This site has a range of access features, designed to assist you in your use of the site.
If you are a screen reader user, you should be able to navigate easily around the pages by using the 'list headings' and 'list links' features of your software (Insert-F6 and Insert-F7 in JAWS). We have also provided a 'skip to content' link at the beginning of each page. Selecting this link will move you past the menu buttons and other navigation elements to the main content of the page -- handy for anyone using a keyboard, not just screen-reader users. Sighted users also benefit from clear marking of the active link -- when using the TAB key, a coloured box appears behind the link you are on.
Changing Text and Colours
To quickly change your default text size, you can usually use your web browser's View menu to do so. In Internet Explorer, for example, go to the View menu and select Text Size, and choose your preferred size from the list. Our sites are designed to allow elegant resizing of the text.
You can set your browser to apply certain rules about font colour, background colour, font size and font face automatically to all web pages you visit. In Internet Explorer, for example, select the Tools menu - Internet options. Then select the Colours and Fonts of your choice. Once you have done this, select the Accessibility button and check the boxes to ignore font sizes, styles and colours specified on web pages (it will use your defaults instead).
Handy Shortcut keys
Windows provides a range of access features that can be turned on from the keyboard.
- RIGHT SHIFT for eight seconds: FilterKeys - ignores brief or repeated keystrokes and slows down the repeat rate.
- LEFT ALT+LEFT SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN: High Contrast.
- LEFT ALT+LEFT SHIFT+NUM LOCK: MouseKeys - use the numeric keypad to control the mouse; use 5 to 'click'.
- SHIFT five times: StickyKeys - allows you to use the SHIFT, CTRL, ALT and WINDOWS-LOGO keys by pressing them one at a time.
- NUM LOCK for five seconds: ToggleKeys - makes your computer bleep at you when you press CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK or SCROLL LOCK.
Internet Explorer is the most commonly used browser, so we have provided some of the shortcut keys here
- Alt+Left-arrow: Back
- Alt+Right-arrow: Forward
- Alt+A: Favourites menu
- Alt+D: Address bar
- Alt+E: Edit Menu
- Alt+F: File Menu
- Ctrl+F: Find on Page
- Alt+H: Help Menu
For more shortcuts, see the excellent Getting more from your web browser at Communis.
The best access-features are additive, that is that they do not take away from any other users' experience of the web site. We use titles and alternate text for images and links that provide more information for users that want it. This might be as tool tips, or through screen reader options. This makes the site easier to use for users who do not or cannot download images, PDA users, and for users of screen-readers.
The site is structured so that it's easy to get around. Headings are marked as such, links make sense when read out of context. The main content of the page is placed early in the code (the contact information, for example, actually appears at the end of each page, and is then positioned to the top-right hand corner). This makes the site more straightforward for users who prefer the keyboard to the mouse, and to users with screen readers. It also makes the site rank significantly higher with search engines such as GoogleTM.
What you won't find
Accessibility is not only about assisting users, it's also about avoiding obstacles. Here are some of the things that you won't find on our sites:
- Tables used for layout. We only use tables for what they are supposed to be for, tabulating data. This makes life a lot easier for users of screen-reading software.
- Pop-up windows.These can be annoying for users of screen-readers, an everyone else too. Many users have software to block pop-ups, meaning that even where they are used, you cannot put anything important in them. We don't use them.
This site conforms to a set of technical guidelines set down by the Worldwide Web Consortium known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). We have made every effort to comply with all requirements to level 'AA', and most requirements to level 'AAA', the highest level. If you should experience any difficulty using the site, however, or spot anything we may have missed, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will do our very best to put it right.