Accessible communication policy

Introduction

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has a responsibility to make sure that our communications with the public are carried out in a way that they can use and understand. This is a legal duty, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

The Office for Disability Issues in 2011/2 estimated that there are 11.6 million disabled people in Great Britain, of whom 5.7 million are adults of working age.

Digital disability refers to a range of issues, such as vision impairment, hearing impairment, dexterity issues and learning difficulties.

There are also numerous groups of people who do not have a formal disability, who also benefit from inclusive design. For example, the UK has an aging population; with almost 18 million people over 55 years of age, many of whom have digital accessibility needs.

When all physical and mental factors that can impact on how a person interacts with a website are taken into account – arthritis, Repetitive Strain Injury, English not being a person’s first language, even temporary conditions such as a sprained wrist, or situational disabilities such as trying to read a mobile phone on a sunny day with glare on the screen – then inclusive design can make the visitor experience better for almost half of the UK population.

All Londoners should be able to read, watch, understand or use our digital content, regardless of any accessibility needs. It is also an important element of the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to create a fairer, more equal, integrated city where everyone feels welcome.

In addition, The GLA group has signed up to the 5-point plan in the BSL (British Sign Language) Charter for inclusive communications.

Documents

Documents written after 23 September 2018 must be made accessible by 23 September 2020, by meeting the relevant Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards for documents.

Older documents should be provided to users in an accessible format on request (see below).

Includes MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF or any other form of written document.

Exemptions

  • Documents published before 23 September 2018 do not need to be made accessible, “unless such content is needed for active administrative processes relating to the tasks performed by the public sector body concerned”.
  • Online maps and mapping services, as long as essential information is provided in an accessible digital manner.
  • Third-party content that is neither funded nor developed by, nor under the control of, the GLA/MOL.
  • Content of websites and mobile applications qualifying as archives, meaning that they only contain content that is neither needed for active administrative processes nor updated or edited after 23 September 2019.

Requests for documents in alternative formats and other languages

On website pages where documents can be downloaded, an email link must be provided to allow users to request documents in different formats.

All documents should also have information on how to request the document in an accessible format or another language.

A different format may be braille, easy read or any other format that a person may reasonably request.

All requests must be responded to within five working days.

If a document is produced in an alternative format or translation, it should be published alongside the original on the website, so that it is available to other people.

We are working hard at improving our documents and we are developing new document templates to improve accessibility. We will be running training courses for authors on creating and testing the accessibility of documents in Spring 2020.

A policy for accessible documents is currently being written to help authors, and should be published in Spring 2020.

Accessible web content

Web content must meet the relevant WCAG 2.1 standards for copy, images and multimedia content.

All new web content added to the website should meet WCAG 2.1 standards by September 2020 at the latest.

We will be running training courses on creating accessible web content for authors in Spring 2020. A policy for accessible web content is currently being written to help authors, and should be published in Spring 2020.

GLA related websites

Public facing websites that are funded by 50% or more or governed by 50% or more GLA/Mayoral staff, are subject to the same accessibility standards as the main website, and must meet WCAG 2.1 standards by September 2020, and publish a statement saying that they have been met.

A policy for commissioning new accessible websites is currently being written, and should be published in Spring 2020.

Apps

Apps are subject to the same accessibility standards as html websites, and must meet WCAG 2.1 standards by September 2021, and publish a statement saying that they have been met.

Multimedia

Web content must meet the relevant WCAG 2.1 standards for multimedia content.

A policy document for accessible multimedia content is being written, and should be published in Spring 2020.

Social media

When using third-party websites, The GLA is not fully in control of the accessibility that can be provided. Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken to make content as accessible as possible. For instance, we will provide text alternatives for images, captions for video, use CamelCase for hashtags, and so on.

Enquiries and emails

Emails are in effect short documents, and should meet the relevant Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards for documents.

When arranging a face-to-face meeting, staff should always ask the person in advance if they need any reasonable adjustments. They may, for example, need a British Sign Language interpreter to attend.

If speaking to someone on the phone and they have identified from the start an impairment or disability, the person should be asked what adjustments they require. If they are deaf, for example, they may prefer to use a text relay service.

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