Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at HM Land Registry.

This policy explains how accessible the documents HM Land Registry publishes on GOV.UK are. It covers PDFs, spreadsheets and text documents. HTML documents are covered by the main GOV.UK accessibility statement.

An accessible document is a document that can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

A non-accessible document is a document which some people find hard or impossible to use.

Using our documents

We publish documents in a range of formats, including:

  • PDF
  • Microsoft Word
  • CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
  • OpenDocument

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

  • provide an HTML option where possible
  • tag headings and other parts of the document properly, so screen readers can understand the page structure
  • use alt text to describe 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

Making our documents accessible

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

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

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

This mostly applies to our policy papers and consultations. These types of documents are exempt from the regulations. We do not have any plans to make them accessible.

If you can’t use one of our documents

If you need to access information in a document type that is not accessible, you can send us a message to ask for an alternative format.

Reporting accessibility problems with one of our documents

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our documents. You can send us a message if you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements.

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 HM Land Registry 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 documents have images which do not 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. We’ll make sure our images meet accessibility standards when we publish new documents.

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

Many of our older PDFs and Word documents do not 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 (name, role value).

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have forms published as Microsoft Word documents. We will fix these as soon as we can where possible.

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 don’t plan to fix our annual report and accounts 2013 to 2014.

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 25 February 2020. The test was based on how often people look at them and whether they are essential to providing our services.

We tested:

  • PDF documents
  • Microsoft Word documents

These are the main type of non-HTML document formats that we publish.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

To improve accessibility, we’re:

  • updating corporate Word and PDF templates to be accessible
  • replacing PDFs with HTML
  • publishing reports in HTML alongside PDFs where possible
  • providing OpenDocument and CSV alternatives to Excel spreadsheets
  • testing documents with assistive technology software

We will continue to review and update this policy as our work progresses.

This page was prepared on 25 February.