Warning

The Right Decisions platform technology complies with WCAG AA standards (accessibility statement).

Accessibility of content is the responsibility of toolkit owners.

You should ensure that any content you produce complies with accessibility legislation and standards. This means making sure that any digital documents, websites, apps, patient information etc... can be accessed by as many people as possible, e.g., those with impaired vision or hearing, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities. 

Checklist

Some key accessibility issues to check in your toolkit are detailed below. You should also refer to your organisation’s guidance and policies on accessible and inclusive content and communication.

  1. Use informative, unique page titles

Since your page title is the first text that a user is likely to read, it is important that it concisely and accurately describes the contents of a page. You should also ensure that the text of your page title does not differ too much from the text of the link that the user clicked on to reach your page.

  1. Use headings to convey meaning and structure

Use of appropriate headings and ensuring that heading levels are used consistently are key to optimising your webpage’s accessibility. Effective use of headings allows any user to navigate through the content on your page in the correct order.

Use short headings to group related paragraphs and clearly describe the sections. Good headings provide a summary of the content.

  1. Provide meaningful alternative text for images

Alternative text (alt text) is the text given in the content management system when incorporating an image, to describe its contents. When an image serves any purpose on a page (i.e. it is not purely decorative), it requires suitable alt text to clearly describe it so that users who cannot see the image properly can still understand the content of the page. For purely decorative images, you can use alt text to let the user know the image is decorative.

  1. Add captions and transcripts to multimedia content

For audio-only content, such a podcast, provide a transcript. For audio and visual content, such as training videos, also provide captions. Include in the transcripts and captions the spoken information and sounds that are important for understanding the content.

  1. Use appropriate colour contrast

Some users may have difficulty differentiating between colours, while others may not be able to see colours at all. If you are putting text on top of a coloured background, there should be high contrast between the foreground text colour and background text colour to ensure the text stands out to all. Certain colour combinations, such as red and green, should always be avoided. 

Use a colour contrast checker such as WebAim to check that your colour choices meet accessibility requirements.

  1. Ensure PDF and Office documents are accessible

Your pages should only provide downloadable documents (such as a PDF or Office documents) when the content within the download is purely supplementary. Any key information within the document should be stated in the webpage’s regular body of text. 

  1. Ensure a user can tab through the page

If a user is only able to use a keyboard to navigate through your page, they need to be able to tab through the page in a logical order. You may need to reorder content, buttons or links on your page if you cannot tab through your page in a logical order.

  1. Make link text meaningful

Users reading content with a screen reader may read links separately to the page's main body of content. This allows blind or partially-sighted users to tab through the page without having to read all the text. Your page should not include non-descriptive links, such as ‘click here’ or ‘more information’, as these will be confusing and meaningless if read out of context.

Write link text so that it describes the content of the link target. Indicate relevant information about the link target, such as document type and size, for example: ‘Acute coronary syndrome pathway (PDF, 20MB)’.

  1. Explain acronyms

As far as possible, avoid abbreviations and acronyms that may be familiar to you and to specialist / experienced colleagues but not necessarily to novice users.  If you must use abbreviations, offer an “Abbreviations” section.

  1. Provide clear instructions

Ensure that instructions and guidance to the user are clear, easy to understand and avoid unnecessarily complex language.

  1. Keep content clear and concise.

Use simple language and formatting, as appropriate for the context. Use headings and bullet points or numbered lists to break up the text and make the key messages or actions stand out for the user.

Providing an accessibility statement

Public sector websites and mobile apps must include a clear accessibility statement that explains how accessible it is. You should include reference to the RDS accessibility statement which confirms that the RDS technology complies with W3C AA standards. Add to this information about the accessibility of content in your toolkit, highlighting any limitations. You can use this model statement to help you.  

You can offer to provide information in alternative formats, such as an audio recording. You need to show that you have made reasonable adjustments where possible.  

Testing

You can test accessibility of your toolkit using a tool such as Wave or Powermapper (free trial available). Check that any tools you use are approved by your local IT Department.

It can also be helpful to test your resources using a screen reader.

  • For websites, some free screen-readers are available such as Webanywhere or the Google Chrome extensions ChromeVis and ChromeVox.
  • Apple devices have an inbuilt screenreader called Voiceover. On Android devices, the inbuilt screenreader is called Talkback.

Check that any of these tools are approved by your local IT Department.

Useful resources

This Government webpage gives detailed information about what accessibility means. It explains how, when, and why you must follow the guidance and lists any exceptions and how this will be monitored and enforced. In attaining the standards, content created will comply with the responsibilities under the Equalities Act 2010 and the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.  

TURAS Learn offers useful guidance and resources on writing accessible digital content. The M365 Skills Hub also provides guidance and learning resources on accessible content.

The Web Accessibility Institute has excellent guidance on writing accessible content for the web, with practical examples of accessible and non-accessible content in each case.

Last reviewed: 04/09/2023

Next review date: 30/04/2024

Author(s): Ann Wales, Shona McQuistan.

Version: 1.0

Author email(s): Ann.Wales3@nhs.scot, Shona.McQuistan@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

Approved By: Healthcare Improvement Scotland Evidence Directorate SMT

Reviewer name(s): Ann Wales.