One of the many changes brought by the Equality Act 2010 is more help for disabled people online.

It is unlawful to treat disabled candidates less favourably when shortlisting or selecting, so online recruitment has to be accessible to users with disabilities. Employers may have to adjust their usual website arrangements to make them compliant with the law. This may mean providing an auxiliary aid for disabled website users.

The new law lowers the threshold at which the obligation to make “reasonable adjustments” arises. Previously, reasonable adjustments were required only where a practice, policy or procedure made it “impossible or unreasonably difficult” for disabled people to apply for job vacancies online. The test is now whether a disabled person is placed at a “substantial disadvantage”. The change may make employers and website owners more vulnerable to discrimination claims from both potential and actual job applicants.

What is “reasonable” depends on the service offered, the effectiveness of the adjustment in overcoming the disability, its cost and the resources available to the service provider to make it.

Crucially, employers and website owners must ensure recruitment information is in an accessible format. For example, they may have to make content available in varying text sizes, colours or fonts, or as an audio file.

The new legislation makes it clear that service providers cannot pass on the cost of making reasonable adjustments to users. So charging a visually-impaired candidate for a Braille application form will be unlawful.

Various best practice guides will emerge as the new act beds down. One example is the British standard on web accessibility, expected from the BSI in November. The draft has helpful suggestions for compliance, such as appointing an individual or department to oversee website accessibility; involving disabled people in website development; and considering the needs of users with specific physical or learning disabilities. Although not legally binding, compliance with the standard will be helpful evidence in the event of a legal challenge.

When the BSI standard is published, recruiters should check their website’s accessibility.