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Public Sector Websites WCAG 2.2 Compliance

If you work within the public sector, you will be aware that the UK Government has guidelines on the level of accessibility that Public Sector websites should achieve. Adhering to governmental guidelines for website accessibility isn’t just recommended—it’s imperative. These standards ensure that all users, regardless of ability, have equitable access to digital resources. Two critical considerations emerge when aiming for this inclusivity: deciding the optimal timing for an accessibility audit and understanding the scope of such an audit.

Optimal Timing for Website Accessibility Audits

A recent survey we conducted sheds light on industry perspectives regarding the ideal stage for integrating accessibility considerations into website development. Querying professionals on when accessibility should be prioritised, the responses from 143 participants were enlightening:

  • Design Stage: 97%
  • Build Stage: 2%
  • Testing Stage: 0%
  • Post Launch: 1%

Despite this overwhelming consensus favouring early integration of accessibility considerations, our experience tells a different story. Among the multitude of public sector websites we've audited, nearly all sought our expertise only on the brink of launching. In one notable instance, our pre-launch audit identified critical accessibility issues, resulting in a launch delay to address these concerns effectively. The site ultimately met the necessary standards, but this scenario underscores a prevalent oversight in the sector.

Regrettably, most sites come to us with already drafted accessibility statements outlining known issues but lack the budget for remediation. While we offer alternative solutions for accessing information, these are merely stopgaps. Early involvement, as the survey suggests, would enable us to ensure higher accessibility standards from the outset, without imposing additional costs on our clients.

What should be audited?

The UK Government currently advocates for public websites to achieve WCAG 2.1 AA Level Accessibility. Yet, compliance with these standards doesn’t necessarily guarantee accessibility. Our audit process extends beyond the basics, employing both automated metrics and thorough evaluations by our team of disabled auditors. This dual approach not only adheres to WCAG guidelines but also addresses the nuanced ways in which users interact with digital content.

Our audits offer a comprehensive review, including live feedback, to ensure your website is truly accessible to all users. By going beyond the minimum requirements, we aim to identify and rectify any barriers that could hinder the user experience for individuals with disabilities. 

The Way Forward

The disparity between the ideal timing for considering website accessibility and the reality of when audits are conducted reveals a significant gap in the public sector’s approach to digital inclusivity. Our findings advocate for a paradigm shift towards early and ongoing accessibility considerations throughout the website development lifecycle.

Incorporating accessibility from the design phase not only aligns with best practices but also represents a cost-effective strategy to prevent the need for later modifications. Our extensive auditing process, which includes the invaluable perspectives of disabled auditors, ensures that public sector websites are not just compliant but genuinely accessible and user-friendly.

Why not give us a call?

For public sector organisations looking to enhance their digital accessibility, embracing early and comprehensive audits is a crucial step toward achieving a more inclusive digital environment for all users. Regardless of what stage your website build is, if you would like to find out how we could assist you with a website accessibility audit, please do phone us on 01243-767399 or follow this link to email us.