From 23 September 2020, all local council websites must be made accessible, unless the council can demonstrate that doing so would impose a disproportionate burden.
We believe that a lot of smaller parish and community councils would have grounds to apply for exemption for historical information on their websites – often local councils have minutes and agendas going back several years and it could be argued that converting all of these to accessible formats presents a disproportionate burden. However, if users need information to complete a task or access a service, even if it was published before 23 September 2018, you will need to provide it in an accessible format.
However, going forward local councils have no excuses not to present their documents and web pages in a way that is accessible to all. You can see the types of disabilities that should be considered when thinking about accessibility here Website Accessibility Dos and Don’t s – a pictorial guide.
To apply for exemption, a council must perform a disproportionate burden assessment. This should include
- The size, resources and nature of the council
- The estimated costs and benefits for the council in relation to the estimated benefits for persons with disabilities, taking into account the frequency and duration of use of the specific website
If the council determines that compliance would impose a disproportionate burden they must publish an accessibility statement. This must be in an accessible format and published on their website.
It must include the following:
- An explanation of the parts of the content that are not accessible and reasons why
- Where appropriate, a description of any accessible alternatives provided
- A link to your contact form so that the user can request details of the information excluded or notify the council of any failure to comply
- A link to the enforcement procedure that the user can access in the event of an unsatisfactory response to the notification or the request.