user-experience
      • whether the standard should dictate a level of conformance …
        • or be a best practice guide stating a number of levels which could be aimed for and the implications of selecting each level
      • what the best way of testing is: how well automated or manual checklist testing based on a standard (like WCAG 2), or task-based user testing with disabled people, can capture barriers for disabled people
      • how to avoid being too constraining about technology use
      • when we should encourage best practice in interfacing with assistive technologies and when to encourage sites to provide accessibility features or preferences themselves (personalisation)
      • how much to include guidance on authoring tools (cf. ATAG)
  • 7. Thanks Happy to chat later… [email_address]