Guidance

Make things accessible and inclusive

Make sure your technology, infrastructure and systems are accessible and inclusive for all users.

To meet point 2 of the Technology Code of Practice (TCoP) your plan or design must show how you’re making technology inclusive.

If you’re going through the spend control process you must explain how you’re meeting point 2 or any limitations you’ve encountered.

How making things accessible and inclusive will help your programme

Your technology project or programme will benefit from:

  • making your technology work for as many users as possible
  • all staff members having easy access to the information and infrastructure they need to do their work, for example, your organisation’s network, authoring tools, project management software and HR suites
  • assurance that there is no barrier to employing people with specific access needs
  • avoiding potential legal challenges

Legally, public sector websites and apps must meet accessibility standards. And all suppliers to government have a legal duty to make their technology and services accessible to all, especially people with disabilities.

How to build accessible technology

When building IT infrastructure and systems make sure you consider accessibility from the start of your project or programme. Do research with users who have a range of abilities and decide on your accessibility requirements. Doing this means you can make sure that:

  • government workers are not restricted
  • it is easier to build accessible services for citizens

For example, you should consider:

  • the accessible space in your office environment or server rooms
  • which hardware you choose, how compatible it is with assistive technologies and what accessible functionality comes as standard
  • which software you choose, such as the authoring tools and software that operates as a user interface or as assistive technology

If you’re also building or buying technology to provide a service over the web:

How to buy accessible technology

When you’re buying a technology product you buy something that’s as accessible as possible.

You can:

If you have questions, you can get help from the government digital buying community.

How to supply accessible technology

If you’re supplying a technology product to the public sector, you might need to make a statement about how that product meets accessibility standards.

EN 301 549 is a standard that covers procurement of web technologies and other types of technology, including hardware and non-web software.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) is a standard that covers websites and digital services. You meet level AA of the WCAG 2.1 as a minimum.

Meeting the EN 301 549 procurement standard

Review the functional performance statements and functional accessibility requirements. Use the filter tool to work out which of these are relevant to the technology you want to supply.

For example, if your product is an information kiosk you’ll need to consider people with sight, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments. However, you’ll also need to consider how to make your product accessible to people in wheelchairs because they are likely to have limited physical reach. This means you should use statement ‘4.2.8 Usage with limited reach’ as one of your accessibility statements.

But if your product is only software, a user with limited physical reach is less likely to have an issue, so you might not need to include statement 4.2.8.

If your technology is a website or digital service which meets the WCAG 2.1 AA standard, you can assume it also meets the requirements of EN 301 549.

Using the EN 301 549 standard in procurement frameworks

Find out what sort of conformity assessment or attestation potential buyers are likely to want from you.

For example, if you want to apply to be a supplier on the G-Cloud framework you’ll need to:

  • answer the question about accessibility in the supplier declaration so it’s easy for potential buyers to tell whether your product meets their accessibility requirements
  • provide some more detail on how your product meets the relevant standard in the service definition document

When you’re providing more details the service definition document consider:

  • what evidence you have that your product meets the relevant standard
  • whether your product was tested with assistive technology - and if so, which ones
  • how you’ll make sure that future updates to the product won’t have a negative impact on accessibility

You must be accurate about how far your product meets accessibility standards. The buyer may ask for confirmation as part of the call off contract, either from you directly, or through a third party certification.

Meeting the WCAG 2.1 standard for websites and digital services

Read the guidance on understanding WCAG 2.1.

You might want to consider:

  • using GOV.UK Frontend to help your service meet WCAG 2.1
  • paying to get your product audited against WCAG 2.1 by an accessibility expert
Published 6 November 2017
Last updated 28 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added more information about the listed accessibility standards and restructured the layout.

  2. First published.