Access 8878: Web Accessibility - Code of Practice

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Getting started with BS 8878

Here's a quick guide to get you started, it provides a summary of the BS 8878 contents.

Documenting decisions is an important part of BS 8878 and is something that will need to be done throughout the development process.

Scope (Clause 1)

This clause provides a list of recommendations that BS 8878 covers, and the types of organizations that should consider using the standard.

Normative references (Clause 2)

This brief clause makes note of the normative references that can be found in annex A of the document.

Terms, Definitions and abbreviations (Clause 3)

Brief clause as per title

Organizational web accessibility policy (Clause 4.3)

This policy sets out the organization's commitment to web accessibility.

Product accessibility policy (Clause 4.4 & 4.5)

This policy is based on the organizational policy, but specific to the individual product. Each web product needs its own accessibility policy.

Defining the accessibility statement (Clause 4.4 & 4.6)

The accessibility statement for each product gives users information about how they can get the best experience with the web product. This will include highlighting special features in the product, how the user can customise their browser for a better experience, and also any known accessibility limitations that the product may have. The statement will also include a way for people with disabilities to feedback comment, and complain about the product.

Note that the accessibility statement can be written from the outset, but may evolve during the development process.

Creating an accessibility statement

Making decisions on accessibility (Clause 5)

How accessible the finished product is will be influenced by a number of factors. Discussion of these factors is both critical to the success of the product and necessary for conformance.

Decisions need to be documented so that a record of the rationale for making them is available.

This documenting process also forces organizations into thinking carefully about why certain decisions have been made. Some decisions may adversely affect the accessibility of a product may have been necessary for functional reasons or due to prohibitive costs.

Factors that may affect the accessibility of the product may include:

  • How practical it is to provide greater accessibility
  • Financial implications
  • Disruption that the work may cause
  • The degree and extent to which the work will benefit users with disabilities.

These discussion documents may be used to set precedents for future discussions, or to justify why decisions were made when dealing with third parties.

Sixteen steps (Clause 6)

The standard presents 16 steps to be taken from the pre-start to post-launch of the web product development.

The following image shows the 16 steps required for conformance to BS 8878. These steps can be grouped into 7 different stages.

(image or movie showing the 16 steps grouped into 7 stages)

  1. Ensuring you have the right research and understanding in the initial conception and requirements analysis for the web product: see steps 1 to 6 (6.1 to 6.6).
  2. Making strategic choices based on that research: see steps 7 to 11 (6.7 to 6.11).
  3. The decision whether to create or procure the web product in-house or contract out externally: see step 11 (6.11).
  4. The production of the web product: see steps 12 and 13 (6.12 and 6.13).
  5. The evaluation of the product: see step14 (6.14).
  6. The launch of the web product: see step 15 (6.15).
  7. Post-launch maintenance: see step 16 (6.16).

Guidelines (Clause 7)

This part of the document includes information and references to established guidelines including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 (link), authoring guidelines, Rich Internet Applications (link to WAI ARIA), Guidance for Mobile devices, IPTV, and guidance for designing interfaces for older people.

WCAG 2.0 Guidelines

ATAG Guidelines

Assuring accessibility throughout a product's lifecycle (Clause 8)

This is an important part of the document that discusses the specifics of:

  • Summarising the approach (8.1)
  • gathering information about the needs of disabled users (8.2),
  • creating a test plan (8.3),
  • summarising the testing methods including user, manual, and automated testing (8.4),
  • post launch programme of testing (8.5)


  • Annex A Normative references
  • Annex B Terms, definitions and abbreviations
  • Annex C Disability and the law
  • Annex D Business case for making web products accessible
  • Annex E Examples of a web accessibility policy and web accessibility statement
  • Annex F Allocation of responsibilities
  • Annex G The accessibility challenges of different types of web product
  • Annex H How disabled and older people experience web products
  • Annex I Examples of web product purposes, audiences, user goals, user tasks and degrees of user-experience for those tasks
  • Annex J Measuring user success
  • Annex K The user-personalized approach to accessibility
  • Annex L Procurement of authoring tools, software, components or web-services
  • Annex M A guide to dealing with correspondence and complaints about a web product's accessibility
  • Annex N Suggested user profiles
  • Annex O A guide to user testing with disabled and older people

Access 8878 is the leading resource for BS 8878

Web Accessibility – Code of Practice Access 8878 is the leading resource for BS 8878 (this link will open in a new browser window)Cookies Policy