It’s been 18 months since BS8878 first went out for public consultation. At the time, this forthcoming web accessibility code of practice from the British Standards Institution (BSI) received an unprecedented amount of feedback. Now a second draft is available for public consultation, and this is where we need your help! BS8878 has changed quite a bit since it first went to public consultation in 2008. Amongst other things, it includes information about the Equality Act, the legislation that will replace the Disability Discrimination Act later this year. User personalisation is another topic to make an entrance in the standard. It’s based on the notion that no matter how accessible a website might be, there will always be people for whom the experience could be optimised even further. BS8878 makes it clear that a website should be accessible by default. Which is to say that it should conform to recognised accessibility guidelines for web accessibility. It also notes that a website can include features that make it easy for people to make personal choices about the way content is presented. A simple approach to user personalisation is the style switcher. A working example can be found on the British Computer Association of the Blind website. The default presentation of the website is accessible, and conforms to WCAG 2.0 success criteria relating to colours. Through the style switcher, people are also given a choice of alternative colour schemes. It’s a limited level of personalisation, but it adds the element of personal choice to the way content is presented. User personalisation is still an emerging concept. Standards like the W3C’s Resource Description Framework underpin many approaches to user personalisation, including the BBC’s accessibility toolkit. The goal of these toolkits is to enable people to make choices about the way they receive content on one website, then export those choices to be used on other sites. The standard also touches on accessibility across other digital platforms including mobile, tablet and iTV. It also includes information on procurement, policy, testing and sustaining accessibility. But, we’re not there yet. In their own words:
“BSI is inviting all interested parties, and in particular website owners, web product managers, web procurement managers, usability and accessibility specialists, marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Code of Practice.”
So if you have some time between now and the end of the month, grab a cup of coffee and take a look at BS8878. With your help we can make sure it’s a useful, helpful and practical standard.