Working together for standards The Web Standards Project


The British Standards Institution (BSI) has invited two members of the WaSP, Bruce Lawson and Patrick Lauke, to join the drafting committee for the first British Standard for Web Accessiblity.

Two years ago, the BSI was sponsored by the Disability Rights Commission to write a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) called PAS 78: Guide to Commissioning Accessible Websites. Publicly Available Specifications are written quickly and “expire” after two years, but because of the popularity of PAS 78, the BSI have decided to update it to become a full British Standard.

We’ve just started work on the draft, which doesn’t yet have a title, although our working title is “encouraging the development of fantastic user experiences for disabled people online”.

Consequently, it’s too early to say what will be in BS8878, which will be released next spring. I can say that it will not tread on the toes of whichever version of WCAG is live then, as it’s a document to help site owners rather than developers. Like PAS 78, it will encourage adherence to current web standards.

Neither can I say who else is on the committee, except that it’s chaired by Julie Howell, and there are representatives from all over industry—broadcasting, banking, legal, education and (crucially) representatives of disability groups, including groups working with those with cognitive disabilities.

Patrick and I gratefully acknowledge our employers, Opera Software and the University of Salford, who are supporting us by paying our travel expenses and giving us time off to attend meetings and write the drafts. They have nothing material to gain by supporting us, and are exercising no editorial control, but are helping to make disabled people’s experiences of the web better.

As a procedural footnote, now that Derek Featherstone has moved role within WaSP to be Group Lead, I’m working with Patrick to be co-lead of the Accessiblity Task Force. Our main projects will be the British Standard, continuing to work with the microformats community testing various date-time patterns with screenreaders, and monitoring the developments in HTML5.

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#1 On July 11th, 2008 6:06 am