Surfability News: Press coverage

First Accessibility Accreditation Scheme
for Web Design Companies

BWDMA logo

The first ever accessibility accreditation scheme for suppliers of web design services is to launch early next year. The scheme has been developed by the recently formed accessibility and usability working group of the British Web Design and Marketing Association (BWDMA).  The accreditation will enable the digital industry to identify qualified suppliers in what is a legally essential requirement for all companies on the web.

According to Patrick White, BWDMA founder, "There is a low level of awareness concerning web accessibility even though it is the law. The obligation for websites to comply with current legislations (the Disability Discrimination Act etc) is with the owner and not the creator.

"Yet those companies seeking web designers with the right skills are discovering that there are not enough suppliers that can combine advanced technical functionality with accessibility. Moreover industry at large has difficulty in identifying suppliers that can. The BWDMA accreditation scheme will resolve that situation, provide a list of accredited suppliers and create a stimulus for firms to gain the required expertise."

The BWDMA intends that the accreditation scheme will promote awareness of, and support compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. It will include education elements, a continuous self-assessment facility and a formal accreditation process.

The scheme will verify that suppliers can design to comply with the European web accessibility initiative (WAI). The working group has also attracted support of the North American based organisation, the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI). The intention is that accreditation will include key elements from the American web access initiative, Rule 508, and create a scheme that benchmarks international accessibility standards.

Member of the working group and Managing Director - Nomensa Ltd, Simon Norris believes that the accreditation scheme is a major step forward. "Whilst the legal obligation is a key driver in this initiative, there is a moral obligation as well as a commercial benefit to developing accessible sites. Having this accreditation will allow web service organisation to concentrate on promoting the real benefits of accessibility such as gaining a wider audience and improving profitability. "

White gives a further reason as to why an accreditation scheme is essential for the industry: "The British government have introduced a law with which they themselves cannot yet comply. Owning around 2500 central and local government web sites, they are one of the world's largest purchasers of web technologies and yet only a fraction of their sites are accessible to a sufficient standard. They too need assured procurement paths, which the accreditation scheme will deliver. A very sound reason for Government to join with this industry initiative and both endorse and support it."

The scheme is scheduled for introduction early next year and will feature measurement of completed projects by key performance indicators using a combination of automated testing and human assessment.

The BWDMA working group will hold its next meeting in December and continues to seek contribution from across the digital industry.   Interested parties can join by visiting www.bwdma.com 


Notes to Editor:

- Interviews with BWDMA or group members on request to Katy at 01932 706 810

About BWDMA

The British Web Design and Marketing Association (BWDMA) is a "broad church", inclusive organisation attracting companies and individuals with an interest in the digital economy. The Association seeks to improve e-business standards through sharing knowledge, understanding and proliferation of best practice.

The Association proactively operates a programme of industry collaboration with reputable trade bodies in the digital economy. Additionally, they actively support the development of associations, network organisations and community groups that share our values. This reflects a genuine commitment to knowledge sharing.
www.bwdma.com

The BWDMA provides a gateway for businesses to purchase with confidence from reputable suppliers through the free procurement service Web Project Guide.

Related URL's

http://www.icdri.org/
http://www.nomensa.com

Contact

Katy Howell
immediate future.
01932 706 810
07803 898 511
katy.howell@immediatefuture.co.uk

Released on November 21st 2003 by the
BWDMA Usability & Accessibility (UA) Working Group

Dr Mark Williams, The Managing Director of Surfability, is a member of the BWDMA Usability & Accessibility Working Group.

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