Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at Cabinet Office

This policy explains how accessible the documents Cabinet Office publishes on GOV.UK are. It covers PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of document. It doesn’t cover content published on GOV.UK as HTML: the main GOV.UK accessibility statement covers that.

Using our documents

Cabinet Office publishes documents in a range of formats, including PDFs, ODTs, Excel Sheets, CSVs and PowerPoint slides.

We want as many people as possible to be able to use those documents. For example, when we produce a document we try to:

  • provide an HTML option where possible
  • tag headings and other parts of the document properly, so screen readers can understand the page structure
  • make sure we include alt text alongside non-decorative images, so people who can’t see them understand what they’re there for
  • avoid using tables, except when we’re presenting data
  • write in plain English

How accessible our documents are

New documents and documents you need to download to access one of our services should be fully accessible.

However, we know that some of our documents (published before 23 September 2018) aren’t accessible. For example, some of them:

  • aren’t tagged up properly – for example, they don’t contain proper headings
  • aren’t written in plain English

This mostly applies to our PDFs and other documents published before 23 September 2018, audio and video content and archived parts of our site.

These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we don’t currently have any plans to make them accessible.

But if you need to access information in one of these document types, you can contact us and ask for an alternative format.

What to do if you can’t use one of our documents

If you need a document we’ve published in a different format:

We’ll consider the request and get back to you within 15 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with one of our documents

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our documents. If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact us.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about the accessibility of our documents

Cabinet Office is committed to making our documents accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The documents Cabinet Office publishes are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Non-accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non compliance with the accessibility regulations

  • Some of our PDFs are not accessible as they are not tagged properly
  • Some PDFs and Excel documents fail on the perceivable and operable WCAG2 criteria
  • For PDFs that fall within this category and do not represent a disproportionate burden (published after 23 September 2018), we will look at updating them by September 2020
  • For Excel documents, we will ensure we are providing CSV and Open Document alternatives
  • Some of our documents are scans. We will update these with accessible documents by September 2020

A few of our documents have diagrams. These images don’t have a text alternative, so the information in them isn’t available to people using a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).

We plan to add text alternatives for all diagrams by September 2020. When we publish new documents we’ll make sure our use of diagrams meets accessibility standards.

Disproportionate burden

  • Some of our PDFs are not accessible but would be a disproportionate burden to update, particularly those which are extremely long and used by a low number of people
  • These people are able to contact the above form if they need an accessible version of the documents
  • PDFs fail on the perceivable and operable WCAG2 criteria

Many of our older PDFs and Word documents don’t meet accessibility standards – for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2.

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.

The accessibility regulations don’t require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services. For example, we don’t plan to fix the PDFs on the Civil Service Reform page. Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

How we tested our documents

We last tested a sample of our documents on 20 September 2019. The test was carried out by Cabinet Office.

We tested:

  • PDFs
  • HTMLs
  • Open Docs
  • Scans
  • Excel Docs
  • Powerpoints

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

This page was prepared on 20 September 2019. It was last updated on 20 September 2019.