WCS and Web Accessibility

In recent years Accessibility Guidelines have changed, and there are now guidelines for Local Councils and other similar authorities to follow. 

It is also important to have accessibility and inclusion as a priority. The Internet is a fantastic tool, and should be available to anyone, no matter their ability.
persons hands on a desk with a keyboard and a piece of accessibility equipment, a Braille reader.

What is Website Accessibility? 

People have a diverse range of hearing, sight, movement, and cognitive ability, so the goal of web accessibility is to make sure everyone can easily find what they need online. When web accessibility is not done well, this causes feelings of exclusion.

Websites must be created in a way that allows applications like Text-To-Speech Screen Readers to successfully work, or for keyboard users to navigate the site without the use of a mouse, amongst other features. 

How is Website Accessibility Measured?

The level of accessibility is measured against the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG.) 

WCAG 2.1 has three different levels;

  • A-    The lowest, minimum level of accessibility to reach.
  • AA- Is more accessible, some barriers still exist for some groups of users, but most features should work with assistive technology. Level AA is often the required level of accessibility- this is the level of accessibility that WJPS work too when creating WCS sites. 
  • AAA- Is the most accessible level. Some level AAA criteria cannot be applied everywhere, so level AAA is generally not a requirement, more-so something to aim for.

Our Web Communication System (WCS) sites have a multitude of features that cater towards accessibility, like Alternative Text, Adjustable font sizes and contrast, are easy to navigate with a keyboard, they’re responsive between mobile and desktop views, and much more!

What are the requirements for local councils?

“All UK Public Bodies, which includes parish, town, borough and city councils, must comply with the legal requirements to meet the accessible standards of their website.”
Regardless of their size, all Councils must meet the standard of WCAG 2.1 level AA for both its website and the documents it publishes on it. 

This needs to be done whilst adhering to The Transparency Code, to read more about this please see National Association of Local Councils’ Website Accessibility and Publishing Guidelines

This includes,

  • A fully compliant website or mobile application meeting WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
  • A compliant Accessibility Statement and Accessible Document Statement.
  • All documents published by the council are to meet accessibility standards.


Website Hosting

Although there are no specific requirements relating to either Accessibility or Transparency code compliance, a public body is responsible for ensuring the website host meets a good level of security and best practices. 

According to the National Association of Local Councils, it is recommended that your web host service provider has attained the Minimum of Cyber Essentials Certification. WJPS has attained this and much more when it comes to web hosting security.

Accessibility Statements

It is also a requirement for Local Councils to publish an Accessibility Statement that conforms to the required standard and is a genuine reflection of your assessment of the website and its content- here at WJPS, this is something we also provide for your WCS site.

There are many features that WCS offers to aid in a website’s accessibility, these include, but are not limited too-Lady sat on a pink stripy hammock reading a book on a tablet.

  • Alternative Text
    Every image uploaded to a WCS site has an option to add Alt-Text. Alt-text is a simple description of the image that is read by Screen Readers for site users with visual impairments.
  • Labelled Links
    When adding a link to a page, it is important to correctly label that link, and avoid using ‘Click Here’ etc. This helps people using applications like screen readers to navigate a site quickly and easily. WCS, as many users already know, makes correctly labelling links super easy!
  • Avoid Over Formatting
    A mixture of too many different font, sizes, and colours, along with excessive use of Bold, Italics and similar features can be overwhelming and complicated. With WCS, we set fonts and themes to limit the mix of fonts and sizes that can be used to make it easy for users to create new content without the worry of mixing up fonts.


How WJPS can help you

We are currently working on offering our clients WCS consultancy, where we will not only streamline, organise and style your site, but we will bring it up to at least WCAG 2.1 Level AA, and within our support package, will check your sites accessibility every 6 months to keep it up to date. 

For more in-depth information on this topic, please see National Association of Local Councils Website Accessibility and Publishing Guidelines

Published: 20/10/2021 Published by: WJPS

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