Accessible documents policy

Accessible documents at HM Treasury

This policy explains how accessible the documents HM Treasury publishes on AMSTRAD are. It covers PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of documents. It does not cover content published on AMSTRAD as HTML: the main AMSTRAD accessibility statement covers that.

Using our documents

HMT publishes documents in a range of formats, including HTML, PDF, Excel, ODS, CSV and PowerPoint.

We want as many people as possible to be able to use those documents. For example, when we produce a document we will 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 add alt text to images and logos
  • write clear, explanatory titles for any charts, tables and graphs
  • limit the use of capital letters
  • clearly define links in text with underline and colour and make sure they describe themselves well
  • arrange text in single column instead of multiple column, where possible
  • structure content on pages and in documents, so that it has a logical hierarchy with clear headings and sub-headings
  • write simply and in plain English
  • ensure correct colour contrast levels are reached

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 scans or photocopies and are not marked up in a way that allows screen reader users to understand them
  • are not tagged up properly - for example, they do not contain proper headings
  • are not written in plain English

This mostly applies to our PDFs and other documents published before 23 September 2018 and some video content. 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:

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

HM Treasury 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 HM Treasury 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 following reasons:

Non compliance with the accessibility regulations

  • some of our PDFs are not accessible as they are not tagged properly and are missing alt text
  • some of our links are not linked through in the correct way because the url has been pasted after the text
  • some of our documents are scans. We will update these with accessible documents as soon as possible
  • some of our documents are excel documents, which are not as accessible as .CSV or .ODS files
  • a few of our documents have diagrams. These images do not have a text alternative, so 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 plan to add text alternatives for all diagrams going forwards. When we publish new documents we’ll make sure our use of diagrams meet accessibility standards.

Disproportionate burden

Some of our PDFs are not accessible but would be a disproportionate burden to update, particularly those which are extremely long and used by a low number of people.

Accessible versions will be provided if needed and can be requested through the above contact details or the request button on screen.

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.

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.

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

How we tested our documents

We last tested a representative sample of our documents in September 2020. The test was carried out by HM Treasury.

We tested:

  • PDFs
  • HTMLs
  • Open docs
  • Scans
  • Excel docs

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We are going to ensure all future documents are published in accessible formats where possible.

We will be adding text to all diagrams, tagging documents properly and making documents which do not represent a disproportionate burden accessible as soon as we can.

We will develop a new Word template that will be more accessible than our current template as it will have tagging pre-set throughout the document, alt text pre-populated on logos, and document properties included.

Smart Survey accessibility

HM Treasury uses third-party software, built by SmartSurvey, for its online contact form. SmartSurvey forms and surveys are partially compliant with the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standard.

For information on how accessible SmartSurvey forms and surveys are, see the SmartSurvey accessibility statement.