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Adam Turner

Are UK Central Government organisations meeting WCAG 2.1?

Accessibility Public sector


At Sitemorse we published our 2019 Q4 UK Central Government INDEX this week. The INDEX has been published quarterly since 2006 and ranks the websites of nearly 200 UK Central Government organisations, based on User Experience, Search Engine Optimisation and Governance, Risk and Compliance.

Our Q4 INDEX was compiled following over 140 million tests, checks and measures across over 440,000 URLs.

Congratulations to the Student Loans Company for taking first place and the National Crime Agency for being the most improved.

Overall, 18 organisations improved the Accessibility of their website, whilst 23 have seen it decline and 149 have made no progress.

No organisations passed the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA tests on 100% of their web pages. Indeed, there are 5 organisations that fail the level A and AA tests on every page. 

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. It 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 this year, all other public sector websites need to be compliant by 22 September 2020.

If we focus purely on Accessibility and compare the Q4 INDEX results with those from Q3:

  • 4 organisations scored 7 or higher
  • 62 organisations score 5 or 6
  • 127 organisations scored 4 or less

Top ten websites

  1. Student Loans Company
  2. Natural Resources Wales
  3. Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs NI
  4. The Adjudicator's Office
  5. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
  6. Security Service (MI5)
  7. Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
  8. Department of Finance NI
  9. Research for Development Outputs
  10. Office for Nuclear Regulation

Five Most improved websites

  • National Crime Agency
  • Boundary Commission for Scotland
  • Liberal Democrat Party
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Financial Conduct Authority

The full 2019 Q4 UK Central Government results can be found here: Sitemorse 2019 Q4 UK Central Government INDEX

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