Guide for local councils – how to write accessible web pages

From 23 September 2020 information published on town, community and parish council websites must comply with WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility regulations. This will cover your website content including web pages, pdf files, images and the website itself. We have published a series of guides on how to make sure that your website content is compliant.

Making web pages accessible

  • Write using simple language and short sentences
  • Keep pages simple
  • Use ‘all capitals’ text sparingly
  • Avoid using underlined text unless it is for links

Structuring your web pages for accessibility

  • Avoid using tables to layout your page
  • Structure your pages using headings, bullets and numbered lists. Make sure that your headings are correctly nested, where heading 3 is always a sub-heading of heading 2 and heading 4 is a sub heading of heading 3 etc. The main page heading will be heading 1, so start your heading structure with heading 2
  • Make sure that your headings are correctly defined as heading 2, heading 3 and so on, rather than using text that is larger and bold. In WordPress, you can set the headings using the drop-down box at the top left of the page you are editing. It will usually be set to ‘paragraph’ unless you change it to a heading.

Making images accessible

You must ensure that any images you add to the website are accessible to visually impaired users who need to use screen readers and users with images turned off by adding an ‘Alternative text’ tag (‘alt tag’) to the image that describes what the picture shows. The alt tag will be what is shown to these visitors. How you add the alt tag will depend on what you use to make your web pages.

To add alt text in WordPress, navigate to the image in your media library and click on it to bring up the ‘Attachment Details’ screen. On the right of the screen you will see a box to add ‘Alternative text’ in the grey sidebar on the right of the screen.

Making website links (hyperlinks) accessible

Again, for users with impaired vision who are browsing your site using a screen reader it is important to make website hyperlinks descriptive, rather than using ‘click here’ as your text link. See the links in the following paragraph as a good way to show descriptive links.

Making PDF and Word files accessible

Also, you must make sure that all PDFs or other documents you put on your website are accessible. See Guide to writing documents that are accessible, Making pdf files accessible and How to save Word documents in accessible pdf-a format.