Once an organization has recognised the importance of Web accessibility the first question that will be asked is how do we commission an accessible web environment. Since 2006 the most effective answer has been to read and implement the guidance in the BSI document 'PAS 78 - Guide to good practise in commissioning accessible web sites'. Obviously over the years this document has become dated and does not reflect the latest thinking on the subject, nor does it refer to the latest standards and legislation. So I am delighted that it is going to be replaced by the BSI Standard 'BS8878:2010 Web Accessibility - Code of Practice'.
The final draft of BS8878 is out for comment until the end of June. I would urge all my readers to review the draft and add their comments. Having a single publicly accepted code of practice should greatly simplify the commissioning and development of web products (the term 'web product' is used in the standard to include a website, web-service, or web/workplace application which is delivered through a browser). The code of practice will enable clear discussions between the various parties involved in implementing a web product, including the commissioning organisation, the designers, the developers, the tool providers, users and the hosting organisation. To ensure that code enables these discussions it is important that the draft is reviewed by as many representatives of each of these groups.
It gives recommendations for:
- How organizations should ensure accessibility is considered in their web strategy by creating an organizational web accessibility policy, and assigning a role to be responsible for ensuring that all their web products and services are produced in accordance with this policy.
- How to embed the consideration of accessibility decisions through the entire process of producing web products, and document and justify these choices in the product's accessibility policy.
- How to consider the impact of the purpose of the product, its target audience and their needs, the product's choice of platform and technology, and whether to adopt an inclusive design approach or one which also includes an element of user-personalization.
- How to use web accessibility guidelines in the process of producing accessible web products rather than duplicating, contradicting, or replacing them.
- How to assure web accessibility throughout a web product's lifecycle, by considered use of various research and testing methodologies (including the involvement of disabled people) at key points in the production process.
Let us make this new code of practice a world leader by reviewing and commenting on it.
I must apologise to my readers for only bringing this draft to their attention now, even though it was made available earlier in May. Unfortunately I have been unwell and am just starting to recuperate and I have just started to come back on-line. I look forward to being much more active from now on and hope to see many of you at e-Access 10 on 13 July.