Accessible documents policy

This accessible documents policy applies to information on that is published by the Ministry of Defence.

This policy explains how accessible the documents that the Ministry of Defence publishes on GOV.UK are. It also covers some of the MOD’s subsidiary agencies including; Defence Equipment and Support, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Defence Nuclear Organisation, Defence Safety Authority, Strategic Command, the Oil and Pipelines Agency and Veterans UK.

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 will cover that.

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 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 cannot see them understand what they’re there for
  • avoid using tables, except when we’re presenting data
  • write in plain English

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability:

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 documents are not accessible.

For example, some of them:

  • are just photocopies 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 our Freedom of Information releases, Service Inquiry reports and Byelaw publications. These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we do not currently have any plans to make them accessible.

Some National and Official Statistics may not be published in an accessible format due to resourcing issues caused by the recent COVID-19 lockdown. National or Official Statistics released between September 2018 and September 2020 will not be republished in an accessible format. Details regarding the reasons why are recorded in our disproportionate burden statement. Readers will be notified on the landing page of the corresponding statistic and provided with information on requesting accessible versions if necessary. Producers will be working to release their statistics in accessible formats for the next iteration. However, if you need to access information in one of these document types, you can contact us and ask for an alternative format.

The Military Aviation Authority have checked around 600 documents/pages out of about 1145. Due to resourcing restrictions it is not possible for them to be fully compliant with the accessibility regulations on 23 September 2020. However, they continue to proactively publish fully accessible content and will work through their database and rectify all accessibility issues found in the coming months.

Our Armed Forces Covenant signed pledges are all photocopied documents that are not possible to make fully accessible. We are currently working to amend this format and publish in and open format over the coming months.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Some people may find parts of our websites and services difficult to use because:

  • some pages have poor colour contrast
  • some pages and document attachments are not clearly written in Plain English
  • most older PDF documents aren’t fully accessible to screen reader software
  • you cannot modify the line height or spacing of text
  • some tables in PDFs do not have row headings
  • that everything may not work for keyboard users only
  • that it may not be easy for you to identify and correct errors in forms
  • there are assets that are difficult or impossible to understand or use with a screen reader.

These issues mean that our websites and services may not meet some WCAG AA 2.1 success criteria. We are working on identifying and resolving as many of these issues as soon as possible.

PDFs and other documents

Many documents are not accessible in a number of ways including having irregular tables and missing document structure.

We created a register of PDFs essential to service delivery and have worked through these to ensure that they are accessible.

For all other documents published after September 2018, we are working through the inaccessible documents and plan to fix them all over the coming months.

Disproportionate burden

There are a selection of Ministry of Defence pages that fall under the disproportionate burden category. We cannot guarantee that all of our byelaw documents and Freedom of Information releases are fully accessible. Also, we consider that it would be a disproportionate burden to update PDFs that are 25 pages or more and those that originate from old scanned documentation, examples include our Service Inquiry reports and Armed Forces Covenant pledges.

Accessible versions will be provided if requested.

What to do if you have difficulty using our service

If you need information in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille contact:



Directorate of Defence Communications
Ground Floor, Zone B
Ministry of Defence Main Building

Please tell us:

  • the web address (URL) of the content
  • your name and email address
  • the format you require, for example, audio CD, braille or accessible pdf.

We will consider your request and get back to you within 5 working days of receipt.

Read tips on contacting organisations about inaccessible websites from AbilityNet.

Enforcement procedure

If you contact us with a complaint and you’re not happy with our response contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

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’).

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

The Ministry of Defence is committed to making its websites accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard. The non-compliances and exemptions are listed below.

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

We understand that the 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.

Furthermore, the accessibility regulations do not apply to:

  • pre-recorded time-based media such as video and audio
  • third-party content that is neither funded nor developed by, nor under the control of the Ministry of Defence
  • reproductions of items in heritage collections that cannot be made fully accessible
  • archived content.

We do not plan to fix this content. However, requests can be made to make specific content accessible for those who need it.

How we tested

Testing has been conducted by Ministry of Defence staff. Where they have been checked for compliance, it has been against WCAG 2.0 AA and more recently WCAG 2.1 AA. We also increasingly test for compatibility and usability with assistive technologies such as screen readers.

We last tested a sample of our documents on the 22 September 2020. We tested a sample of our pages prioritising our most viewed and popular pages first.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We are reviewing our approach and working towards meeting the regulations by:

  • developing our accessibility capability across the department
  • continuing to train our staff to create accessible services
  • increasing the use of automated and manual accessibility testing in our development process
  • publishing alternative formats for our users and where feasible making additional adjustments if these are not enough.

We will continue to make our site accessible.

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements please do get in contact with us.

This page was prepared on 17 February 2020. It was last updated on 22 September 2020.