Website Accessibility Guidance

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, come in to effect on 23 September 2020. 

This means that all public sector websites must meet certain accessibility criteria in order to ensure that their website is accessible to people with disabilities such as:

  • blindness or impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

Extensive work has been carried out to ensure that the Council website meets the legislative requirements and additionally accessibility accreditation is being sought from the Shaw Trust.  We are now committed to ensuring that all content, documents (pdfs, word, forms etc) published to the website will meet accessibility regulations.   

All services need to ensure that the documents they need to publish on the Council website are accessible.  Key aspects to consider in documents are:

  • Headings:  Make sure appropriate headings and heading structure are used to break up the document
  • Colour and contrast: Make sure that text and background can be clearly read
  • Alt text: All images must have 'alt text' added so they can be read by screen readers
  • Tables: These must have clearly labelled columns and rows and no merged cells
  • Links:  All hyperlinks must be from informative text for screen readers. Avoid 'click here' for links.

This page provides guidance and information, including external links, on how to make content and documents accessible. 

For those employees who are networked and have Connections login details, you can engage with the Accessibility Connections community. 

Creating accessible PDF's from Word documents

PDF’s and other attachments such as Powerpoint, Word and Excel should only be used for web content when the content cannot be added as one or two pages or a form, for example, if the document is a report with many pages you can create an accessible pdf.

To produce an accessible pdf there are a number of steps you must take when creating the initial content in Word or Excel, etc:


Heading Styles

Create a uniform heading structure through use of styles in Word. This allows screen readers to navigate a document and improves accessibility for everyone.

Start a new line to create a heading, or select text to change to a heading.

Open the Home tab, and choose the appropriate heading in the Styles panel.

Headings 1, 2, or 3 can also be assigned using Ctrl + Alt + 1, 2, or 3, respectively.

Accessibility headers

Heading structure should follow a logical, numerical order, and example of this can be seen below. It should always begin with a heading 1.



<h2>Shades of Red



<h2>Shades of Blue



<h2>Shades of Green




Adding Alternative Text

Images can be given appropriate alternative text in Word. Alt text is read by a screen reader in a Word file and should remain intact when exporting to HTML or PDF.

Accessibility alt text

Right-click on the image and select Format Picture. A dialog will appear.

Select the Layout & Properties icon and choose Alt Text.

Enter appropriate Alt text only in the Description field (not the Title field).



If possible don’t use columns but if it is unavoidable always use true columns. Don’t create columns with Tab.

Accessibility columns

Select the Layout tab on the ribbon.

Select Columns in the Page Setup group.

Choose the number of columns.



Word automatically creates a hyperlink when a user pastes a full URL onto a page. These may not make sense to screen reader users, so make sure the link text is unique and meaningful.


Select a hyperlink, right click, and select Hyperlink or hit Ctrl + k.

Change the text in the Text to Display field to a more meaningful description.

Accessibility hyperlinks


Data Tables

Accessible tables need a clear table structure and table headers to help guide a screen reader user.

Select the Insert tab on the ribbon, then select Table > Insert Table.

To add table headers to the first row, select Table Tools > Layout on the ribbon, then choose the Repeat Header Rows option in the Data section. Avoid splitting or merging cells.

Accessibility data tables

Accessibility data tables

Options in the Design tab may be used to change appearance but will not provide the necessary accessibility information.


Accessibility Checker

Word includes an accessibility resource that identifies accessibility issues.

Select File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.

Accessibility checker

The checker presents accessibility errors, warnings, and tips for making repairs.

Select specific issues to see Additional Information at the bottom of the task pane.


Converting a Word document to PDF 

Once you have an accessible Word document it is important that you follow these instructions to maintain accessibility when converting the document to PDF:

Select File > Save As > browse to a relevant location > select 'PDF' in the Save as type select list and click on the Options button:

PDF save as options

Check the 'Document structure tags for accessibility' checkbox in Options > click 'OK' > click 'Save':

Option selection


Other Principles

  • Ensure that font size is sufficient, around 12 points.
  • Provide sufficient contrast.
  • Don’t use colour as the only way to convey meaning.
  • Provide a table of contents for long documents.
  • Use simple language.
  • Break up your document to make it more readable. Use bullet points, numbered steps and meaningful subheadings.

Making your PDF accessible by adding a title and language

Example 1: Setting the document title in the metadata and specifying that the title be displayed in the title bar using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

This example is shown with Adobe Acrobat Pro. There are other software tools that perform similar functions. See the list of other software tools in PDF Authoring Tools that Provide Accessibility Support.

Open the PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Select File > Properties
  2. Select the Description tab to view the metadata in the document, including the document information dictionary
  3. Modify the Title field to add or change the document's Title entry

accessibility title

Note that, with Adobe Acrobat installed, you can also enter and read the data properties information from the desktop. Access the file's context menu, choose Properties, and select the PDF tab. Any information you type or edit in this dialog box also appears in the Document Properties Description when you open the file.

To display the document title in the title bar of a user agent:

  1. Select File > Properties
  2. Select the Initial View tab
  3. In the Window Options section, select Document Title in the Show pull-down list.

accessibility initial view

The title is displayed in the title bar, as shown in the image below.

accessibility title display

This example is shown in operation in the working example of displaying document title in the title bar.


Within the Advanced tab set the language to en-GB.

Accessibility language

 Accessibility Video Training 

The video link takes you to a set of seven videos produced by Microsoft to support making Word documents accessible.  

Word Guidance

To check accessibility of your Word document go to File > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility

The accessibility checker will appear on the right hand side of the page - select each of the issues listed and you will see Additional information that explains how to resolve the issue, or you can search this wiki for step by step guidance on how to resolve the issues.

accessibility checker

Word - Missing alt text - table

Missing alt text table

accessibility missing alt text

To add alt text to a table >  select the table > right click > select Table Properties…

accessibility alt text table

Click on the Alt Text tab and enter a Title and Description

table properties

Word - check reading order - table

Check Reading Order - Table

check reading order


Steps to take

Double click on the Table Tools icon in top left hand corner of table:

table tools


Select one of the table design options:

table design options


The inspection results will change from Tips to errors:

tips to errors


To add alt text to a table >  select the table > right click > select Table Properties…


Click on the Alt Text tab and enter a Title and Description

add alt text title and description

Word - Repeated blank characters

Repeated Blank Characters

repeated blank characters

Spaces have been added rather than using carriage return or tabs – remove the spaces

accessibility spaces

Word - Objects not in line

Objects not in line

objects not in line

Steps to take

In this instance an image has been used instead of table – text on top of an image is not accessible.

required documents

Replace with an accessible table:

replace with accessible table

Word - Unclear hyperlink text

Unclear hyperlink text

unclear hyperlink text


Steps to take

Select the hyperlink > right click > Edit Hyperlink…

unclear hyperlink text

In the Text to display field enter a description of where the link will take you:

unclear hyperlink text

Word - Missing alt text

Missing alt text

missing alt text object


Steps to take

Select the object > right click > select Format Object..

missing alt text object

Click on the Layout & Properties icon:

missing alt text object

Click on Alt Text > enter a Title and Description

alt text title and description