The Equality Act (EQA) of 2010
On 1 October 2010, the Equality Act (EQA) became effective in the UK. As part of the ACT, employers, public and private providers of goods and services, health and education providers, housing agencies, and transportation providers are protected against discrimination and victimization. Disabilities, race, religion, age, marriage, sex, sexual orientation, etc., are among the factors considered.
Disability is defined in the Act as being either physically or mentally impaired in a way that has a substantial and long-term negative impact on an individual's ability to engage in their normal daily activities. People with visual, motor, hearing, and cognitive disabilities are covered.
The Equality Act, Part 2, Chapter 2: Prohibited Conduct (Section 20) requires organizations (including online services) to make reasonable adjustments for disabled persons. It mandates organizations to
- take reasonable steps to ensure equal experience and avoid the disadvantage for persons with disabilities in their practice,
- take reasonable steps to avoid the disadvantage for persons with disabilities against persons who are not disabled by fixing physical features that could cause such,
- take reasonable steps to provide an auxiliary aid if, without it, persons with disabilities would be at a disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.
According to Section 20, organizations must take reasonable steps to ensure that information, such as web content, is presented in an accessible manner to people with disabilities.
ISO 30071-1 Digital Accessibility Standard
The 28th of May 2019 saw the release of the ISO 30071-1 international code of practice for creating accessible ICT products and services, which is inspired by the British Standard BS 8878. In addition to superseding BS 8878, the standard offers guidance on how organizations can integrate accessibility considerations into their processes to enhance digital inclusion.
Organizations can integrate accessibility into their software development lifecycle process, into key organizational and technical policies, such as procurement and accessibility risk assessment, by following the standard.
The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018
In addition to existing obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations became law in the UK on 23 September 2018.
Public sector websites (including intranet and extranet websites) and mobile applications must meet certain accessibility standards by being readable, navigable, understandable, and robust. The government will monitor websites that are affected by the accessibility regulation, including all public organizations, those with legal personality, publicly-funded organizations, and those overseen by public entities.
To make web content accessible, public sector bodies are to meet the international standard also adopted by the European Commission. The EU Web Accessibility Directive, also known as EN 301 549 demands the use of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA), and the publication of an accessibility statement, explaining the website or app’s level of accessibility.
What are the Compliance Timelines for UK Accessibility Laws?
The required timelines for compliance, monitoring, and enforcement for public sector agencies are:
- Public sector websites published on or after 23 September 2018 must be compliant by 23 September 2019.
- Websites published before 23 September 2018 must be compliant by 23 September 2020.
- Public sector bodies must ensure their apps are compliant by 23 June 2021.
- Public sector bodies must provide an accessibility statement in accordance with the model accessibility statement (accessibility statement adopted by the European Commission), and regularly review the statement.
The accessibility statement must be published on the website and mobile application in an accessible format and must include an explanation of inaccessible parts, accessible alternatives provided, a contact form for reporting and requesting information, and a link to the enforcement procedure.
What is the Equality Act of 2010?
Established by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Equality Act of 2010 harmonized several discrimination laws in the UK such as Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Race Relations Act of 1976, Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, Equal Pay Act 1970, among others. EQA seeks to advance equality of opportunity in England, Scotland, and Wales