March 8, 2006

PAS 78: British standards for website

by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has released information on a new standard – for disability access for websites.

Known as “Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 – Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites”, it was developed with the Disability Rights Commission, after a study claimed that 81% of websites were not properly accessible to people with disabilities.

According to the BSI, applying PAS 78 will provide:

  • compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA),
  • the creation of accessible websites,
  • wider audience reach,
  • improvement of search engine listings due to accessible content,
  • the easy transfer of this content to other media such as interactive TV or mobile phones

It remains to be seen how much impact PAS 78 will have in the world of web development, where similar standards have supposed to have been in place since the year 2000, via W3C.

However, the coming launch of Internet Explorer 7, which is believed to adhere more properly to web standards, could provide the necessary push to seeing common adoption of PAS 78.

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Story link: PAS 78: British standards for website

 

4 Responses to “PAS 78: British standards for website”

  1. Julie Howell on March 10th, 2006 8:09 pm

    Many thanks for helping to promote PAS 78. The key to its success lies in its promotion and blogging really, really helps.

    There’s a misconception in your post (I can tell you haven’t read the PAS itself yet) and I’m really glad of this opportunity to provide clarification.

    I was the technical author of PAS 78, and as such I wrote the first draft. I was commissioned by BSI who were in turn commission by DRC.

    PAS 78 is NOT a standard.

    It’s a spec. Guidance.

    You’re absolutely right to point our that WAI has already produced de facto standards for web designers in the form of the WAI guidelines.

    PAS 78 is not aimed at web designers.

    It’s aimed at web site commissioners. Businesses who commission web designers.

    This is what makes the PAS unique and essential. Many surveys (e.g. the one published by DRC two years ago) have found that while designers and companies generally feel positively towards accessible web design very few web sites are accessible. This indicates a gap between good will and good practice.

    PAS 78 addresses this gap.

    I’m not sure there’s a direct link to be made between IE 7.0 and PAS 78 other than ‘it’s all about web standards’. And is great that web standards are getting the respect they sorely need.

    Best regards
    Julie Howell
    RNIB

  2. Administrator on March 10th, 2006 8:21 pm

    Many thanks for the calrification, Julie – it’ll be very interesting indeed as to how much of an effect this has on W3C implementation in general.

    I think many designers are actively concerned about DDA implications as they stand, and PAS 78 can only help raise overall awareness of the issues, and required solutions, to design for the web overall.

  3. A W on March 10th, 2006 8:43 pm

    “Many surveys (e.g. the one published by DRC two years ago) have found that while designers and companies generally feel positively towards accessible web design very few web sites are accessible. This indicates a gap between good will and good practice.”

    Just had to pick up on this point. While designers and companies may feel positively about accessibility, not all sites are produced by designers.

    “Hey, my nephew has a computer, I’ll ask him to make our company website, we’ll save money!” – sound familiar?

    I’d be interested in what proportion of the non-compliant sites surveyed were actually produced by professionals. After all, designers adhering to W3C standards will already be designing accessible sites.

    Having said that, it’s great to have something targetted at raising awareness amongst businesses owners, because a lot of people who are not involved in design really don’t know what accessibility really entails when it comes to websites.

  4. Platinax News » Government websites failing on March 30th, 2006 12:25 pm

    [...] The problem of bad website design and coding is so acute that the Disabilities Rights Commission has published PAS 78, a guideline on good practice to designing websites. [...]

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