Digital Accessibility Laws in the U.K.

Published October 9, 2022

Awareness and understanding of accessibility laws have come a long way in the U.S., but if you're doing business in the U.K., you may want to read up on which accessibility laws apply to you.

Let’s review the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) four principles of web accessibility and digital accessibility-related laws in the U.K. 

The four principles of web accessibility

Most countries base their web accessibility laws on WCAG 2.1, and the U.K. is no different. Although it has begun to see mainstream adoption and implementation truly, WCAG can be challenging to interpret for newcomers. The first step is understanding the four principles of WCAG: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR).

Learn more about POUR here.

You can use WCAG’s compliance checklist to see how your website measures up against accessibility laws.

The two major web accessibility laws in the UK

There are two significant laws regarding web accessibility to be aware of in the U.K. The Equality Act (2010) and the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations (2018).

The Equality Act (2010)

The equality act makes it illegal to discriminate against various groups, including people living with disabilities. The Equality Act also states that websites must be accessible to all users. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Equality Act 2010 Code of Practice (PDF) states that:

"…duty to make reasonable adjustments requires service providers to take positive steps to ensure that disabled people can access services. This goes beyond simply avoiding discrimination. It requires service providers to anticipate the needs of potential disabled customers for reasonable adjustments."

While the Act does not specifically reference WCAG, it is generally accepted that adhering to the guidelines will ensure reasonable adjustments have been made. 

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations (2018)

The Public Sector Bodies’ regulations only apply to specific organizations, primarily government organizations and charities. The legislation imposes stricter guidelines regarding accessibility for these organizations’ websites and mobile apps. 

An interesting tidbit about the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations is that, unlike many U.S.-based accessibility laws, the regulation requires covered entities to incorporate an accessibility statement and comply with accessibility laws. 

The accessibility statement is required to be published in an accessible format on the website of a public body and must include an explanation of any content that is not accessible and the reasons why. The statement must also include a description of any accessible alternatives provided, including a description of and contact link to a form that enables the person to notify the entity of any failure identified in accessibility. 

Another notable point about the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations is the fact that WCAG 2.1 is specifically referenced as a compliance threshold (PDF) that must be met by covered entities. 


U.K. law can be confusing, especially if you’re U.S.-based, but as long as you follow WCAG’s accessibility guidelines, you’re on the right path. 



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