WCAG Compliant Websites
What is WCAG Website Compliance?
Since September 2020, all parish, town & borough councils must have a website that complies with Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA rating so that it meets Accessibility Guidelines as set in the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility regulations. You can read this requirement here on the Gov.uk website.
The Public Sector Bodies (Websites & Mobile Applications No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 aim to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
WCAG 2.1 AA compliance covers many areas of a website and include how it’s constructed, how the user navigates around it, how the information is presented & displayed. In addition, the public body must be aware of all the website’s content and what may not be compliant and publish an Accessibility Statement.
What you need to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant
As a simple guide, to comply with these accessibility guidelines, a public body must have:
- A WCAG 2.1 AA rated compliant website.
- An Accessibility Policy Statement following a standard format.
- An Accessible Documents statement, following a standard format.
- A process to regularly monitor & review the website.
- A process to provide requests for content that is not in a compliant format.
Can We Make An Existing Website WCAG Compliant?
Historically, many providers have promoted cheap online website generators offering predefined themes and tools for users to launch a website with a press of a few buttons. Some councils have commissioned websites with visual appeal, to showcase their locality.
These websites have been built for ease-of-deployment, or with functionality that helps the website look attractive – but achieving this has been to the detriment of accessibility. Accessibility to WCAG 2.1AA standard usually can’t be retro-fitted to a existing website, because accessibility comes from the methods and standards to which the underlying code is written.
Sometimes accessibility ‘plugins’, ‘widgets’ or ‘overlays’ are offered as a solution – according to Scope, the leading UK charity for disability equality, “Often they can make the user experience worse for the disabled people they claim to help”. Read Scope’s article on accessibility overlays and how they are experienced by disabled people.
Get a WCAG 2.1 AA compliant website
There are many providers of website services but, in response to requests from members looking for a ready-made sector-specific package, the SLCC has partnered with Aubergine, an experienced website development agency, to provide a WCAG 2.1 AA rated compliant website and support package for members at a reduced cost. If commissioned and specified directly, WCAG 2.1 AA compliant websites can cost many thousands of pounds to build but we are pleased to offer all SLCC members access to website packages that start from £700 + VAT.
Learn more about Aubergine and their website packages for councils:
The website package includes
A WCAG 2.1 AA rated compliant website built on the WordPress platform.
A fully mobile friendly website.
Website admin tools to update all the content easily yourself.
Transparency Code capability.
Thorough training to get you started plus ongoing support.
Guidance on website accessibility statements you may need.
A quarterly WCAG2.1 AA compliance scan & report highlighting any issues.
SSL-protected website hosting on our UK servers. Find out about SSLs here
We’ll manage all software updates so you don’t have to.
Automatic 12-hourly backups of the website.
On-going support as and when you need it – email, online or phone.
We will ensure your website remains GDPR compliant.
Domain name management, should you need it.
Additional GDPR-compliant email services for you, should you need it.
We’re JISC-approved to work with all .gov domains.
Aubergine are UK-based and Cyber Essentials certificated.
You can view a map with links to all the councils using Aubergine’s WCAG 2.1AA-compliant website package on their website.
Q: Do I Need A Compliant Website?
A: All parish, town, borough and city councils need a compliant WCAG 2.1 AA rated website since September 23rd, 2020.
Q: Can We Convert Our Existing Website?
A: Technically, yes – but the time required to do this would probably cost more than getting a new site that’s based on an already-compliant framework.
Q: Can I Keep My Existing Domain Name / Website Address For A New Site?
A: Yes. You could also choose to move to a .gov.uk web address, and redirect your old site to this.
Q: What Happens To Our Email?
A: If your email is currently provided by a GDPR-compliant service, it can remain there. If it’s hosted on your current web server, it probably isn’t GDPR compliant and you’ll need to move it. Aubergine can help you do that.
Q: What Is The Package Commitment Length?
A: It is an annual service.
Q: Are There Different Designs?
A: The framework has lots of different design elements that you can place where you want. No two package websites will look the same. Here’s a short video showing how you can design your website to your council’s needs:
Q: What If Our Website Links To Another That Has Non-Compliant Content (eg Facebook)?
A: You are not responsible for another party’s website. If you link to another public body website, it is their responsibility to make sure it complies.
Q: Can I Host The Package Website Elsewhere?
A: No. The framework and servers are configured to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant and can’t be hosted on a different server.
Q: Can I Have Some Extra Features?
A: The package includes all the features a council would need. Extra functionality and upgrades to the framework will continually be added (without extra cost) – just let Aubergine know what you want to see added.
Q: What Is An SSL?
A: SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and is a form of security for websites that encrypts data going between a user’s browser and the website server. For GDPR compliance, any website with a contact form should have an SSL.
Who are Aubergine?
Established in 2002, Aubergine’s management team have over 30 years’ experience in website design and coding. We are an 11-strong team of designers and developers based in Leighton Buzzard. We’ve worked with organisations such as The UN, GambleAware, The Mayor’s Fund For London and the Society for Local Council Clerks, and councils of varying sizes from Watford Borough Council to Leighton Buzzard Town Council.
We are Cyber Essentials certificated.