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BSI British Standards is inviting all interested parties, and in particular marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible web content. DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Building accessible experiences for disabled people – Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable web content to their customers. [...]

Based on PAS 78: 2006, Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 informs organizations of their legal responsibilities in relation to web accessibility, calling on them to appoint a specific person or department to oversee activity. [...]

Julie Howell, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878, commented, “Once published, this standard will be a fantastic tool for organizations wishing to understand their responsibilities in enabling disabled people to use web content. DPC BS 8878 encourages the enhancement of the overall user experience – a much more holistic approach than we have seen previously and one that I hope will yield exciting results. Right now we want to encourage as many people as possible to read and comment on the draft standard to ensure it is as relevant as possible.”

Read the full media release: BSI British Standards invites comments on new draft standard on accessible web content.

WaSP Accessibility Task Force co-leads Bruce Lawson (Opera Software) and Patrick H. Lauke (University of Salford) — who have been jointly representing their employing organisations and the Web Standards Project itself on the committee responsible for drafting the standard on behalf of BSI — would like to encourage feedback on DPC BS 8878 through the BSI British Standards Draft Review system.

Deadline for review is the 31 January 2009. Publication of BS 8878 is expected in summer 2009.


The draft is now also available for download in PDF and Word format.

See also:

Your Replies

#1 On December 2nd, 2008 5:19 am Stuart replied:

Isn’t the deadline for review 31 January 2009? :)

#2 On December 2nd, 2008 10:31 am bruce replied:

IST/45, the BSI committee responsible for BS 8878, comprised representatives from: AbilityNet; BBC; British Computer Association of the Blind; British Dyslexia Association; Chartered Institute of Marketing; Employers Forum on Disability; Equality and Human Rights Commission; IBM; Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG); Lloyds TSB; Mencap; Opera; Pinsent Masons; Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID); University of Salford; University of Southampton; Usability Professionals Association (UPA); Web Standards Project (WaSP).

#3 On December 2nd, 2008 8:40 pm WaSP Member plauke replied:


#4 On December 4th, 2008 1:04 pm WaSP Member plauke replied:

updated the article to link to the PDF and Word versions available at

#5 On December 4th, 2008 1:44 pm Steve Williams replied:

I will be contacting Julie Howell direct. I have contacted her several times before to discuss issues. Julie Howell has MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and has campaigned and promoted awareness to MS as well as web accessibility.

As a web developer there is several areas that I feel are key to the BSI 8878 that go beyond PAS 78 and WCAG. No longer can web developers rely upon automated tools to see if a website is accessible. This I believe is only half the battle.

Web standards can solve problem with the seperation of content from style and layout which needs to be clearly defined in the new guidelines. For example colour balance for visually impaired or colour blind uses.

Even today there are websites that are classed as WCAG AA complient that use light grey text on a white background or even green text on a lime green background which is difficult even for a non visually impaired user to read regardless of font size.

#6 On December 7th, 2008 4:42 am Fleisch replied:

I came across this document by chance and I think it’s great work! Getting these standards are more widely spread and included in authoring software is important. Keep up the great work!

#7 On December 9th, 2008 5:08 am Max Design - standards based web design, development and training » Some links for light reading (9/12/08) replied:

[...] BSI British Standards invites comments on new draft standard on accessible web content [...]

#8 On December 9th, 2008 5:30 pm Tom Worthington replied:

This announcement doesn’t actually say where, or how, to get the draft standard. I suggest making it clear, near the top of the announcement where the draft can be obtained. There is a link near the bottom for getting it in PDF or Word format, but I can’t imagine that BSI would be silly enough to not offer the standard in HTML.

Also it is not made clear if the standard will be made available for free online. If the standard is going to be document which the reader has to pay for then it will not be widely read.

I suggest BSI adopt W3C’s processes and simply provide the standard online in HTML format for anyone to read for free. To do otherwise is a waste of time and effort.

#9 On December 9th, 2008 5:30 pm Alan Gibson replied:

We might expect the much-touted BBC My Web My Way to be a paragon of accessibility.

So “Skip to content” should skip over common stuff like navigation menus, and go to the page’s distinct content.

So why doesn’t it?

#10 On December 10th, 2008 9:58 am Alan Gibson replied:

>> So why doesn’t it?

I raised this with the beeb, and they were gracious enough to say (I paraphrase), “Oops.”

#11 On December 19th, 2008 8:10 am Richard Morton, Accessible Web Consultancy replied:

I can’t imagine that BSI will make the final standard free as they are a commercial organisation, however I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised and eat my hat if I am wrong about that.

#12 On December 22nd, 2008 1:40 pm Jimbo replied:

I think defacto standards which allow all websites to conform and make the internet accessible for disabled users can only be a wonderful thing.
The internet has had a phenominal effect on the world and it seems only fair we put in place measures so everyone can benefit as equally as possible.

#13 On January 12th, 2009 4:15 pm Partnerprogramme replied:

What is the correct date for the deadline?

#14 On February 2nd, 2009 9:46 am En Yeni replied:

As a web developer there is several areas that I feel are key to the BSI 8878 that go beyond PAS 78 and WCAG. No longer can web developers rely upon automated tools to see if a website is accessible. This I believe too is only half the battle.

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