Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

Using our documents

The VMD publishes documents in a range of formats, including:

  • PDF
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • ODT (OpenDocument Text)
  • ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet)

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 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 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
  • 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 us.

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)](https://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/).

Technical information about the accessibility of our documents

The VMD is committed to making our documents accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Non accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non compliance with the accessibility regulations

For all non-compliant documents published since 23 September 2018, we plan to fix these by September 2020.

When we publish new documents, we’ll make sure our documents meet accessibility standards.

A few of our documents have diagrams with no text alternative. The information in them is not available to people using a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content). We will add text alternatives for all diagrams.

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 completely missed, by people with a visual impairment. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.11 (non-text contrast). We will make sure our diagrams meet colour contrast requirements.

A few 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). We will make sure information is not only conveyed through 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). We will make sure forms meet the keyboard requirements.

Some of our documents are published in an 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). We will make sure documents are published with the appropriate structure.

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 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships). We will make sure they have an appropriate structure.

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 success criterion 2.4.6 (headings and labels) or success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships). We will make sure that tables aren’t used to lay out text.

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).

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. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.

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 VMD’s Annual Report and accounts 2017 to 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 VMD’s communications team.

We tested:

  • PDF documents
  • Microsoft Excel documents
  • Microsoft Word documents

We decided to test these types of document, as aside from HTML, these are the most commonly used document formats in the VMD. We decided to test a representative sample of our documents.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

The VMD is:

  • 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
  • testing with disability networks and assistive technology software

This page was prepared on 23 September 2019.