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Accessibility & Compatibility

What is web accessibility?

Put simply web accessibility refers to the practice of creating websites that are usable by people of all abilities and importantly those with disabilities.

Our accessibility policy

We are fully committed as an online business to making all of our websites fully accessible to as wide an audience as practically possible. We support many of the principles put together by The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) produced by the World Wide Web Consortium, and will continue to design new content and improve older content to comply with many of those recommended guidelines.

With that said, complying to new standards comes at a price and with people using a multitude of very old to very new internet web browsers, mobile browsers and screen readers it's becoming increasingly difficult and resource intensive to create backward compatible websites that view perfect in every older web browser, particularly those browsers around before the year 2002.

Older web browsers

Although many of our website pages still currently view well in older web browsers we can confidently predict that over the next few years the current good accessibility for users with very old browsers will disappear. Given the design limitations and resources required in creating backward compatible content, as from 2010 we will no longer check content for full accessibility in Microsoft® Internet Explorer 5.5 or below along with Netscape browsers. Although users of Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.0 are declining and given that the browser may be phased out over the next few years we shall continue to check content for full accessibility and compatibility until the end of 2012.

Improve your browsing experience

We regularly check all our websites for accessibility in the recent versions of the following popular web browsers: Microsoft® Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera, Apple Safari and Google Chrome. To make the most of new website features and to improve your security online we recommend that you always update to the latest version of your chosen web browser to get the best of what the internet has to offer.

Ongoing work to improve accessibility

Improvements to accessibility and the overall design to all of our websites is a continuous ongoing working process. Since 2008 we have made many subtle but important accessibility improvements to many key areas and the design layout of all our websites, these mainly include: Tables, we have moved away from using html tables for website templates and have minimised their usage where possible and are now mainly used for laying out tabular information. Images used for visual presentation have alternative text (so if you've turned off images or you can't see the image you can still understand what it contains or where it links to). JavaScript's are used in moderation and users accessibility is not restricted when scripting is unavailable or has been disabled by the user. Cascading Style Sheets are more widely used for layout and visual presentation which conform to the W3C specifications and will allow content to be available to a wider selection of mobile devices and readers.

HTML emails and newsletters

All our emails and newsletters are designed with the same principals as set out above, to be accessible and readable by as wide an audience as practically possible on as many email client programmes or email readers. HTML emails (not plain text) layouts are tables based and have not moved forward much over the past years (in terms of standards) unlike standards based web pages. Problems in viewing visually appealing HTML emails usually arise through the limitations of the various email software and the "auto turn off" of images.

Email client or reader compatibility

All our HTML email and newsletters are regularly checked for compatibility using the online platform "Email on Acid" and though manual design compatibility checking using the following guide that can be downloaded and viewed by clicking either of the following links. Excel version or PDF version

Summary

If you have any comments or experience any difficulty or problem viewing either the website, content or our email newsletters please contact us with details of the software and version being used, your operating system (98, XP, VISTA, 7, 8 etc), your screen resolution settings and a good description of the problem and the address of the webpage causing the problem.