Accessible documents policy

What Natural England is doing on accessibility and how it plans to meet the accessibility regulations.

Accessible documents at Natural England

This policy explains how accessible the documents Natural England 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. That’s covered by the main GOV.UK accessibility statement.

Using our documents

Natural England publishes documents in a range of formats, including:

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

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
  • avoid using tables except when presenting data
  • write in plain English
  • include alt text alongside non-decorative images
  • tag headings and other parts of the document
  • make document titles clear and meaningful
  • use descriptive link text so people understand the purpose of each link
  • avoid writing instructions that rely on visual cues

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 accessible.

We know that some of our older documents (published before 23 September 2018) are not accessible. For example, some of them:

  • are not written in plain English
  • are online forms that are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard
  • are not tagged correctly - for example, they do not contain heading structure
  • contain images without a textual description
  • include complex tables
  • are forms which have guidance in a separate PDF to help completion

This mostly applies to documents such as:

  • corporate reports
  • technical guidance
  • consultations and their supporting documents
  • statutory guidance
  • forms
  • statistics

Some types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we do not currently have any plans to make them accessible. 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 in a different format to the one we’ve published contact:

  • email enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk
  • call 0300 060 3900 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm)
  • write to Natural England, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester, WR5 2NP

We’ll consider the request and get back to you in 10 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 are not listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact our content team: contentteam@defra.gov.uk.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission 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.

Technical information about the accessibility of our documents

Natural England 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 Natural England publishes are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 AA standard. The non-accessible sections are listed below.

Non-accessible content

The content listed below is not accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Some of our documents have diagrams that do not have a text alternative. The information in these diagrams is not 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 have diagrams that do not meet the colour contrast ratio of at least 3:1. These diagrams may be difficult to see or missed by people with a visual impairment. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.11 (non-text contrast).

Some of our documents have diagrams that use colour as the only means of conveying information. The information in these diagrams may not be perceived by users with colour deficiencies. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.1 (use of colour).

Some of our forms do not have page functionality available for using a keyboard. This content cannot be operated through a keyboard or keyboard interface. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.1.1 (keyboard).

Some of our documents are published in unstructured PDF. Headings, list items and paragraphs may not be recognised by a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).

Some of our spreadsheets may not be clearly structured with labelled tables, and labelled headings. Columns headings may be blank. Workbooks tabs may not have a clear title. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).

Some of our documents are published using tables to lay out text in columns on the page. This often hides content from the navigation pane or table of contents. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.6 (headings and labels) or success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).

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 1.3.1 (info and relationships).

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. We plan to fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages by September 2020.

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 corporate reports.

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 Defra group content team. We manually sampled and tested a sample of pages to find accessibility issues.

We tested:

  • PDF documents
  • Microsoft Excel

We tested these types of document as they’re the most commonly used in Natural England apart from HTML.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

Natural England is:

  • updating corporate report templates to an accessible format
  • creating documents as HTML rather than PDF, where possible
  • changing guidance documents from PDF to HTML and making them task-based
  • raising accessibility awareness across the organisation
  • converting documents to HTML as they come up for review, where possible
  • getting staff trained

This page was prepared on 18 September 2019. It was last updated on 18 September 2019.