Web Accessibility, Transparency and the Law

Frequently Asked Questions

With web accessibility being one of the key ways in which organisations can ensure equal access to information, we have included it as part of our fundamentals transparency scoring. This FAQ attempts to answer questions about web and digital accessibility in that context.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the practice of making websites and online services usable by everyone, including individuals with disabilities. This encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments.

Why is web accessibility important?

Web accessibility is crucial because it ensures that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, have equal access to information and functionality on the internet. It's a fundamental aspect of inclusive design and social responsibility, allowing everyone to participate fully in society.

Why is web accessibility important for corporate transparency?

Web accessibility demonstrates a company's commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility, reflecting its values and ethical standards. It shows that a corporation is transparent about its efforts to accommodate all customers, including those with disabilities, fostering trust and credibility among its stakeholders.

What laws cover web accessibility in the UK?

In the UK, the primary legislation covering web accessibility is the Equality Act 2010, which requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to ensure their services are accessible to disabled people. This includes digital services like websites and mobile apps. Additionally, public sector organisations must comply with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, aligning with the WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

In the UK, the primary legislation covering web accessibility is the Equality Act 2010, which requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to ensure their services are accessible to disabled people. This includes digital services like websites an

Organisations with inaccessible websites may face legal action under the Equality Act 2010. While there have been no specific court cases in the UK regarding web accessibility, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) can investigate and take action against organisations. Public sector bodies failing to comply with accessibility regulations may also be subject to legal consequences.

What constitutes a 'reasonable adjustment' for web accessibility?

Reasonable adjustments are modifications or changes made to remove or reduce barriers for disabled individuals. In the context of web accessibility, this could include ensuring website compatibility with screen readers, providing alternative text for images, and ensuring that all interactive elements are keyboard-navigable.

What is the significance of the WCAG?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), these guidelines are considered the international standard for web accessibility. Public sector websites and apps in the UK are required to meet WCAG 2.1 level AA standards.

Can private sector organisations be sued for web accessibility issues?

Yes, while there have been no specific court cases in the UK about web accessibility under the Equality Act 2010, private sector organisations can still face legal action if their websites or digital services discriminate against disabled individuals. Ensuring web accessibility is a proactive measure to avoid potential legal challenges and demonstrate commitment to inclusivity.

What are the trends in web accessibility lawsuits?

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in web accessibility lawsuits, particularly in the retail sector and related to video content accessibility. These trends highlight the growing importance of ensuring digital content is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities

How does COVID-19 affect web accessibility?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online services and e-commerce, making web accessibility even more critical. Organisations rapidly expanding their digital presence must ensure that new and existing online services are accessible to accommodate the increased reliance on these platforms by individuals with disabilities.
Is it mandatory for UK companies to display certain information on their website?
Yes, UK companies are legally required to make specific information readily accessible on their website.
The Companies Act 2006 aims to increase transparency and trust in the corporate sector by ensuring that essential information about companies is easily accessible to the public, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies.
Key sections of the Companies Act 2006 that relate to the disclosure of company information include:
Section 82 (Registered Name): This section requires a company to display its registered name at its registered office, any inspection place, and on business communications including websites.
Section 83 (Disclosure of Company Name): Outlines the requirements for displaying the company name at various locations.
Section 854 (Register of Members): Pertains to the availability of the company's register of members, which could be relevant for providing transparency about company ownership.
Sections 155-159 (Directors' Names): These sections require that certain documents and communications include the names of the directors, which might also apply to information provided on a company's website.
Other regulations applicable include:
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002: These regulations require companies engaging in e-commerce to provide clear information about the company, including details like the company's VAT number, on their websites.
The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008: These regulations specify the requirements for trading disclosures, including the registered name, registration number, place of registration, and registered office address that must be included on business communications, which extend to websites.
It's important to note that this information doesn't need to be present on every page but should be easily found, typically on the "About Us" or "Contact Us" pages.
What information must be displayed on a corporate website?
The statutory information required to be displayed on a UK corporate website includes:
  1. Company Name: The legal name of the company.
  2. Company Registered Number: The unique identification number assigned upon registration.
  3. Place of Registration: The jurisdiction, such as England and Wales, where the company is registered.
  4. Registered Office Address: The official address of the company.
  5. Postal Address and Company Email Address: Contact details for mail and email correspondence.
  6. Non-Electronic Contact Means: How to contact the company without using electronic methods.
  7. VAT Number: If applicable, the VAT registration number of the company.
  8. Membership Details: Information about any trade bodies or professional associations the company is a member of, including membership or registration details.
  9. Limited Company Status: For companies exempt from using "limited" in their name, a statement indicating it is a limited company.
  10. Community Interest Company Status: If applicable, a statement indicating it is a limited company and not a public company.
  11. Investment Company Status: For investment companies as defined by section 833 of the Companies Act 2006, a statement confirming this status.
  12. Share Capital: If the company chooses to disclose its share capital, it must show the paid-up share capital.
For companies in regulated professions (e.g., solicitors, doctors):
Registration Details: Information about the professional body or institution with which the company is registered.
Professional Title: The professional title and the member state where it was awarded.
Professional Rules: A hyperlink to, or explanation of how to access, the professional rules applicable to the company in its member state.
For companies engaged in online commerce, the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 also outline certain information that must be provided on a company's website, including details about the company, how to contact the company, and technical steps to conclude a contract.