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Web accessibility regulations

What are the regulations?

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018

  • Websites and Mobile apps meet the WCAG 2.2 AA accessibility standard - although there may be valid legal reasons for not meeting accessibility standards (Note: the new WCAG 2.2 standard was approved on 5th October 2023)
  • Publish an accessibility statement explaining how accessible the website or mobile app is
  • Government is required to monitor whether public sector websites are meeting these regulations

What is meant by Digital Accessibility?

  • Ensuring that digital resources work for everyone, whatever their access needs
  • Scope includes websites, mobile apps, documents, ebooks, video and audio with some exceptions


These are some of the government defitions that apply for this regulation
  • Website – anything, that you can access via a web browser
  • Mobile application – application software designed and developed by or on behalf of a public sector body for use by the general public on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but does not include the software that controls those devices (mobile operating systems) or hardware
  • Archives – a website or mobile application which only contains content that is not needed for active administrative processes; and is not updated or edited after 23rd September 2019
  • Items in heritage collections – privately or publicly owned goods presenting an historical, artistic, archaeological, aesthetic, scientific or technical interest and that are part of collections preserved by cultural institutions such as libraries, archives and museums


There are some content exempted
  • Live audio and video
  • Maps as long as essential information is provided in an accessible digital manner for maps intended for navigation
  • Pre-recorded audio and video published before 23 September 2020
  • Documents such as PDFs published before 23 September 2018 that are not essential for services and heritage collections
  • Third-party content that isn’t under the organisation’s control or hasn’t been purchased (e.g. social media ‘like’ buttons)
  • Items in heritage collections
  • Archived content of website and mobile applications 

Further details can be found on the Government Digital Service website.

What do the regulations say (in plain English)

  • Digital content be created to comply with WCAG 2.2 AA standard (Note: the new WCAG 2.2 standard was approved on 5th October 2023)
  • Institutions must publish an up-to-date accessibility statement
  • Government will monitor whether these regulations are met

What do I have to do?

Whenever you create digital content, follow the best practices to make them accessible. 

Visit Digital Accessibility Resources section to view all resources.

What has changed with this legislation?

This legislation requires institutions to create content accessible to the WCAG 2.2 AA standard. Previously under the Equality Act 2010, if someone had a difficulty accessing content they had to make a request and a reasonable adjustment was then provided to accommodate accessibility needs. Therefore, with the new legislation in place, there will be fewer requests for reasonable adjustments as the content is created with accessibility in mind.

Useful Links

Jisc provides helpful interpretations of the accessibility regulations for the UK higher education sector.