The Cabinet Office has awarded a six-figure two-year deal for a specialist provider to audit the accessibility of its digital services.
Recently published commercial documents reveal that, on 1 April, the central department signed a contract with south Wales-based non-profit organisation the Digital Accessibility Centre. The deal is valued at £436,632 and will run for an initial term of 24 months, plus two optional extensions of one year each.
The social enterprise has been tasked with providing a “digital accessibility auditing service”.
Since September 2020, regulation has required all public-sector websites to comply with international accessibility standards. Organisations’ adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is monitored by Cabinet Office unit the Central Digital and Data Office, and the central department also plays a role in enforcing compliance with the rules.
Its contract with the Digital Accessibility Centre said: “Our aim is to provide continual support for the development and maintenance of inclusive digital services across the Cabinet Office. The [department] is responsible in part for national enforcement of compliance with the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility regulations and is home to the national monitoring body. The digital services provided by the Cabinet Office must be assured to the highest accessibility standards through rigorous development, testing and adherence to the terms of compliance it regulates.”
Research conducted over the past two years, and published by the CDDO in January, found that about 99% of public sector websites contained accessibility issues representing a potential problem for users with physical or cognitive impairments – as well as a possible breach of the new regulatory requirements.
Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared