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About the UK DDA

Developed for SmartForce.


While the text of the DDA does not directly address web accessibility, there are strong indications that the DDA could successfully be applied to web sites and that the WCAG would be used in determining web accesibility.

Related Information on UIAccess

DDA Introduction

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) is "an Act to make it unlawful to discriminate against disabled persons in connection with employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services or the disposal or management of premises; to make provision about the employment of disabled persons; and to establish a National Disability Council."[1]

A brief guide to the DDA provides more information on the UK DDA.

DDA Application to Internet Sites

While the Act itself does not directly address Internet sites, supporting documents clearly indicate that Internet sites can be covered under DDA.

The revised Code of Practice [2] provides the following clarifications and examples:

For people with [hearing disabilities or visual impairments], the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include one or more of the following: ... accessible websites
An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the Act.

The guidelines for UK Government websites [3] state:


Part III of the DDA makes it unlawful for a service provider to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability. Service providers must also consider making reasonable adjustments to the way that they deliver their services where disabled people find these impossible or unreasonably difficult to access.

There are provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act (section 19 (3)) that state that "access to and use of means of communication", and "access to and use of information services", are both examples of services which would be covered by Part III.

However, it would be for a court to decide whether it would have been reasonable for a particular service provider to have made a particular adjustment to enable access for a disabled person, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case.

Government policy is to encourage departments and agencies to make their services as accessible to disabled people as is reasonably possible. These guidelines have been developed with this aim in mind.

Guidelines for Web Accessibility

While I do not know of any guidelines or standards that are directly referenced in conjunction with the DDA, the W3C guidelines are widely regarded as an acceptable benchmark. Specifically, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) [4] from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) are commonly referenced.

An article published in the Journal of Information, Law and Technology[5] states:

Level A [of WCAG] would be a realistic and clear standard for the Courts to set as an initial benchmark for DDA compliance.

The obligation to follow 'recognised standards and practices' would surely include a requirement to design the Web site with WAI Guidelines compliance

An article published by The International Centre for Commercial Law[6] states:

The Web Accessibility Initiative has published Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Although the WCAG does not have any legal effect in the UK, a minimum standard of web accessibility could be interpreted to mean compliance with all Priority 1 checkpoints of the WCAG.
A Government Communications White Paper [7] states:
We support the work undertaken by the body charged with setting standards for the Web, the W3 Consortium, on making the Web accessible to people with disabilities.
We are preparing constructive aids to assist our webmasters and web managers to understand accessibility problems and to enhance our compliance with the WAI. Our core guidance will recommend that our online services are at minimum WAI - A compliant.
Furthermore, legal activity in the U.S. and Australia supports using WCAG as a measure of web accessibility.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Act

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act was given Royal Assent on 11 May 2001, and will begin to come into effect on 1 September 2002. The Act removes the previous exemption of education from the Disability Discrimination Act, ensuring that discrimination against disabled students will be unlawful. Institutions will incur additional responsibilities in 2003, with the final sections of legislation coming into effect in 2005.[8]

References and Resources

See also Government Laws, Regulations, Policies, Standards, and Support resources.


Information on this site is based on the knowledge, experience, and best judgments of Shawn Lawton Henry and other contributors. No warranties or guarantees are implied. Shawn Lawton Henry shall not be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages based on this information.
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