Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at Department for Transport

This policy explains how accessible the documents that the:

  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)
  • Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)
  • Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)

publishes on GOV.UK are. It covers PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of documents. It doesn’t cover content published on GOV.UK as HTML: the main GOV.UK accessibility statement will cover that.

Using our documents

We publish documents in a range of formats, including PDF, MS Word and Excel and OpenDocument format.

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

  • 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 we publish and documents you need to download or fill in to access one of the services we provide should be fully accessible.

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

  • aren’t marked up in a way that allows screen reader users to understand them
  • aren’t tagged properly - for example, they don’t contain proper headings
  • aren’t written in plain English

Some of these are historic documents that are not essential to providing our services. 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 contact us.


Digital Publishing Team
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
United Kingdom

We’ll consider the request and get back to you within 7 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 our digital publishing team.

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

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

The documents DfT, CCAV, DPTAC and OLEV 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 the documents we publish are produced by third parties. We are not always able to make these fully compliant, for example adding alternative text to images or diagrams. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).

We have informed 3rd parties of our accessibility requirements but sometimes we have to publish documents at short notice that are not accessible. Where possible, we try to fix these as soon as we can.

Disproportionate burden

There are thousands of historic PDF documents on our website. We have reviewed and prioritised our documents. We aim to fix those that are most used and are likely to be of specific interest to people with a disability that could reduce their ability to read a document.

The vast majority of the documents are of historic interest only and we do not intend to make them accessible. If you want a particular document in an accessible format email the digital publishing team, and we will see if we can help.

Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

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 2.4.10 (section headings).

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we publish forms as Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible alternative.

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.

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 11 September 2019. The test was carried out by staff at the Department for Transport.

We tested:

  • PDFs
  • MS Word forms

We tested these documents based on how often people look at them and whether they directly relate to services aimed at disabled people.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We have put guidance and procedures in place to ensure that all new documents that we produce are accessible. We are working with our partners to help them create accessible documents.

We are changing the terms and conditions on which designers do business with us to specify that they must supply accessible documents.

We are reviewing and editing older documents to add features to make them more accessible to people using screen readers.

This page was prepared on 19 September 2019. It was last updated on 19 September 2019.