Accessible documents statement

This policy explains how accessible the documents on the City of Lincoln Council website are

It covers PDFs, spreadsheets and other types of documents. It does not cover content published on our website as html. 

Our website accessibility statement covers HTML content.

Using documents on

We publish documents in different formats, including:

  • PDF
  • Excel
  • Word
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
  • JPG and JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

We want as many people as possible to be able to use those documents.

When we produce a document, we make sure to:

  • provide an HTML option wherever possible
  • tag headings and other parts of the document properly, so that screen readers can understand the page structure
  • make sure we include alt-text alongside non-decorative images, so that people who cannot see them can understand why they are included in the document
  • avoid using tables where possible, except when we’re presenting complex data
  • write in plain English

How are we doing?

New documents that we publish, and documents you need to download or fill in to access one of the services, should be fully accessible. However, we know that some of our existing documents are not accessible. 

For example, we know that some PDF's published after 23rd September 2018 are currently not accessible. 

Document accessibility issues may include:

  • Missing document structure
  • No alternate text for images 
  • Not being written in Plain English
  • Not machine readable

This mostly applies to our PDFs and other documents published before 23 September 2018, audio and video content and archived parts of our website. These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we don’t currently have any plans to make them accessible.

How to request information in a different format 

If you need to access information in one of these document types, you can contact us and ask for an alternative format.

Please tell us:

  • the web address (URL) of the content
  • your name and email address
  • the format you need (for example, audio CD, braille, BSL or large print, accessible PDF)


Reporting accessibility problems with one of our documents

If you find a problem not listed on this page, or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, please contact us.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’).

If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about the accessibility of our documents

We are committed to making our documents accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The documents we publish are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Success criterion 1.1.1: Non Text Content

Ensure PDFs are machine readable

PDFs need to be machine readable for accessibility software to be able to access them. Scanned documents or password protected ones are usually not machine readable.

Success criterion 1.3.1: Info and Relationships

Specify Headings for every PDF

Some of our documents do not identify headings, lists or data tables correctly. This means users using screen readers may not be able to follow the structure of a document, which in turn may affect their ability to access and understand the information. 

Fix untagged PDFs

Some of our PDFs are not tagged at all or are missing tags. A tagged PDF means that users can navigate through content in a logical order that is consistent with the meaning of the content. This means users using screen readers may not be able to follow the structure of a document, which in turn may affect their ability to access and understand the information. 

Ensure PDF headings follow a logical order

Some of our PDF headings do not follow a logical order. Headings in a PDF should follow the sequence Heading 1 -> Heading 2 -> Heading 3 without skipping intermediate headings. This means the document headings may not be picked up by assistive technologies. This may affect a user’s ability to access and understand the information.

Ensure the first heading in a PDF is a H1

The first heading in a PDF document should be a Heading 1. Headings are marked up using the heading elements (H, H1, H2, ... H6) in the structure tree. This is typically accomplished by using a tool for authoring PDF.

Success criterion 2.4.2: Page Titled

Define a title for all PDFs and Improve weak PDF titles

Some of our PDFs are missing titles. All PDFs must define a valid title. This must not be confused with the file name. Document titles identify the current document location without requiring users to read or interpret page content. This may affect a user’s ability to access the information.

Success Criterion 2.4.5: Multiple Ways

Ensure long PDFS use bookmarks to aid navigation

Bookmarks (also known as outline entries) should be applied to long PDFs to provide a hierarchical overview of the document to help aid navigation. A person with cognitive disabilities may prefer a hierarchical outline that provides an overview of the document rather than reading and traversing through many pages. This is also a conventional means of navigating a document that benefits all users.

Success criterion 3.1.1: Language of Page

Ensure PDFs specify a default language

Some of our PDFs do not specify a default language.  PDFs should have a default document language set to help render text accurately and help screen readers pronounce words correctly. This may affect a user’s ability to access and understand the information.


Disproportionate burden

Some of our documents are not accessible but it would be a disproportionate burden to update, particularly those which are extremely long and used by a low number of people. 

Content that’s outside of the scope of the accessibility regulations

Many of our older PDFs and Word documents do not meet accessibility standards - for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. By April 2023, we plan to either fix or replace these documents with accessible HTML pages.
The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.

Any new PDF’s or Word documents we publish should meet the accessibility standards. We rely on staff to check any first party documents for accessibility issues before the point of submission.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We are using Silktide to continually identify and fix issues as they arise.

Our website accessibility statement outlines the steps we are taking to improve the accessibility of HTML content. In addition, we are working hard to train and educate staff on the importance of producing accessible documents and content.

Document auditing

City of Lincoln Council audits all documents uploaded to our website using an internal website content request form. If a document is flagged by the website team for accessibility reasons a joint decision with Council staff will be made to:

  • reformat the content into accessible PDF's
  • create new HTML website pages or online form
  • delete the inaccessible document from our website and request an alternative version 

Staff training

We’ve adapted SCULPT for accessibility materials and developed a staff area on the City of Lincoln Council intranet to help raise overall awareness of accessibility regulations and the importance of being compliant.

We have also produced a training video and developed a staff guidance document. Together these resources provide step-by-step guidance for all council staff, helping them to create accessible documents using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker. The training video has been circulated to all City of Lincoln Council Service Managers. 

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This page was last updated on 5 October 2022

This website was last tested on 5 October 2022 

The test was carried out by City of Lincoln Council.