Website accessibility is about making websites accessible (easy to use) to all users - irrespective of ability, language, education or technology.
People with various disabilities such as blindness and visual impairments including colour blindness, hearing impairments, learning difficulties and mobility impairments may find using the internet a very frustrating experience.
Many disabled people may use assistive technologies – software and hardware designed to help them interact with websites. Examples of these include screen reader software, screen magnification tools and voice input tools. However, if the website hasn't been designed to work with these devices, then they won't work.
Creating an accessible website is about identifying the different requirements of our users and making information easily available to them, using whichever method is suitable for them. As an additional result of creating an accessible website, it becomes much easier to navigate and read by all customers, pages are faster to download and are easier to read on mobile phones.
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East Riding of Yorkshire Council is committed to providing accessible information via the website and realises that understanding the needs of various user groups is key to empowering all our users to find information in a way that suits them.
What we're trying to achieve
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides standards set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 to assist website designers and developers to create accessible websites. It is a series of checkpoints that a website should meet and is split into three levels of conformance:
Level A (high priority) – all web pages should meet the criteria on this checklist, otherwise many disabled groups may find it very difficult to access content
Level AA (medium priority) – web pages meeting this criteria will mean fewer groups will find it difficult to access content
Level AAA (low priority) – meeting this criteria will ensure the majority of users can easily access our content.
We are working hard to achieve full level AA compliance, with some level AAA content where possible. Due to the size of our website, we have created a rolling programme of accessibility implementation which aims to achieve this target by the Autumn/Winter 2013:
- Ensure entire site (excluding external systems and forms) achieves level A
- Ensure top 50 landing pages achieve level AA (as defined by Google analytics)
- Ensure first 25% of ASK questions (excluding external systems and forms) and other relevant information (e.g. blue badges) achieves level AA
- Ensure site maintains previous standards achieved in Spring/Summer 2013
- Ensure the next 50% of ASK questions achieve level AA
- Ensure site maintains previous standards achieved in Autumn/Winter 2013
- Ensure remaining 25% of ASK questions achieve level AA
- Ensure site maintains previous standards achieved in Spring/Summer 2014
- Ensure remaining site achieves level AA
During this time we will assess any areas of non-conformance such as external systems and forms, and work to improve or provide alternatives where possible.
How we're doing it
We are using a website content management system (CMS) called EasySite which aims to produce level AA pages. We also use a system called SiteImprove which checks this conformance on every page and highlights areas of concern which we can address.
We use online browser validation tools which check we have standards compliant HTML and CSS which help ensure our website works with all browsers and assistive technologies.
To test all our colours have a suitable contrast we use a colour contrast analyser which tests that all text can be viewed on various backgrounds.
We also use a program called SiteImprove which helps us find problems with missing alternate text, broken links, invalid code and CSS, spelling errors and much more.
Working with our customers
Although we're aiming to make sure each page on our site pass these criteria, we believe the best way to achieve accessibility is to work with our customers and find out what works for them.
During the early stages of the design we visited two local disability groups (one for the visually impaired, and one for mixed disabilities) to present our proposed website concept and seek feedback.
We gained some valuable insight into how they use the web, and what features they find useful. We have tried to implement many of those features - such as high contrast and skip links.
Now the new website is live, we will continue to seek feedback from these user groups and would welcome any feedback from other users who have accessibility requirements. If you would like to give us your feedback about the accessibility of this website, or would like to offer suggestions or help us with testing - we would be happy to hear from you. Please contact the webteam (opens in new window).
Committed to learning and improving
We are developing a programme of training to ensure all staff are aware and engaged in improving accessibility across the council. Techniques will be researched, tested, fed back and discussed at weekly team meetings to ensure knowledge is shared across all East Riding websites and that we maintain a standard across all newly developed sites.
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Unfortunately not all pages are completely accessible:
- Find (postcode) MyEastriding - no current alternative
- Find (sitemap) - please use sitemap instead
- Find (A-Z) - please use sitemap or search box instead (see next item)
- Search - this works, but you will have to manually delete the sample text in the search box as this will not auto clear when you click inside the box
- Document libraries (tables of documents mainly used on committees and environmental health pages) - please contact the web team (opens in new window) who will email the document you require.
External East Riding web pages
Some parts of our website link off to web pages which are managed by us, but created by an external company. Although we are working to ensure that all of these sites will in the future be accessible, we understand that in the meantime you may encounter some problems accessing all information. For your convenience, these sites are labelled as:
Website name (external East Riding website)
Some parts of our website link off to forms which are managed by us, but created by an external company. Although we are working to ensure that all of these forms will in the future be accessible, we understand that in the meantime you may encounter some problems accessing all information.
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If you encounter any problems accessing any parts of our site, please contact the web team (opens in new window) who will be happy to try to provide the information you require. We will also use your feedback to try to improve access for future users.
Also, if you have any suggestions as to how we can improve the site, or would like to volunteer to help us on improvement programmes, please contact the web team (opens in new window).
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