Accessible documents policy

This policy explains how accessible the documents that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publishes on GOV.UK are.


This policy explains how accessible the documents the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publishes on GOV.UK are.

It covers PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of document. It does not cover content published on GOV.UK as HTML – the main GOV.UK accessibility statement covers that.

DWP publishes content for the following organisations on GOV.UK and this policy covers their documents:

  • the Independent Case Examiner (ICE)
  • the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC)
  • the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC)

Using our documents

The majority of our new documents are published in HTML format. Older content and content that is not appropriate for HTML format is published in a range of formats, including:

  • PDF
  • Word
  • Excel
  • CSV
  • Open Document Text (ODT) files
  • Open Document Spreadsheets (ODS)

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

  • provide a plain text webpage (‘HTML’) option where possible
  • tag headings and other parts of the document properly, so screen readers can understand the page structure
  • make sure we describe non-decorative images, so people who can’t see them can understand what they’re there for
  • use plain English whenever possible

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) are not accessible. For example, some of them:

  • are photocopies or in a print format and are not marked up in a way that allows screen reader users to understand them
  • are not tagged up properly – for example, they do not contain proper headings
  • are not written in plain English

This mostly applies to older documents that are not essential to providing our services. These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we do not 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 cannot use 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, please contact us.

You can also contact us if you need a document we’ve published in an accessible format.

Contact DWP about accessibility

Enforcement procedure

In England, Wales and Scotland, 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

DWP 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 DWP 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 not accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

We publish a number of guides for DWP staff and providers on GOV.UK for transparency reasons. The guides are published as PDFs and may not be fully accessible, for example they may not contain proper headings, be properly tagged or have alternative text for images. These guides are not essential to providing our services and are available to staff and providers who need to use them in an accessible format on the DWP intranet and extranets for providers. These guides are very long and frequently updated. We have decided to prioritise making more essential content accessible at the moment. We will investigate how we could publish this guidance in a more accessible format on GOV.UK.

Some research reports published since 23 September 2018 may not be fully accessible, for example they may not contain proper headings, be properly tagged or have alternative text for images. These reports have very low usage and we have decided to prioritise making more essential content accessible at the moment.

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

Some of our older PDFs and other documents do not meet accessibility standards, for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role value).

The accessibility regulations do not 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 do not plan to fix PDF copies of our older annual reports and accounts.

How we tested our documents

We test documents for accessibility before we publish them, using both manual and website testing tool checks. User feedback is also used to identify and correct any accessibility issues.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We publish in HTML format wherever possible to make our content as accessible as possible. If we cannot publish an HTML version at the same time as a PDF, we aim to add an HTML version within 10 working days.

This page was prepared on 22 September 2020.

It was last updated on 13 September 2021.