Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at the Planning Inspectorate

Using our documents

The Planning Inspectorate publishes documents in a range of formats, including PDF, MS Word, MS Excel and OpenDocument format. We want as many people as possible to be able to use those documents. For example, when we produce a document we make sure we:

  • 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:

  • aren’t marked up in a way that allows screen reader users to understand them
  • aren’t tagged properly - for example, they don’t contain proper headings
  • contain images and charts without a textual description

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:

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: or 0303 444 5000.

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 Planning Inspectorate 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 Planning Inspectorate 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 PDFs are not accessible as they are not tagged properly
  • some PDFs, Word and Excel documents fail on the perceivable and operable WCAG2 criteria
  • for Excel documents, we will ensure we are providing CSV and Open Document alternatives
  • a few of our documents have diagrams. These images do not have a text alternative.
  • some of the documents we publish are produced by third parties. We are not always able to make these fully compliant

Where possible, we try to fix these as soon as we can.

Disproportionate burden

There are thousands of historic PDF documents on our website. We have reviewed and prioritised our documents. We aim to fix those that are most used and are likely to be of specific interest to people with a disability that could reduce their ability to read a document.

The vast majority of the documents are of historic interest only and we do not intend to make them accessible. If you want a particular document in an accessible format email the digital publishing team, and we will see if we can help.

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. 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.

The accessibility 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. For example, we do not plan to fix, any of our casework based notices or decisions, these are legal documents in their own right.

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 June 2020. The test was carried out by Planning Inspectorate staff.

We tested:

  • PDFs
  • MS Word forms
  • Casework documents

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We have put guidance and procedures in place to ensure that all new documents that we produce are accessible. We are working with our partners to help them create accessible documents.

This page was prepared on 15 September 2020. It was last updated on 15 September 2020.