Pia is the UK's leading independent accessible media company, transcribing print communications into accessible formats for people with visual or print impairment. We specialise in providing braille, large print, audio and e-text, but also supply other accessible formats such as; specific print formats for people with dyslexia, and through our range of partners, language translation, BSL and easy read, which is aimed at people with a learning disability.
Pia currently produces accessible formats for Government departments, utility companies, examination boards and financial organisations. The company was established in 1985 and has been providing accessible communications since 1990. We're proud to have retained our Investor in People status since 2004 and to be Cyber Essentials Plus accredited. We're a founding board member of the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) and are helping to drive the move to introduce industry standards for the transcription of accessible formats in the UK.
2 Policy Statement
It is Pia's policy to make sure that its online information and services are available to all regardless of disability.
All documents placed on the website for download should be in a non-proprietary format and must be structured and tagged appropriately to allow a meaningful reading order in screen reading software. All non-textual information must be given a text equivalent.
3 What is web accessibility
Web accessibility is defined as the ease with which a person can use a website. People with a disability are presented with potential barriers to that access. It is Pia's policy to provide as high a level of accessibility as is reasonably possible (recognising that universal accessibility is extremely difficult to achieve). In order to remove potential barriers we need to know what they are likely to be.
3.1 Target audience
The Target audience for Pia is anyone looking for materials in accessible formats. It will, by definition, include people with one or more types of disability.
Recent disability figures for the UK suggest that there are:
• over 11 million people with one form of disability or another;
• of these over 2 million have a visual impairment;
• eight million people suffer from some form of hearing loss;
• over 2 million people have a form of memory, concentration or learning difficulty;
• over seven million people have literacy problems;
• approximately one third of the population suffer from some form of colour blindness.
Different types of disability present their own accessibility problems and we need to be aware of these in order to minimise barriers.
3.2 Visual impairment
The Internet is primarily a visual medium but for some people this presents problems. All information needs to be presented in a way that can be accessed by text-to-speech software such as screen-readers or by refreshable braille displays. All non-textual information, such as images, needs textual equivalents.
Many people suffer from one of the many types of colour deficiency in their vision. Colour differentiation between text and background needs to be sufficiently high. Colour alone must not be used to convey information.
Text must be resizable to allow those with limited vision to be able to clearly read it.
Flashing or flickering imagery can induce epilepsy in some people and must be avoided.
3.3 Motor impairment
Some people have difficulty using devices that require fine motor control such as traditional mice. All tasks must be able to be carried out using a keyboard and alternative input devices as well as by a mouse. Keyboard shortcuts should be built in appropriately for key sections of the website.
Tasks must not be time-limited.
3.4 Hearing impairment
Video and audio must be accompanied by a text transcript and/or real time captioning.
3.5 Cognitive or learning disability
Information must be presented simply and in appropriate language.
Care must be given to colour schemes that may help alleviate problems associated with dyslexia. Provision of text-to-speech across the site can also help those who have difficulties reading written text.
People at the older end of the age-range can experience problems similar to those experienced by people with mild forms of previously mentioned disabilities. These include (but are not limited to):
Confusion when inconsistency in site structure and presentation is encountered
Confusion when new things are encountered
Problems with fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.
Rural areas can suffer from low connection speeds to the Internet. As websites become more feature-rich, for example, using increased client-side scripting and embedded videos, this can make accessing sites a painfully slow experience. Until such time as everyone has a connection that can handle these features it is necessary to allow people to load text-only pages and for multimedia resources to not start automatically. Page sizes should be kept as small as possible to minimise download times.