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RE: UK Access Rules:

From: Martin Sloan <martin.sloan@orange.net>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 00:10:34 +0100
To: <tcroucher@netalleynetworks.com>, "'David Sloan'" <DSloan@computing.dundee.ac.uk>, "'Andy Heath'" <a.k.heath@shu.ac.uk>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <008501c3943a$cf054930$61f97ad5@Bertie>

I suspect that this debate is pretty much concluded now, but thought I'd
just send a clarifying email as to the issues that were discussed.

The majority of Part III of the DDA (which relates to the provision of
goods, services, facilities and premises) came into force on 1 October 1999.
The final parts of Part III (which requires service providers to make
'reasonable adjustments' to the physical features of their premises to
overcome *physical* barriers to access) comes into force on 1 October 2004.

The area of the Act that (arguably - as was mentioned there is yet to be a
test case in the UK) applies to Web sites has therefore been in force since
1999. There seems to be an urban myth that it is in fact the 2004 provisions
that apply to Web sites, but this is incorrect. I have heard and read this
from several people and it seems to be traceable back to a particular
talk/seminar series, but has since been repeated elsewhere, which I suspect
is what has led to the confusion. If your lawyer has told you this I would
be a bit concerned!

The DDA does not make specific reference to Web sites, however Web sites are
referred to in the latest edition of the Code of Practice. Again, the fact
that Web sites are mentioned in the new draft of the CoP (which was prepared
to allow service providers to prepare for the 2004 obligations may have
caused some confusion). To what extent a Web site is a service is discussed
at length in the JILT paper that David quoted earlier - however I believe it
is by and large an academic argument (and to a certain extent I explored out
of curiosity), but anyone wishing to read more can find a link to my paper
on the Web site.

Re an earlier comment that it is all very well having legislation, but what
is really needed are specific guidelines - I would agree with this
observation to a point. It is true that in the building/construction
industry there are a multitude of regulations etc that set out DDA
requirements, but the crucial difference here is that these form part of the
planning and building control laws - without planning permission, building
warrants and certificates of completion/habitation people and businesses
would not be allowed to occupy a building. In contrast, anyone can set up a
Web site and doesn't require permission from the government to do so.

I would also point out that in the US, as far as I am aware, there are no
specific guidelines for accessibility under the ADA. The s.508 guidelines
relate to s.508 which only applies to federal agencies and the bodies with
which they contract. However, as far as I am aware they have no legal
stature in relation to the ADA. Indeed, the whole question of whether an
inaccessible Web site breaches the ADA at all is currently up in the air
following the decision in the Southwest Airlines case (although that case is
not without its problems).

The WAI guidelines are by far the best guidance. It is unlikely that anyone
who follows these (even to level A) will be pulled up by a court for failing
to comply with the DDA. The Act specifically mentions taking reasonable
action and I would have thought that following guidelines on accessibility
issued by the W3C would be quite a reasonable step to take.

In relation to education, the DDA was amended by the SEN and Disability Act
2001. The SENDA inserted a new Part IV in the DDA which specifically deals
with accessibility in education. The first stages of this Act came into
force in September 2002 and require, amongst other things, that educational
institutions do not discriminate in the admission of students and the
students services it offers - this covers things such as lectures, teaching
e-learning etc so will clearly cover the use of web sites (both internal and
external) in higher education. It should be noted that many Web sites will
have been covered since 1999, by virtue of them being service rather than
education related (eg conference facilities, library catalogue et cetera).

The current European as I understand it is that the Communication issued by
the European Commission in 2001 required member states to adopt the WAI
guidelines by the end of 2001. The Communication itself does not actually
say what level of compliance is required, which suggests that best practice
is for as many boxes to be ticked as possible, but that Level A would be a
start. If you can find out where you saw the reference to Level AA Tom I'd
be grateful if you would let me know. It is likely that this is an area for
future legislating by the EU in both the public and private sphere.

The UK Government's current position is moving towards AA, having previously
been single A inline with the eEurope campaign. Julian is indeed correct
when mentioning the requirements for local authorities in England and Wales,
however I have not yet seen anything which has changed this policy with
regard to all public Web sites in the UK. Indeed, there are still many that
are not even single A compliant.

Lastly (and I appreciate this has been something of an epic posting) - the
W3C does *not* provide comprehensive links to all the material you need in
the UK. The only link that still remains in the "resources" section is
broken and all the rest say "formerly at...". whilst this is an improvement
from a host of broken links, it is still highly unsatisfactory - there is
not even a link to the Code of Practice. As I have mentioned in postings to
the group before, I have offered to update the links on several occasions
but have never even received an acknowledgement of my offer of help. It was
because of this frustration that I set up my own site at

I will just finish off by saying that I have recently completed an update of
my original JILT paper, which is due to be published in a forthcoming legal
textbook in the UK. I will try and provide some summary articles online to
keep everyone up to date.

Any questions, let me know.


Martin Sloan
e: martin.sloan@orange.net
w: www.web-access.org.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Tom Croucher
Sent: 16 October 2003 11:07
To: David Sloan; 'Andy Heath'
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org; martin.sloan@orange.net
Subject: Re: UK Access Rules:


Thanks for the clarification. However would that not imply that the 2004 
date would also apply to web sites, or is that an unfounded assumption?


On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 10:58:17 +0100, David Sloan 
<DSloan@computing.dundee.ac.uk> wrote:

> Andy asked: "Is the confusion over the Learning/services split ?"
> My understanding is that the web sites of UK educational providers 
> will
> have
> been covered separately under part III of the DDA (goods, facilities and
> services) since 1999, and as educational providers since September 2002,
> after the SENDA amendment to the DDA.
> As I understand it, the 2004 date referred to by Tom in a previous
> posting
> relates to the date when goods, facilities and service providers are
> required to make 'reasonable adjustments' to the physical features of 
> their
> premises to overcome physical barriers to access."
> And for info - while the legislation doesn't mention web sites,
> accompanying
> Codes of Practice do, so in UK legal terms, this would be highly 
> significant
> in the ruling of any case.
> Dave
Received on Thursday, 16 October 2003 19:11:58 UTC

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