On 23 June 2016, 51% of the British population voted to leave the EU. But what did that mean for digital accessibility?

One of the main reason quoted by ‘leavers’ was that the UK should have the power to make its own laws, and not have other EU countries interfere with our legal processes.

After Brexit, new EU laws will not be automatically applied to the UK, and any existing adopted EU laws could be revoked.

EU Directive on Accessibility

The EU Directive ‘The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018’ on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications was published in October 2016 and was mandated to be transposed into UK law by 23 September 2018.

This directive aims to ensure that the accessibility and inclusivity of public sector websites and mobile apps is improved, with all public sectors website having to be accessible by 2020.

Making a website or mobile app accessible means removing any barriers that prevent an individual from using or accessing the information provided.

This includes individuals with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

Since this time we have seen a surge in interest for design reviews, accessibility assessments and content training – so something clearly has people moving in the right direction.

Changes to Laws

The triggering of Article 50 meant that the UK will officially leave the EU on 29th March 2019. At this point, the UK will no longer be under the governance of the European Court of Justice, and UK courts will not be allowed to refer to EU case law and any EU court decisions will no longer have legal weight in the UK.

However, a silver lining (for now) is that the EU Withdrawal Bill states that all EU laws will be copied to the UK. However, the UK is then free to keep, amend, or repeal as they see fit. Only time will tell if the new web accessibility laws will remain.

Guidelines

Regardless of what the UK decide, the internationally recognised standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) will remain and will continue to be developed and should inform any future legislation that the UK create.