Just announced: Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility agree to merge! Read more.

The British Standards Institution is set to release standard BSI 8868 later this month. This web accessibility standard addresses accessibility and enjoyability of websites by people with disabilities and the elderly. The published standard is going to be launched via an event on December 7th, 2010.

The standard does not recreate guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 but instead provides a reference to guidelines such as WCAG for non-technical people such as managers, human resources or public relations staff. It also aims to alert organizations to the legal and voluntary requirements in for web accessibility. The UK’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995 (which is now replaced by the Equality Act of 2010) sets forth these requirements for equal and treatment in public and private services.

The BSI 8878 Web Accessibility expands on the publicly available 2006 specification by the BSI and the Disability Rights Commission, ‘Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites’ (PAS 78:2006). PSA 78 will be withdrawn once BSI 8878 is formally published.

The standard strives to facilitate the creation of fully accessible web services that will enable organizations to reach a wide community of potential users and assist in compliance with parts of the Equality Act of 2010. It was designed to introduce accessibility, universal design and user experience for people with disabilities to non-technical people. It is not a specification but instead provides guidance and recommendations on process, rather than on specific technical requirements.

Some of the topics include using people with disabilities in the life-cycle process and the use of automated tools to assist with testing. The standard discusses how an organizations’ choice of technologies can impact the audience as well as guidance for considering the needs of users according to their specific disability, for example, people with physical impairments, sensory impairments, or people with cognitive disabilities. Furthermore, it provides text that organizations can use in their accessibility or procurement documents.