Accessibility Guidance

Ongoing Review

The first accessibility review was carried out in July 2020. Further reviews should be made after major changes and at least yearly.

A detailed accessibility check would be a disproportionate burden on Parish Council funds. So a basic check is appropriate, as described by the Government Digital Service guidance Doing a basic accessibility check if you cannot do a detailed one. Also, it would be extremely useful if the Council could find a regular user of assistive technologies to review the site.

Using Alternative Text

New images on the site should be reviewed for alternative text. The general principle is that the content and function of the image should be available to visually impaired users. Alternative text can be presented either with the alt attribute of the image (using the Alternative Text field of the image in the WordPress media item), or within visible text associated with the image. Here is some general guidance.

  • Accurately represent the same content and function of the image.
  • Be succinct. Typically no more than a few words are necessary, though rarely a short sentence or two may be appropriate.
  • Do not replicate text already specifically associated with the image, such as a caption.
  • Do not use the phrases “image of …” or “graphic of …” to describe the image. Only mention that an image is a photograph or illustration if the fact is important in the context.

Here are some clarifications.

  • The best alternative text for portraits is usually the simple identity of the person. Eg “Katerina O’Malley”.
  • For an image used as a link there must be something within the link describing what is being linked to. If there is no visible text in the link then the image must have alternative text to describe the purpose of the link, rather than the content of the image. Eg An image of a navigational arrow should have alternative text describing the navigational function rather than the arrow image. A visually impaired user needs to know what the link does rather than what it looks like.
  • When describing with alternative text, do not include additional information that is not present in the image. Eg The alternative text of the Red Lion pub facade should not say “Red Lion pub from Main Street”, because you cannot tell directly from the image that it is on Main Street. The image of the pub on the Amenities page does not even show the roadside.
  • Images purely for visual decoration should not have alternative text.
  • Maps are not required by legislation to have alternative text unless they are specifically for the user to navigate to a location. However, it may be appropriate to describe some information from a map in text. Eg Where the main purpose is to show a boundary. If the description would be lengthy then it may be appropriate to use a separate page.

This is a summary of the guidance on the WebAIM Alternative Text guidance page.

Making Text Links Accessible

When a link has visible text, it is that text which gets narrated by screen readers. Users often step through a page’s links only, so it is important that every link’s text describes its purpose. Do not use links like “Get the weather forecast here“. Instead, use “See the weather forecast“.

Avoiding Images of Text Documents

Textual information within images is not readily available to screen readers and should be avoided. Wherever possible, alternatives should be sought.

  • Posters and leaflets may be available digitally.
  • Information may be replicated on a website.
  • It may be possible to use optical character recognition to digitize a text image.
  • Small quantities of textual imagery could be manually transcribed.

Making Documents Accessible

It is much better to include content in a webpage than to link to a document. Links to lots of documents is far from ideal, but understandable with such a dispersed authorship. So here is guidance on making documents as accessible as possible.

First of all, it is much better to include PDF files rather than Microsoft Word documents. Native support for rendering documents depends on many factors, but PDF presentation is streamlined on most modern systems. Word has had a built-in converter to PDF for years, so you can continue to compose documents in Word and retain them as the masters. But you can hugely aid accessibility by following a few guidelines in production and conversion.

  • Set the proofing language of the Normal style in the Word template used for the documents. It should be English (United Kingdom).
  • Use the built-in heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc) for headings and subheadings, rather than manually changing font and paragraph properties. Change the properties of the heading style itself if necessary. This will help assistive readers to understand the document structure.
  • Use tables only for tabular data, not for document structure.
  • Take full advantage of Word’s reviewing functions. It has built-in spelling and grammar checkers. Recent versions have a built-in accessibility checker and a narrator (called Read Aloud).
  • Avoid page footnotes.
  • For images, include alternative text using Format Picture, Alt Text [or Format Picture, Layout & Properties, Alt Text, Description (not Title) on older versions of Word]. Use the guidance above on alternative text.
  • Avoid floating images.
  • When saving the document as PDF, click on Options in the save dialog and set Document structure tags for accessibility.

This is a summary of the guidance from the ADOD Project’s Authoring Techniques for Accessible Office Documents and Microsoft’s Create accessible PDFs pages.