Accessibility British Standards


Standards & Publications | Related Information | In the media

Disability access and accessibility for disabled people

Since the implementation of disability discrimination legislation, a company can face prosecution if their premises are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Improvements are not restricted to building access, but also include the introduction of additional features such as grab rails, touch legible signs and visual and audio alarm systems.

Companies must take reasonable steps to ensure that as many disabled people as possible have full access to goods, services and places of interest.

BSI has a range of products to help businesses assess and implement the necessary changes. These essential guides will:

  • Provide all necessary guidance and best practice
  • Build compliance manuals
  • Integrate with existing documentation/systems
  • Manage actions and review
  • Report on ‘gaps’ in business systems
  • Allow flexible reporting options including export to PDF.

With the Equality Act in force since October 2010, the obligation to take “reasonable steps” extends to the provision of information (specifically, the law states that where a service "relates to the provision of information," the steps reasonable for a provider to have to take "include steps for ensuring that in the circumstances concerned the information is provided in an accessible format").

The new British standard on web accessibility, published in November 2010, builds upon the 2006 publicly available specification ‘Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites’ (PAS 78).  BS 8878 Web accessibility. Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable websites to their customers.

BS 8878 has been designed to introduce accessibility, usability and user experience for disabled people to non-technical professionals, some of whom may be completely new to this subject. It gives guidance on process, rather than on technical and design issues.

BS 8878 will be of interest to web developers and those who have an interest in the success of an organization's website (as employee or customer).

The British Standard was prepared by a committee of web accessibility experts.

By making web accessibility the subject of a British Standard, BSI hopes that accessibility will be regarded as one of the essential building blocks on which any public website, intranet or web-based tool is built.

Standards for technology and web accessibility

ISO/IEC GUIDE 71:2014 is available as a Free PDF download

The purpose of this Guide is to assist standards developers (e.g. technical committees or working groups) to address accessibility in standards that focus, whether directly or indirectly, on any type of system that people use. It provides guidance for developing and writing appropriate accessibility requirements and recommendations in standards. However, while its intended audience are standards developers, this Guide contains information that can also be useful to other people, such as manufacturers, designers, service providers and educators.

New standard for web accessibility
BS 8878 Web accessibility. Code of practice

BS 18477:2010 Inclusive service
BS 18477 examines the provision of 'inclusive' services and can help organizations better understand vulnerability and to deal with consumers in a fair way.

It specifies procedures for ensuring that services are available and made accessible to all consumers equally. The standard is applicable to any organization dealing with the public, but in particular is aimed at providers of services including utilies, telecoms, financial services, retail, health, transport and housing.

BS ISO/IEC 24751-1:2008
Information technology. Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training. Framework and reference model

BS ISO/IEC 24751-2:2008
Information technology. Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training. 'Access for all' personal needs and preferences for digital delivery

BS ISO/IEC 24751-3:2008
Information technology. Individualized adaptability and accessibility in e-learning, education and training. 'Access for all' digital resource description

Accessibility standards available to buy:

BS 7000-6:2005
Design management systems. Managing inclusive design. Guide

BS 8603:2013
Code of Practice for Wheelchair Passports 


Standards for accessibility in building design and construction

BS 8300-1:2018
Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Buildings. Code of practice

BS 8300-2:2018
Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Buildings. Code of practice


 Download our consumers' guide to the British Standard for Web Accessibility (BS 8878)


BS 9266:2013                                                                                                                     Design of accessible and adaptable general needs housing. Code of practice

Related Information

Why are accessible websites so important?

BSI's Chairman for BS8878, Jonathan Hassell, Head of Usability & Accessibility, BBC Future Media & Technology explains in the BSI video. Watch it here.

Want to get involved? 

Find out more about how you can influence standards development with draft standards and BSI committees. Here are some of the ways you can engage with standards:

Consumer & Public Interest Network - Disabled Experts Reference Group

About the Disabled Experts Reference Group (DERG)
BSI is committed to establishing standards that fulfil basic consumer principles, particularly in the area of accessibility and inclusivity. With that in mind we need to ensure that we support standards which promote the availability of products and services to all consumers, regardless of their disability or impairment.

As BSI publishes over 20,000 standards on products and services, we have created the Disabled Experts Reference Group (DERG) to provide informed knowledge on the vast number of those that have an impact on disabled people.

DERG is part of the BSI Consumer & Public Interest (CPI) Network and it comprises a diverse group of disabled people with relevant expertise and interest in disability equality, access and service provision. Its brief is to monitor BSI practice and to provide a strong presence in the development and promotion of standards that affect the disabled community.

The Group works together to advise on the preparation of standards which meet diverse requirements, based on a pragmatic approach to standardization (for example the complex standards relating to wheelchairs and lifts).

Draft standards in development - make your comments count!
Read about and comment on standards in development

Disabled access is now a compliancy issue as the Equality Act became law in October 2010.
Read more about the Act on the website of the Government Equalities Office.

Press coverage for BS 8878
Read some of the media coverage about BS 8878 

Following the launch of BSI’s new standard for web accessibility BS 8878 Web accessibility. Code of practice there has been a lot of interest and comment on the first British Standard for accessible web products. We’ve included some of the highlights here for you to read.

In the media

BSI press release for BS 8878
Digital Inclusion: First British Standard to Promote Web Accessibility Globally

Adobe.Com Blogs says “We welcome this new code of practice and hope that this will provide a better understanding of the importance of accessibility to an organization providing web products. Most web accessibility standards are inherently technical in nature and are difficult to understand by non-technical members of an organization.
BS 8878 fills this information gap.
New British Standard: Web Accessibility Code of Practice, BS 8878:2010

Web accessibility code of practice launched by BSI
UK standards-setting body BSI has published the first British standard on web accessibility. The websites of organizations which follow the guidance will be accessible to users with disabilities.

When the BSI standard is published, recruiters should check their website’s accessibility says
People Management Magazine

One of the many changes brought by the Equality Act 2010 is more help for disabled people online. Various best practice guides will emerge as the new act beds down. One example is the British standard on web accessibility, expected from the BSI in November. The draft has helpful suggestions for compliance, such as appointing an individual or department to oversee website accessibility; involving disabled people in website development; and considering the needs of users with specific physical or learning disabilities. Although not legally binding, compliance with the standard will be helpful evidence in the event of a legal challenge.

Is your website locking out disabled candidates?
By Robin Christopherson, Head of Accessibility Services AbilityNet

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