Web accessibility is the ease with which someone can use our websites. We want to make sure that our online information and services are available to everyone. We have developed our websites to remove potential barriers to access that may be presented to people with disabilities. We feel that this not only reduces exclusion but also increases the overall usability for everyone else.
Our websites have been developed according to standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), guidelines provided by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and BS8878.
Level of accessibility
Our policy is to comply with Priority level 2 (AA) of the accessibility guidelines (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG1.0 and WCAG2.0). The full policy is available to download at the bottom of this page.
We don't put the WAI AA logo on our home page. We feel that to do that implies that every page on our site is compliant and we just cannot be sure that is true every time a page is viewed.
Known problems on this site
Maps: Our online mapping is currently not compliant with Priority 2 level of the accessibility guidelines. In particular:
- The use of a mouse (or other pointing device) is necessary to specify a point on the map. A keyboard cannot be used.
- Currently we make extensive use of colour to highlight areas on the map. It is planned in the near future to supplement this with the use of patterns.
It is possible to view data in text format as well as on maps but if you have problems accessing data available on our maps you can request it in a more suitable format by emailing the GIS Officer at email@example.com
Invalid html:a few of our pages contain mark-up code that does not validate to the doctype declared. In particular:
- We have published election results as RDF. These pages do not validate as xhtml transitional but we are not aware of any issues with browsers being unable to render the page. We accept that they are technically not WCAG compliant but feel the potential benefits outweigh the risk to inaccessibility.
How to report a problem on this site
We are aware that occasionally we do make mistakes. If you find any of our pages inaccessible to you please use our online form to report a website problem.
Make sure to let us know details of the technology you are using.
We will make every reasonable effort to either remove the problem or provide the information in a format that you find acceptable.
How we implement our policy
Accessibility and plain language principles are written into the training and guidelines that our editors and developers use. These include:
- Trying to keep a consistent layout and navigation system.
- Try to create an ordered structure to web pages and downloadable files.
- Try to provide downloadable files in a system-neutral format such as PDF and where possible in a variety of formats.
- Making sure that all text can be resized by users.
- Use text and background colour combinations with sufficient contrast and which are not known to cause problems for sufferers of colour-blindness.
- Use meaningful alt attributes on all images, and titles on links.
- Design pages to be viewed at a range of screen resolutions.
- Ensure all links use descriptive and meaningful text.
- Provide links for users with screen readers or keyboards to skip to the main content of each page.
- Provide keyboard access to all areas of the site including embedded media players.
- Provide closed captions to video content no later than 3 working days of publishing the video.
- Trying not to use jargon or unnecessarily complicated words and sentences.
- Not to relying on client-side scripts for vital functionality.
- Provide a means to have our website read aloud.
- The Web Accessibility Policy has undergone an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) to look at whether it is likely to need revising in order to address equality-related issues. The EIA is itself reviewed by local organisations promoting the welfare of minority groups including black and minority ethnic groups and people with disabilities.
Web Accessibility Policy (RTF: 1.12Mb / 4 pages)
Web Accessibility Policy (PDF: 287Kb / 4 pages)
Equality Impact Assessment - Web Accessibility Policy 2009 (PDF: 98Kb / 5 pages)
How we check the accessibility of our site
- We regularly run checks using automated software against the live site.
- We conduct manual and automated checks against all of the WCAG1.0 priority 1 and 2 checkpoints for new templates and applications built in-house.
- We conduct manual and automated checks against all of the WCAG1.0 priority 1 and 2 checkpoints on new third-party applications bought in. If non-compliance issues are found we alert the supplier and make recommendations on how to make applications compliant. So far we have found most suppliers more than willing to co-operate.
- We conduct regular automated checks on the whole site against the WCAG 2.0 priority 2 checkpoints.
- We making compliance with our accessibility policy part of all contractual agreements for external development.
- Last, but by no means least, we have had the site design tested by real users with visual and motor-disabilities and implemented changes based upon their findings.
You can help us to improve the site
We always need volunteers with disabilities to help test the site and let us know where we may be creating problems. If you wish to be involved please contact the Web Team by emailing the Web Manager firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.