digital images

An Introduction to Accessibility

Table of Contents

Why do we need to think about accessibility?

  • Accessibility is important for public sector authorities because it means services can be accessed by everyone.
  • Just like a shop or building would have wheelchair access, or allows assistance dogs to enter, this also applies to websites, online systems and documents.
  • If people with visual impairments, for example, cannot access information on a website then it is breaking the law.
  • This means we need to be mindful when making content for the website or for public use, that we make it accessible for everyone.

What is digital accessibility?

  • Our websites and online systems need to be designed so they can be accessed by everyone.
  • This includes people with disabilities such as visual impairments, motor difficulties, cognitive impairment or hearing problems.
  • We need to make sure all our web content, documents and media are designed in a way that they don’t prevent anyone from accessing the information.
  • An example of this might be people who have visual impairments, they are likely to use a screen reader (technology that reads the content of webpages and documents to the user). People with motor difficulties might access our website using a special mouse or speech recognition software.
  • If we don’t set up our websites and documents in an accessible way, these customers can be prevented from accessing important information about our services.
  • Providing accessible content is beneficial for everyone at the end of the day and it makes content easier to access.

Accessibility and the Law

  • New regulations, that came into force in 2020, mean public sector organisations have a legal duty to make sure websites and apps meet accessibility requirements.
  • This is called the “Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018”
  • If we don’t set up our websites and any documents published on them to meet this legislation, we are breaking the law.
  • The accessibility legislation covers all our council websites, including our staff sites – the Hub and MyCouncilWorks and it also covers all documents that we publish online. 

What does this mean for me?

  • Website accessibility legislation doesn’t just affect staff who have a direct involvement with the website – it affects:
  • anyone who produces documents for their job that will be published online
  • any documents made by consultants for your service to be published online
  • anyone creating media such as videos and presentations for publishing online
  • This includes documents, policies, plans and media created for staff to be published on the Hub and MyCouncilWorks as well as our external websites.