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Web Accessibility Law – United Kingdom

Legislation in force

The following UK Acts cover all aspects of discrimination, including discrimination in the provision of means of communication or information services:

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The sections of the 1995 Act most relevant to web accessibility are

Part III Access to Goods and Services
Section 19 says in part
19 Discrimination in relation to goods, facilities and services
(1) It is unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person –
(a) in refusing to provide, or deliberately not providing, to the disabled person any service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to members of the public;
(b) in failing to comply with any duty imposed on him by section 21 in circumstances in which the effect of that failure is to make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for the disabled person to make use of any such service;
(c) in the standard of service which he provides to the disabled person or the manner in which he provides it to him; or
(d) in the terms on which he provides a service to the disabled person.

(2) For the purposes of this section and sections 20 and 21 –
(a) the provision of services includes the provision of any goods or facilities;
(b) a person is "a provider of services" if he is concerned with the provision, in the United Kingdom, of services to the public or to a section of the public; and
(c) it is irrelevant whether a service is provided on payment or without payment.

(3) The following are examples of services to which this section and sections 20 and 21 apply –
(a) access to and use of any place which members of the public are permitted to enter;
(b) access to and use of means of communication;
(c) access to and use of information services;

Part IV Education

This section amends the Education Acts of 1993 and 1994 and the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. It requires school and university managements to formulate accessibility policies and to ensure access to facilities and services for students with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination Act 2005

This Act extended the 1995 Act. Section 15C inserts provisions that strengthen the obligations of public sector employers with respect to accessibility.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

This Act amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Section 14 requires schools to draw up and implement a comprehensive accessibility strategy for pupils with special needs and disabilities.

PAS 78

An important official statement of best practice for compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act is the Publicly Available Specification 78 (PAS 78) Guide to good practice in commissioning public websites commissioned by the Disability Rights Commission from the British Standards Institute and published in March 2006.
PAS 78 recommends adherence to WCAG 1.0 and other W3C recommendations (, 7.1.1), the use of CSS to code presentational attributes such as layout, and coding of content using structural languages (7.1.2-4).
Although not a law, PAS 78 represents a formal stage in development of a BSI standard.

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