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Accessibility

Accessibility

At the Home Office we are committed to providing relevant information and services to everyone. This means that no matter where you are located, how you use the internet and what impairments you might have, you should still be able to access the information you need.

With this in mind we have been very careful to make this website as ‘accessible’ as we can. There are a number of facilities that we have built into the site to make this possible and this page explains what they are.

Access keys

We have used the relevant Government standard access keys to help you to navigate through the main areas of this web site using keyboard shortcuts. The ones we have used are:

1 - Home page

3 - Site map

4 - Search

7 - Complaints procedure

8 - Terms and conditions

9 - Contact us

0 - Accessibility

Y- Site directory

Z - A to Z Index

I - Freedom of Information

Unfortunately you can only use access keys if on Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 and above and with Netscape 6 and above versions (including Firefox and Mozilla). With Windows based systems you will need to press the 'Alt key' and then access key number or letter. With Macintosh based systems you need to press the 'Ctrl key' and the access key number or letter.


Browsealoud

We have enabled our site to be used with Browsealoud software. This is a simple to dowload free program which will read text on subscribing web sites such as the Home Office site and BBC News.

Once you have the software installed all you have to do is scroll your mouse over the text and browsealoud will read it out loud. It will also read hyperlinks and menus so navigation becomes much more simple too. The pitch, choice of voice and speed can also be altered to your liking.

Download Browsealoud


Design


We have tried to use combinations of colours that provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background across the sites. If you spot any that give you problems we would like to know.

Icons – on a number of our sites we have used a set of icons to represent the main sections of the site. This means that often when you see a link to somewhere else on the site, one of these icons will appear beside it and will tell you which section it is in.

We have also used icons for some of the key ‘cross-linking’ areas on the site. These are:

ICON Related Documents – shows you a list of documents which we feel are relevant to the contents of that page
ICON Internet Links – displays a list of other websites that cover similar topics to the page
ICON  For practitioners – these areas give you links to other Home Office sites that give you more detailed policy information about the content of the page.


Ways around the site


The main site navigation is present on every page of the site. We’ve tried to make the categories within this easy to understand but if you are in any doubt, click on one and the page that appears should tell you whether it’s what you need. When you get into a section the main navigation opens up to reveal the section navigation. But all of the main navigation items are still there, you might just need to scroll a bit further to find them.

A keyword search facility is on every page of the site. You can put in your search term and if it’s on the site the search should find it. There is also an advanced search which is linked to from underneath the quick search. With this you can tailor your search to look for particular types of document and on particular sites.

We also have a sitemap and A-Z listing on each site. These links are found towards the top of the page.


Features of the HTML code used to make up the pages


You can be assured that every significant image on the site has an alternative text version which will be picked up by a screenreader. The only images that don’t have this ‘ALT’ text are ones that just make up aspects of the design of the page.

The code of the pages has been arranged in a way that puts the navigation links at the end, rather than the start, of the page when you are browsing it with a screenreader. This should mean that you don’t have to wade through a long list of links on every new page you visit. You go straight into the meaty content of the page. But, if you do want to get to the navigation quickly there should be a ‘skip link’ at the top of the page to allow you to do so.

We have laid out all of the elements on the page in a logical order and all links make sense when read out of context.

We’ve used heading styles on all pages to break them up into hierarchical structures.

We have tried to reduce the amount of scrolling you will have to do by making what we are saying more concise. This isn’t always possible, but if you come across a page that you think is really too long we’d like to hear from you.

All links to external sites and those  which launch new browser windows are in the process of being signposted so that you know what to expect when you click on them.


Changing text size, font colour and turning off images


We have coded our pages so that it should be possible for you to easily increase or decrease the size of the site’s text using your browser’s built in controls. You might find that some of the header graphics don’t change in size but you should always be able to access alternative versions of these graphics by hovering over them to reveal a pop-up in Internet Explorer, or by right-clicking on them with your mouse and selecting Properties in most other browsers.


Changing your settings for Internet Explorer on a PC


Font size

  • Select the 'Tools' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Internet Options' from the Tools menu.
  • Click on the 'General' tab.
  • Click on the 'Accessibility…' button.
  • To change your font size, check the box marked 'Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages'
  • Click on the 'OK' button on this tab and then on the 'OK' button on the Internet Options tab.
  • Select the 'View' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Text Size' from the menu – another menu listing possible sizes will appear. Select the option that you require. 

Font style

  • Select the 'Tools' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Internet Options' from the Tools menu.
  • Click on the 'General' tab.
  • Click on the 'Fonts…' button.
  • Change your font using the 'Web page font' drop down.
  • Click on the 'OK' button on this tab and then on the 'OK' button on the Internet Options tab.

Font and Background colour

  • Select the 'Tools' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Internet Options' from the Tools menu.
  • Click on the 'General' tab.
  • Click on the 'Colors…' button.
  • Check the box next to 'Use Windows colors', allowing you access to change the colours yourself.
  • Select your own Text, Background and link colours from those available.
  • Click on the 'OK' button on this tab and then on the 'OK' button on the Internet Options tab.

Images

  • Select the 'Tools' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Internet Options' from the Tools menu.
  • Click on the 'Advanced' tab.
  • Scroll down the page until you reach the Multimedia category.
  • Uncheck the box next to 'Show pictures'
  • Click on the 'OK' button.

 
Changing your settings for Internet Explorer for Apple Mac


Font size and style

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the menu.
  • Click on 'web content', under 'Web Browser', in the left-hand pane.
  • Deselect the button marked 'show style sheets'.
  • Select 'Language/Fonts', under 'Web Browser', in the left-hand pane.
  • Select the font size and style you require.
  • Click on 'OK' to close the popup.

 
Font, Background colour and Images

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Internet Explorer browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'web content', under 'Web Browser', in the left-hand pane.
  • Ensure that the button marked 'show style sheets' is deselected.
  • Select your own Text, Background and link colours from those available in the 'Page & Link' section.
  • If you want your links to appear underlined then check the 'Underline links' box.
  • To turn off pictures uncheck the box marked 'Show pictures' under 'Page Content'.
  • Click on 'OK' to close the popup.

 
Change your settings for Netscape, Firefox or Mozilla on a PC


These instructions are based on Netscape 7.

Font Size and Style

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Appearance' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Fonts' from the Appearance menu.
  • Change your font's size using the 'Size (pixels)' drop down on the right of the screen.
  • Change your font face using one of the dropdown menus under the 'Typeface' title. In general Sans-serif fonts tend to be easier to read than Serif fonts. If you wish to choose a Serif font you need to set the 'Proportional' dropdown to 'Sans serif' before making your choice.
  • Finally, uncheck the box entitled 'Allow documents to use other fonts'. This will force your browser to display pages in the style you have chosen.
  • NB – you can use Netscape to ensure that fonts are never displayed in a size smaller than the minimum you can see. To do so, choose a font size from the 'Minimum font size' dropdown.
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Netscape also allows you to choose your font size using the 'View' menu. To use this facility follow these steps

  • Select the 'View' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Text Zoom' from the View menu.
  • The menu that appears allows you to select a percentage text size from a list, or simply to make your text smaller or larger. Choose your required option from those displayed.


Keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease text size

  • Smaller : Ctrl and –
  • Larger : Ctrl and +

 
Font and Background Colours

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Appearance' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Colors' from the Appearance menu.
  • Choose the colours that you require from the 'Text and Background' and 'Link Colors' options by clicking on the colour boxes and choosing one of the available colours.
  • Ensure that the 'Use system colors' box is unchecked.
  • If you want your links to appear underlined then check the 'Underline links' box.
  • Click on the radio button next to 'Use my chosen colors, ignoring the colors and background image specified'. This will force all pages to be displayed using your settings.
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Images

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Privacy & Security' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Images' from the Privacy and Security menu.
  • To turn images off, click on the radio button next to 'Do not load any images'. To turn them on, click on 'Accept all images'
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Change your settings for Netscape or Mozilla on a Mac


Font Size and Style

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Appearance' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Fonts' from the Appearance menu.
  • Change your font size using the 'Size (pixels)' drop down on the right of the screen.
  • Change your font face using one of the dropdown menus under the 'Typeface' title. In general Sans-serif fonts tend to be easier to read than Serif fonts. If you wish to choose a Serif font you need to set the 'Proportional' dropdown to 'Sans serif' before making your choice.
  • Finally, uncheck the box entitled 'Allow documents to use other fonts'. This will force your browser to display pages in the style you have chosen.
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Netscape also allows you to choose your font size using the 'View' menu. To use this facility follow these steps

  • Select the 'View' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Text Size' from the View menu.
  • The menu that appears allows you to select a percentage text size from a list, or simply to make your text smaller or larger. Choose your required option from those displayed.

 
Keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease text size

  • Smaller : Ctrl and –
  • Larger : Ctrl and +

 
Font and Background Colours

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Appearance' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Colors' from the Appearance menu.
  • Choose the colours that you require from the 'Text and Background' and 'Link Colors' options by clicking on the colour boxes and choosing one of the available colours.
  • Ensure that the 'Use system colors' box is unchecked.
  • If you want your links to appear underlined then check the 'Underline links' box.
  • Click on the radio button next to 'Use my chosen colors, ignoring the colors specified'. This will force all pages to be displayed using your settings.
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Images

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Netscape browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Privacy & Security' in the 'Category' box on the left of the pop-up. Then select 'Images' from the Privacy and Security menu.
  • To turn images off, click on the radio button next to 'Do not load any images'. To turn them on, click on 'Accept all images'
  • Click OK within the pop-up and your page will change to reflect your settings.

 
Change your settings for Opera on a PC


These instructions are based on Opera 7

 
Font Size, Face, Colour, Style and Background colour

  • Select the 'File' menu within your Opera browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the File menu.
  • Click on 'Fonts and colors' in the box on the left of the pop-up.
  • Opera gives you very detailed facilities for changing the appearance of each type of text on your page. The most used styles are 'Normal' and 'Heading 1'. To change these, click on their entry in the 'My fonts and colors' scrolling box, and then click on the 'Choose' button to the right of the scrolling box. Select a font face, style, size and colour from the options available and click on 'OK'.
  • NB – you can use Opera to ensure that fonts are never displayed in a size smaller than the minimum you can see. To do so, enter a font size into the 'Minimum font size [pixels]' box.
  • To change the background colour of your page click on the 'Choose' button to the right of the 'Background color' text. Choose a colour from those available and click on 'OK'.
  • If you want to change how links appear within your page then click on the 'My link style…' button and make a selection from those available.
  • When you are happy with all of your settings, click on 'Apply'. Review your page and if it appears as required click on 'OK'

 
Page size

  • Opera offers an unusual feature that allows you to enlarge the size of your page as a whole. To use this facility, follow these steps
  • Select the 'View' menu within your Opera browser.
  • Select 'Zoom' from the File menu.
  • Select your required zoom ratio from those offered.


Images

  • Select the 'File' menu within your Opera browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the File menu.
  • Click on 'Multimedia' in the box on the left of the pop-up.
  • To turn images off, click on the radio button next to 'Show no images'. To turn images on, click on 'Show images'.


Change your settings for Opera on a Mac

 

Font Size, Face, Colour, Style and Background colour

 

  • Select the 'Edit' menu within your Opera browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the Edit menu.
  • Click on 'Fonts and colors' in the box on the left of the pop-up.
  • Opera gives you very detailed facilities for changing the appearance of each type of text on your page. The most used styles are 'Normal' and 'Heading 1'. To change these, click on their entry in the 'My fonts and colors' scrolling box, and then click on the 'Choose' button at the bottom of the scrolling box. Select a font face, style, size and colour from the options available and click on 'OK'.
  • NB – you can use Opera to ensure that fonts are never displayed in a size smaller than the minimum you can see. To do so, enter a font size into the 'Minimum font size [pixels]' box.
  • To change the background colour of your page click on the 'Background colour' box. Choose a colour from those available and click on 'OK'.
  • If you want to change how links appear within your page then click on the 'My link style…' button and make a selection from those available.
  • When you are happy with all of your settings, click on 'Apply'. Review your page and if it appears as required click on 'OK' 

 

Images

  • Select the 'File' menu within your Opera browser.
  • Select 'Preferences' from the File menu.
  • Click on 'Multimedia' in the box on the left of the pop-up.
  • To turn images off, click on the radio button next to 'Show no images'. To turn images on, click on 'Show images'.

 

PDF documents


We have tried to provide documents, reports and publications in HTML as well as PDF versions. However, the Home Office has a lot of old documents and providing HTML versions for all of them is taking a long time.

Files in this format will have the PDF symbol ** next to them. To view and print PDF files, you must have Adobe® Acrobat® Reader installed: to download this product for free please use the link below:

http://www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobat/readstep.html

If you cannot use Acrobat Reader to see these documents (for example, if you use screen reader software or an audio-enabled web browser), Adobe provide a free online tool which converts them to text.

To use this service, send the web address (URL) of the Adobe Acrobat document you want to read through the web form at http://access.adobe.com/onlinetools.html

The service will return the document to you as a web page (HTML) or as plain text. Alternatively you can choose to get it emailed to you as an attachment.


Plain English


One of the main criticisms of the current Home Office website is that the language used is ‘policy-speak’ and difficult to understand. To address this the whole website has been written in plain English to help users get what they want from the website.

Writing in plain English means conveying meaning clearly and concisely to the intended audience in the appropriate tone of voice.

Plain English is not about ‘dumbing down’ our content – it is about presenting it as clearly as possible so that we are understood by our users.

The features and techniques of plain English that we used include:

  • short sentences and paragraphs
  • everyday language
  • active not passive verbs (‘We announced a new community initiative today’ rather than ‘A community initiative was today announced’.)
  • getting to the point quickly and ordering information logically

The pitfalls we avoided were:

  • long sentences and paragraphs
  • jargon, acronyms and abbreviations
  • pompous and verbose language
  • repetition and ‘waffle’

We have rewritten all of the content on the new website in plain English and are hopeful of gaining the Crystal Mark from the Plain English Campaign.