Case study: Accessible reports for Northern Ireland Audit Office
For several years, CDS has produced printed documents for Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO). These reports were also saved as PDF documents and uploaded to the NIAO website.
NIAO recognised that these PDFs were not accessible to assistive technology users and did not meet the UK Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations. The accessibility regulations were enacted for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018. They say you must make your website or mobile app more accessible by making it 'perceivable, operable, understandable and robust', meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA.
NIAO asked CDS to provide costs for producing more accessible tagged PDF documents for many PDF reports on their site.
- We asked the Communication team at NIAO to consider making the reports available as HTML pages rather than PDF documents. Adding the content as HTML would provide several cost and maintenance advantages for NIAO and a much more widely accessible format for all users.
- We liaised with the NIAO web team to produce several proof-of-concept test HTML documents to identify the format that would be best suited for upload into their CMS.
- Drawing from the combined experience of our Print and Accessibility teams, we identified a process to export CMS-ready HTML from the InDesign print files.
- We converted over 50 print documents to HTML in a fraction of the time it would have taken to convert the same documents into accessible tagged PDFs.
- During this conversion process, it became apparent that the structure and design of some of the older printed documents did not lend themselves to easy conversion into web pages. Where possible, we reformatted content. If this wasn’t viable, we let NIAO know why, so they could prevent similar issues in converting future printed reports for digital delivery.
- One of our Accessibility Consultants then led a workshop in Belfast with senior NIAO report writers and data visualisers. After introducing the importance of accessibility, the workshop focussed on potential accessibility and usability issues they could avoid by addressing them early in the content creation process.
NIAO now have a large number of their reports available as fully accessible HTML files on their site meeting the requirements of users relying on assistive technology.
Based on the workshop, we produced good practice guidance and checklists to ensure NIAO content creators would be much more aware of both accessibility and digital delivery when creating future reports.
All future printed reports CDS produces for NIAO are now also converted into accessible HTML.
At a glance...
- PDF reports did not meet the UK Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations.
- NIAO asked CDS to provide costs for producing more accessible tagged PDF documents on their site.
- CDS suggested that the reports be transferred to HTML pages to provide better accessibility and several cost and maintenance advantages.
- Over 50 documents were converted, with several needing restructuring to be compatible with a web page.
- A CDS-led accessibility workshop took place for senior NIAO report writers and data visualisers.
- Reports on the NIAO site now meet accessibility requirements.
- The workshop produced good practice guidance and checklists to ensure future content remains accessible.
- All future printed documents will automatically be converted to HTML.