Accessible documents policy

Barnsley Council is committed to making its website accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Our documents are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard.

This policy explains how accessible the documents that Barnsley Council publishes on are.

It covers PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations and other types of document. It doesn't cover content published on as web content (HTML). Our main website accessibility statement covers that. 

We want as many people as possible to be able to use our documents. For example, when we produce a document we try to:

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

How accessible our documents are

New documents and documents you need to download to access one of our services should be fully accessible.

However, we know that some of our documents published before 23 September 2018 aren’t fully accessible. Some of them:

  • aren’t fully tagged properly – for example, they don’t contain proper headings
  • are scanned or photocopies and aren't marked up in a way that allows screen readers to understand them
  • aren’t written in plain English
  • contain maps with no text description
  • include images with no alternative description

This mostly applies to some PDFs and other documents such as:

  • local planning documents
  • research and statistics
  • strategies
  • minutes of meetings

These types of documents are exempt from the regulations, so we don’t currently have any plans to make them accessible.

What to do if you can't use one of our documents

If you need a document in a different format you can either:

We'll consider your request and get back to you within 10 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with one of our documents

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our documents. If you find any problems not listed on this page or you think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, email

Enforcement procedure

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

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

Non compliance with accessibility regulations

The documents Barnsley Council publishes are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below (for documents published after September 2018).

We fixed issues with hundreds of PDFs on our website. We've also converted some PDFs into web content, because it's more accessible. We still have some PDFs that we've not yet been able to make accessible for everyone to use. This includes some documents that were published after September 2018. We know that we need to fix them to make our website fully accessible to everyone.

An example of this would be a local planning document of a significant size, that may include images and maps. We also have some data and strategies that we've not been able to make accessible or turn into webpages yet. The documents are mainly in these sections of our website:

We plan to either make these documents accessible or convert them into web content or forms.

Content that's not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

Some of our older PDFs and Word documents may not fully meet accessibility standards. For example, they may not be structured so they’re fully accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role value).

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. We've either fixed these documents or replaced them 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. For example, we don't plan to fix some of our strategies and data reports.

Any new PDFs or Word documents published after 23 September 2020 should meet accessibility standards.

Disproportionate burden

There are a small number of PDF documents on our website published after 23 September 2018 that we've not been able to make accessible. 

This is because they're either:

  • very long and contain maps and images with no text alternative
  • minutes of meetings that have been scanned in
  • infographics of data

These documents don't contain any information about accessing services, but they're covered by the legislation. We've considered the purpose of these documents and how often they're used. We think it was a disproportionate burden for us to have fixed them before 23 September 2020. 

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

We're planning to either convert these documents into web pages (HTML) or make them accessible.

How we tested our documents

We completed a full test of all published documents on 21 September 2020. We tested all documents on the Barnsley Council website.

We prioritised fixing documents published after 23 September 2018 and those that contain information about accessing our services. 

The testing was done using automated software to find, fix and retest any issues.

We continue to test documents weekly that have been published on our website since 23 September 2020.

What we're doing to improve accessibility

We're replacing PDF documents with accessible web content (HTML) wherever possible. We're also developing text alternatives to maps, infographics and diagrams. 

We consider whether a document can be published in HTML first. If not, we work with the author to make it accessible. 

We're not responsible for any documents that belong to other organisations, even if we've included a link to these from our website. But we do check if there is an accessible alternative to a document that's been published by someone else. If one's available we'll link to it. 

This page was last updated on 2 April 2024. We'll review it again before 30 June 2024.