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Accessibility

Every effort has been made to make this website accessible and easy to use for everyone, no matter what browser you choose to use, and whether or not you have any disabilities.

Accessibility standards

The site’s layout takes into account users who are blind or visually impaired. It is fully compatible with popular screen reading software. If you have difficulties using a mouse, the site can be navigated using only a keyboard.

In technical language, all pages on this site should be valid to Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML 5) 1.0 and use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

This website conforms to the UK government guidelines for websites.

It also follows the Worldwide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and strives to meet level triple-A checkpoints.

Maintaining an accessible site is an ongoing process and we are continually working to offer a user friendly experience. However, if you have any problems using this website please contact us using the feedback facility.

Please note, some sections of this website are controlled by third parties and so it has not been possible for the same standards of accessibility to be applied to them.


Recommended software for viewing documents

Most documents on this website will open automatically in your web browser, but if you have trouble viewing a document you may have to install software on your computer or an app on your phone or tablet.

The software you need depends on the format of the document, which is shown below the document link (for instance “PDF format”).

Document type Software required Links to download reader software
PDF document
(*.pdf)
Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader or an alternative.
Microsoft Office documents:

  • Word document
    (*.doc, *.docx)
  • Excel spreadsheet
    (*.xls, *.xlsx)
  • PowerPoint presentation
    (*.pps, *.ppt, *.pptx)
Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office apps (for mobiles), OpenOffice or an alternative.
ODF document
(*.odt, *.ods, *.odp)
OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Microsoft Office or an alternative.

 

Help with PDF files

PDF stands for Portable Document Format and is a common internet file format. It’s used for electronic distribution because it keeps the look and feel of the original document, including the fonts, colours, images, and layout.

It also can be used across many different types of computers and browsers and is commonly used for government publications, leaflets and forms.

Opening PDF files

Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari have built-in PDF readers.  When you access a link to a PDF using one of these web browsers, the PDF will open automatically in the web browser.

Standalone PDF programs or apps are also available to download for your device.  These may offer more advanced features compared with browser-based PDF readers.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the most popular PDF readers and is available free of charge from the Adobe Acrobat site or from the app store on your device.

PDF files and browsers

You can configure your web browser to open PDF files either within the browser window or in a separate Adobe Acrobat window. There are detailed instructions on the Acrobat website on how to do so for different browsers.

You may have issues viewing PDF files on your browser. Common symptoms include a blank page in the web browser or a red X icon. There are detailed instructions on the Acrobat website on how to solve some of the most common PDF-display issues.

Solutions to common issues viewing PDFs from Adobe website(external link opens in a new window / tab).

PDF files and accessibility

PDF file standards have improved over the years. They are more accessible due to technologies like screen readers, navigation through the keyboard and enhanced screen viewing.

The Adobe site provides information on how best to use these features. You may come across earlier versions of PDF files which are not so accessible.

Find out more about Adobe Reader accessibility from the Adobe.com website(external link opens in a new window / tab).

What you can do with a PDF

When you open a PDF file a toolbar will normally appear, featuring a number of tools to help you view, search and print the document. Running your mouse over the icons, without clicking, will tell you what each of them does. Options normally include the ability to zoom in and out and a search tool that allows you to search the document for a word or phrase.

Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is by far the most popular free PDF viewer but there are others available for download, for example Foxit Reader, that will allow you to view and print PDF documents on a variety of platforms and devices.