Accessible documents policy

This policy explains how accessible the documents the Ministry of Justice publishes on GOV.UK are.

This policy 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.

Using our documents

The Ministry of Justice publishes documents in a range of formats, including:

  • PDF
  • PDF forms
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • ODT (OpenDocument Text)
  • ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet)
  • CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
  • Zip

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

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 scanned documents and aren’t marked up in a way that allows screen readers to understand them
  • are not tagged up properly - for example, they do not contain proper headings
  • are not written in plain English
  • are online forms that are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard
  • contain images and charts without a textual description
  • include complex tables
  • are forms which have guidance in a separate PDF to help completion

This mostly applies to our:

  • corporate reports
  • research and analysis reports
  • statutory guidance
  • forms
  • statistics

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

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

We’ll consider the request and get back to you in 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 not listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact our content 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

The Ministry of Justice 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 the Ministry of Justice 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 diagrams and/or tables. Some of these do not have a text alternative, so the information in them isn’t available to people using a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).

Some of our documents do not identify headings, lists or data tables correctly. This means users using screen readers may not be able to follow the structure of a document, which in turn may affect their ability to access and understand the information. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).

In some of our documents colour is used to differentiate types of information. This means users who cannot see will not be able understand the meaning the colour is supposed to convey. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.1 (sensory characteristics).

Some of our documents and pages contain images of text to convey information, rather than plain text. This means users either using a text-only browser or using assistive technology may not be able to understand the image of text. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.5 (images of text).

Some of our documents and pages do not have titles that describe the topic or purpose of the page. This is often the case where we have older pages created some time ago. This makes it hard for users to navigate and find the content they need. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.2.

Some links in our documents do not contain context in the link text. This makes it hard for users using assistive technology to understand what the link is for, and where they would be directed to if clicked. This doesn’t meet the WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4 (link purpose (in context)).

Some of our documents are not structured properly. This means they may not be accessible for users using screen readers or other assistive technology. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2.

When we publish new documents we aim to make sure they are accessible. We plan to fix accessibility issues with content that’s in scope of the accessibility regulations by September 2020.

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 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 the Ministry of Justice Annual Report 2017-2018.

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 in September 2019. The test was carried out by the Ministry of Justice web team (External Communications).

We tested:

  • PDF documents
  • Microsoft Excel documents
  • Word documents
  • Open Docs

We decided to test these types of document, as aside from HTML, these are the most commonly used document formats in MOJ. We tested these documents based on how often people look at them.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

The Ministry of Justice is:

  • putting guidance and procedures in place to ensure that all new documents that we produce are accessible
  • working with our partners to help them create accessible documents
  • updating corporate Word and PDF templates to an accessible format
  • creating reports as HTML rather than PDF where possible
  • raising awareness across the organisation and encouraging the use of clear English in reports
  • training staff on meeting accessibility standards

This page was prepared on 20 September 2019. It was last updated on 23 September 2019.