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Adam Turner

Q1 2021 UK Government and Public Bodies INDEX Results

Index Accessibility Public sector


We published the original INDEX of UK Government and Public Bodies’ websites in January 2006, over 15 years ago. The INDEX is now published quarterly and ranks Government and Public Bodies’ websites for digital compliance, based on User Experience, Search Engine Optimisation and Governance, Risk and Compliance.

This week we have published the results from our 2021 Q1 Government and Public Bodies INDEX to see progress being made and which organisations are complying with the law.

The accessibility regulations came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018 and state that public sector websites must be more accessible by making them ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’. Websites also need to include an accessibility statement, which should be kept up to date.

The full name of the accessibility regulations is the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The accessibility regulations build on existing obligations to people who have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland). These say that all UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people.

The Q1 2021 INDEX ranks the websites of nearly 300 Government and Public Bodies following over 200 million tests, checks and measures across over 625,000 URLs.

Congratulations to the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland for achieving first place and to the Welsh Language Commissioner for being the most improved, rising a very impressive 226 places up the table.

Since Q4 2020, 38 organisations have improved the accessibility of their website, whilst 34 have seen it decline.

No organisations passed the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA tests on 100% of their web pages and 16 organisations failed the level A and AA tests on every page. Indeed nearly 96% of web pages failed the level A tests and 40% failed the level AA tests.

European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, creating a set of standards for EU public sector bodies, using European standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04), was approved on October 26, 2016 and came into force for in the UK on 23 September 2018. The aim of the regulations is to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes those with:

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

New public sector websites have needed to be compliant since 22 September 2019, all other public sector websites needed to be compliant by 22 September 2020.

If we focus on accessibility, 8 organisations scored 8 (out of 10) for accessibility - they should all be congratulated for taking the lead in this sector on accessibility. The 8 organisations were:

  • Office for Students
  • Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists
  • Office for Nuclear Regulation
  • Historic England
  • UK Government Investments
  • NHS Digital
  • Welsh Government
  • Welsh Language Commissioner

As for the rest of the organisations in the INDEX:

  • 5% of organisations achieved a score of 7 or more (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 39% of organisations scored 5 or 6 (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 30% of organisations actually scored zero for accessibility

In the event of 2 organisations being tied then the organisation who scored higher in the previous quarter’s INDEX is ranked higher.

Top ten websites

  1. Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland
  2. Security Industry Authority
  3. National Museums Liverpool
  4. Office for Students
  5. Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists
  6. Office for Nuclear Regulation
  7. Historic England
  8. The Pensions Ombudsman
  9. Northern Ireland Policing Board
  10. UK Government Investments

Five Most improved websites

  • Welsh Language Commissioner
  • Ofwat (The Water Services Regulation Authority)
  • The National Archives
  • National Heritage Memorial Fund
  • Welsh Government

The full UK Government and Public Bodies Q1 2021 results can be found here: Sitemorse UK Government and Public Bodies INDEX

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