Laptop and folders

Mastering Online Documents Webinar

Here is a quick summary of the recent public webinar we delivered on mastering online documents.

On the 3rd June we delivered a public webinar for Kent Connects on Mastering Online Documents. This was a 30-minute introduction to the accessibility issues with online documents and outlined the steps we all need to take to ensure our online documents meet accessibility regulations.

The challenge

Most councils have a huge number of documents published on their websites, in PDF format, Word and Excel. Some of these documents give crucial information on the services they provide. Some of the documents are very long and complex. For anyone with a visual, hearing, motor or cognitive disability or impairment these documents will be very hard or impossible to access.

Under the Government’s accessibility regulations all public sector bodies have a responsibility to ensure any documents they publish meet accessibility standards. We must make all existing online documents accessible by 23rd September 2020 and we must publish only accessible documents from now on.

Time to act

Our top advice is to publish information as web pages and not PDFs, Word or Excel documents. If this is not possible, then we must optimise our documents for visibility, hearing and mobility assistive technologies.

We need to ensure that everybody can get the maximum experience out of the content they are looking at and no-one is denied the user experience.

Here are the things we should all be doing:

  1. Decide who will be responsible for making your documentation accessible. Will this be a central team, or will it be people in your services? Whoever it is make sure they know what they need to do and how to do it.
  2. Assess how many documents you have on your site and ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does the document still need to be online?
  • Can the information be linked to on another site?
  • Can the information in the document be turned into a webpage or an online form?
  • Is the document exempt because:
          – it is third party content that you didn’t develop it or pay for it to be developed and you don’t control it
          – it was published before 23rd September 2018 and is not essential to your services
  1. Once you have a list of documents that do need to be made accessible you need to work out a way of prioritising these. You could start with those documents that are most crucial and highly used and those most likely to be accessed by people with a disability or impairment.
  1. Then the work begins to make sure these documents are user friendly, accessible, current and valid.

Help is at hand

Here at SDS we can help with all these steps.

We have created bitesize training videos that explain how to create accessible documents. This includes demonstrations of how to use heading styles correctly, improving your hyperlinks, format charts and tables and make images accessible. Many of our partners are rolling this training out to all staff that create documents.

We can also help if you are struggling with the number of documents you need to make accessible or if there are any documents you are having difficulties with.

We are here to help so please do get in touch.