We recognise the importance of providing a website that is accessible by all users. As such we have made every effort to ensure that our site can be easily used by people with disabilities.
To ensure we are as accessible as possible we have made significant changes to achieve a Conformance Level "A" of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Most pages adhere to Conformance Level "A" but the majority of pages achieve a Conformance Level "Double-A" or "Triple-A".
We have introduced the following features to ensure the best use of our site by all of our users.
A hidden menu has been placed at the beginning of each page to allow screen reader users to link to the main areas of the page.
A hidden link has also been provided at the beginning of each page to provide easy access to information on accessibility.
Headings and navigation menus
HTML heading tags are used to convey document structure. H1 tags are used for main titles, H2 tags for subtitles etc.
Navigation menus are marked up as HTML lists. This ensures that the number of links in the list is read out at the start and it can be skipped easily.
All images used in this site include descriptive alt tag attributes. Where an image has no use other than being decorative the alt tag is set to null to allow easy reading of the site by all users.
We have taken care to ensure that the site's font and background colour combinations contrast significantly and are effective in ensuring information is still clear when viewed in different colour combinations.
If you wish to override the site's colours, you can do this by changing your browser settings to your own preference.
Most of the font sizes we use on our site are sizable. You can change the font size to make it either larger or smaller via your browser settings.
You can change the font size in the following ways depending on your browser;
- In Internet Explorer; select View, then Text Size, and then your preferred size.
- In Netscape; select View, then Text Zoom, and then your preferred percentage size.
This site uses cascading style sheets for all visual layout. If your browser or browsing device does not support style sheets at all, the use of structured semantic mark up ensures that the content of each page is still readable and clearly structured.
You can apply your own style sheet onto this website by;
- select Tools, then Internet Options, then Accessibility,
- next click on any or all 3 checkboxes to ignore colours, font styles or font sizes,
- in the same window you can change your style sheet by clicking the checkbox that says, 'format document using my style sheet' then browse to your style sheet and click OK.
- select Edit, then Preferences and then Appearance,
- you will be given the choice to specify your own colours and fonts.
Most data tables have properly scoped header cells, to allow screen readers to render them intelligently. We have also ensured table summaries are used as well as captions where appropriate.
Tables used for layout use none of the above attributes to ensure that they are not confused with data tables.
Forms and fields
All forms fields follow a logical tab sequence to ensure easy navigation.
Most form fields also have ‘label’ and ‘id’ attributes to explicitly associate the form field with its label to allow for easy entry of data.
The use of Java script has been kept to an absolute minimum. Where it is used then all pages and process are still accessible should Java script be turned off.
All links have been written to make sense when taken out of context. Where appropriate, we have also added link title attributes to describe the link in greater detail.
Abbreviation and acronym tags have been used where appropriate to ensure abbreviations and acronyms are given a full textual explanation.
We have also ensured that block quotes are only ever used for identifying quotations. They are not used for formatting purposes.
If you would like to know more about accessibility and the Internet, you may be interested in the following websites:
RNIB website - The Royal National Institute for the Blind
www.w3.org/WAI - W3C accessibility guidelines
www.bcab.org.uk - British Computer Association of the Blind
www.bbc.co.uk/education/betsie - BBC web pages specially constructed to improve clarity for visually impaired users. The website also includes other useful links
http://www.disability.gov.uk/ - The Equality Act 2010
JAWS - a screen reader for use with Windows.
Lynx - a free text-only web browser for blind users with refreshable Braille displays.
Links - a free text-only web browser for visual users with low bandwidth.