[Republished] Website Accessibility Guidelines/PAS 78 Debate
This article was originally two separate articles: "BSI Website Accessibility Guidelines" (8th March, 2006) and "PAS 78: Discussion and debate since launch" (23rd March, 2006) which followed on in response to the earlier article.
BSI Website Accessibility Guidelines
If you are an organisation with a "public-facing" website, then you need to be aware of the new BSI guidelines on maintaining accessible websites.
The guidelines, called "PAS 78", were created in conjunction with the DRC following their report into the accessibility of UK websites, 80% of which were found to contain barriers to access.
PAS 78: Discussion and debate since launch
A commenter on the [original] post, pointed me to a long debate about the fact that "PAS 78" is not free, but will cost you £30 +VAT (total: £35.25).
Some people think this will impede uptake and discussion of "PAS 78" when compared to the widely available US "Section 508" guidelines.
I'm not so sure, though; many industries have had to purchase far more expensive tomes from the BSI as a legal requirement and another £35 isn't going to hurt much. As for web design companies, the cost is no different to many of the technical books we buy. It's not even that much for a charity, providing they only have to pay for one copy...
Which brings us to the real problem of having to buy the guidelines: the issue of copyright restrictions. How can we effectively discuss the guidelines and how best to apply them if they are not publicly available? If I purchase the guidelines as a web designer, can I then apply their advice to all my client's projects or, do I have to buy a new set of guidelines for each client? Surely, it should be the former, because only I am using them - my clients don't know, or even want to know, they leave it to me as the designer (I'm probably very lucky in that respect).
We shall see though, maybe the BSI won't be Draconian on that issue and will have flexible licensing arrangements where needed.
This article was first written and published: 8th & 23rd March, 2006.
It may now be horribly, and embarrassingly, out-of-date.