Today sees the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities“.

Themes at IWMW 2019

The event provides the ideal opportunity to announce the re-opening of the IWMW blog, which opens every year about this time to support the forthcoming IWMW event.

This year’s event, IWMW 2019, has the theme “Times They Are A-Changin’!” and many of the sessions at the three day event explore issues relating to this theme, with plenary talks addressing issues such as “Changing Times Across the Institution, the Sector … and for Future Audiences“, “Institutional Perspectives on Changing Times” and “A Constant in Changing Times: Users!“.

Web Accessibility Challenges

Web accessibility has been a long-standing interest for me, ever since I attended the launch of W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative. Since then I have published a number of papers on web accessibility issues. I was therefore particularly interested when I heard about the EU Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Websites and Mobile Applications.

As described in a post published in July 2018 on the University of Bristol Law School blog which warns the community that “UK Universities must soon comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive“:

In 2016, the EU adopted the Web Accessibility Directive to foster better access to the websites and mobile applications underpinning public services – in particular by people with disabilities, and especially persons with vision or hearing impairments. …

The Web Accessibility Directive must be transposed into UK law by 23 September 2018 and will generate obligations for new websites from 2019, for pre-existing websites from 2020, and for all public sector apps from 2021. …

These requirements [web sites must comply with relevant technical standards] will be applicable from 23 September 2019 for websites published after 23 September 2018, and from 23 September 2020 for pre-existing websites. All apps will have to comply from 23 June 2021. Universities will also have to report on their compliance with the applicable rules and subject themselves to the domestic mechanism for the resolution of disputes foreseen by the domestic Web Accessibility Regulations.

The DIGITALACCESSIBILITYREGULATIONS Jiscmail list provides a forum for discussions about the implications of the directive, although the focus of the list appears to be on the accessibility or teaching and learning resources, and there is little indication that members of institutional web and digital teams are engaging in discussions on this list.

So You Think You Know Accessibility

The session on “A Constant in Changing Times: Users!” at the IWMW 2019 event is appropriate, as user issues have been relavent to the IWMW event series since it was launched in 1997.

The session is also very timely as a plenary talk on “So You Think You Know Accessibility” will provide an opportunity to hear more about the EU directive and how institutions are – or should be(!) – responding.

This year’s event also sees a number of innovative features, including the “Lean Coffee” sessions which provide opportunities for delegates to discuss topics of particular interest – so perhaps a lean coffee session on the EU’s Web Accessibility Directive and how institutions are responding would be very timely for the sector.

If you wish to attend the IWMW 2019 event we recommend that you book quickly as the limited number of rooms in the halls of residence are filling being taken and once they are gone delegates will have to book hotel accommodation (although there are plenty of hotels available in Greenwich.

The post was written by Brian Kelly, IWMW founder and IWMW 2019 co-chair.