Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at the RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch)

This policy explains how accessible the documents RAIB publishes on GOV.UK are. It covers pdfs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of document. It doesn’t cover content published on GOV.UK as html: this is covered by the main GOV.UK accessibility statement.

Using our documents

RAIB publishes documents in a range of formats, including pdf and word documents. 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 can’t see them understand what they’re there for
  • avoid using tables, except when we’re presenting data
  • write in plain English wherever possible

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) aren’t accessible.

For example, some of them:

  • aren’t tagged up properly - for example, they don’t contain proper headings
  • aren’t written in plain English due to the nature of the document

This mostly applies to our older reports. These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we don’t currently have any plans to make them accessible.

If you need to access to information in one of these document types, please contact us and ask for an alternative format.

What to do if you can’t 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 within our target of 20 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 aren’t listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact: RAIB Publications Team via

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

RAIB 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 RAIB 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 reasons explained in the following sections.

  • annual reports prior to 2017
  • investigation reports prior to 23 September 2018
  • presentations made on behalf of or to other bodies
  • documents provided by links to other websites such as legal information
  • notes relating to reporting an accident which are primarily for the use of the rail industry

Non compliance with the accessibility regulations

A large proportion of our documents have diagrams. These images may not have a text alternative due to their complex nature, so the information in them isn’t always available to people using a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).

Wherever possible, we’ve added text alternatives for all diagrams published after 23/09/2018 as of September 2020. When we publish new documents we’ll make sure our use of diagrams meets accessibility standards. Some exceptions may be with very old blue prints or schematic diagrams.

Disproportionate burden and Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

Many of our older pdfs and Word documents don’t 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).

Similarly, these older documents do not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 for non-text content, particularly with regard to images and technical diagrams.

We’ve carried out a disproportionate burden assessment and decided that making our older documents accessible would be a disproportionate burden for the organisation.

Some of our pdfs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have pdfs with information on how industry users can inform us of accidents and incidents as required by law, and forms published as Word documents. By the end of September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible html pages which we are currently rolling out.

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 don’t plan to fix:

  • annual reports published before 2017
  • accident investigation reports published before 23 September 2018
  • our index of recommendations which is due to be superseded in the near future

Any new pdf or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

How we tested our documents

We tested a sample of our documents on 19 September 2019 and are currently testing all reports and Safety Digests we’ve published since then.

Although our mission is to inform the rail industry and the general public, our services are not public facing and are predominately for industry which has a legal requirement to inform us of certain accidents and incidents.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We’re making sure that all of our content published after 23 September 2018 is accessible which includes

  • ensuring that all images, figures and tables have a description
  • all documents have a meaningful title
  • figures and images appear where they should in the document
  • assisted technology can tab between fields in the correct reading order

We aim to upload all content in an accessible format within 7 -14 days of publication.

This page was prepared on 23 September 2019. It was last updated on 27 August 2020.