An accessibility statement is a specific legal document that organisations must publish under the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (PSBAR). The statement must include information about accessibility issues on a system, contact information, enforcement procedure, as well as several other legally required sections.
There is a specific template in the UK that must be followed for accessibility statements under PSBAR.
Private companies or others not covered by PSBAR may choose to write an accessibility statement. A good statement will still be similar to a PSBAR statement in terms of listing issues, contact information etc. but does not require certain pieces of legal wording.
Any website, mobile app or other digital system owned, built, or purchased by an organisation in scope of PSBAR must have an accessibility statement.
This includes for third party products that an organisation makes it staff or customers use in some cases. For example, if you are paying for off the shelf 3rd party products you may need to work with the supplier to provide a statement for your users that interact with that system.
We would also say that really, everyone needs an accessibility statement. These are useful pieces of information for users with access needs that are valuable for any website or system. We would encourage everyone to have some form of accessibility related guidance available. It is good practice to test for accessibility issues and let users know if there any problems and who they can get help from or how they can request alternate formats.
The content of a statement should cover information about known issues, enforcement processes, contact methods, exemptions and a few other legal requirements, but this section is about the scope of how many systems a statement should cover.
Ideally you will have one statement for each distinct website or system. Sometimes you might have a statement for only part of a larger system or an specific user journey. For example if you are using a 3rd party form product that is integrated with your website, you may have a statement for the website as a whole and a statement for the forms if they have different contacts, or significantly different issues between the website and the forms journeys.
You should avoid writing a statement that covers multiple websites under different domains even if the multiple websites are designed on the same template. Ideally you will have one statement per domain. Multiple websites even if duplicates eventually diverge on content and will introduce unique issues, so having a single statement may list issues of one website that does not apply to the others, which can confuse users.
The Government Digital Service (GDS) as the monitoring body for the regulations will be assessing whether an accessibility statement meets requirements provided guidance on creating an accessibility statement in the form of a sample statement for a fictional website.
If you are in England, Scotland or Wales, the regulations that you need to mention in your statement are the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018, and the Equality Act 2010. These are the relevant pieces of legislation for Accessibility Statement requirements and information on the enforcement procedure through the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If you are in Northern Ireland you still need to mention the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations but may want to mention the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which is still an active piece of legislation in Northern Ireland. (It was repealed and superseded by the Equality Act 2010 in England Scotland and Wales). You will also need to direct enforcement to the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland.
If you want to write an accessibility statement for your website you can follow the sample statement provided by GDS, or if you want more step by step guidance, you can find more in our How to write an accessibility statement guide.