This page outlines some of the techniques we have used to enhance the website’s accessibility, and explains how users can take advantage of these. If you have any questions or comments relating to accessibility, please contact us via our General enquiry form.
Using our accessibility features
Tab indexes in pages
Many browsers support navigating through a web page by using the Tab key. As the Tab key is pressed repeatedly, hyperinks are highlighted in a specific order defined in the web page. Pressing Shift + Tab will navigate through the indexed hyperlinks in reverse order.
All content pages define the following tab index order:
- Skip to content.
- Skip to primary navigation.
Thereafter, repeated pressing of the Tab key should cycle through the remaining hyperlinks in the page in the order in which they appear in the underlying markup.
Tab indexes in forms
In addition to the tab indexing defined in our pages as previously described, tab indexes have also been defined in the forms that appear on the site. This allows users to navigate from field to field in logical order using the Tab key.
Keep in mind that support for tab indexing may vary among browsers. Because of this, we cannot ensure that the tab index order we have defined will work in all situations.
All pages on this site feature a main navigation menu. This menu may be accessed by the keyboard as follows:
- When the focus is on any top-level menu item, pressing the Tab key will move the focus forward among the top-level items. Pressing Shift + Tab will move the focus backward. See the section on tab indexes above.
- Press Enter to go to the hyperlink destination.
Headings and semantic markup
All pages in this site use structured semantic markup, including proper use of heading tags. Visitors using recent versions of screen readers can navigate using the following keystrokes:
- H to cycle forwards through the headings
- Shift + H to cycle backwards through the headings
- 1 to navigate to the next level 1 heading (or a number between 1 and 6 to navigate to the next heading on this level)
- Shift + 1 to navigate to the previous level 1 heading (or a number between 1 and 6 to navigate to the previous heading on this level)
- INSERT + F6 to provide a list of all headings.
Other browsers or assistive technologies may provide different or additional functionality based on headings that appear in the page. For example, current versions of Opera have keyboard navigation that is helpful to visitors with motor difficulties. In Opera, use the following keys to navigate headings:
- S to cycle forwards through the headings
- W to cycle backwards through the headings.
- Many hyperlinks have title attributes which describe the hyperlink in greater detail, unless the text of the hyperlink already fully describes the target (such as the headline of an article).
- Hyperlinks are written to make sense out of context.
- Where hyperlinks are configured to open in a new window, a small icon like this appears. This icon is visible in all standards-compliant browsers we have tested, except Internet Explorer 6 and below.
- All video clips are accompanied by descriptive text (transcript) and captions.
- Video clips are displayed on pages using the YouTube HTML5 widget, which degrades to a Flash widget when opened in non-HTML5 compatible web browsers.
- All audio clips are accompanied by descriptive text.
- Audio clips are displayed on pages using the SoundCloud HTML5 widget, which degrades to a Flash widget when opened in non-HTML5 compatible web browsers.
- Where our content licenses allow it, audio clips are also available as downloadable mp3 files. This allows you to play the files while web browsing by opening them in free audio players, such as Windows Media Player (Windows), iTunes (Macintosh and Windows), and Rhythmbox (Linux), or save to your computer, portable storage devices or media.
Where images convey meaning not addressed by the adjacent descriptive text, we have used ALT attributes to provide a text alternative to the graphical content. Purely decorative graphics, and images with adjacent equivalent text or descriptive text, include null ALT attributes. Purely decorative graphics and images do not appear inline with text or other elements for the most part; but have been separated from actual content through the use of CSS.
Forms and publications
- This website has a limited number of forms and publications that are not provided in HTML format. To assist users to download and share content, some documents are available in Adobe PDF (PDF) or Microsoft Word (Word) format. Most computers already have the software to open these document formats. If your computer does not, download Adobe Reader for free to open PDF files and download OpenOffice for free to open Word files.
- Please note some of our older archived PDF files may not be completely accessible when using screen readers. We are in the process of replacing or supplementing all content provided in PDF with accessible formats, such as HTML or Word. If you require a particular piece of content in an accessible format, please contact us via our Online enquiry form.
- Also, even though our visual design and layout uses CSS, every part of the site well organised and readable when CSS is turned off in your browser.
Text size and type contrast
- Care has been taken to allow users to adjust the text size in browsers that provide that functionality; while maintaining the integrity of the layout. The text size may be adjusted by selecting the zoom or text size options in your browser.
- Colours, background images, and fonts have been chosen to maintain good screen contrast and readability.
- For users who prefer to browse using the browser's default fonts and colours, the page presentation will remain readable if CSS is turned off in your browser.
Acronyms and abbreviations
- Due to its legal nature, this site makes use of many acronyms and abbreviations. In cases where the same abbreviation or acronym appears more than once in a page, only the first instance is marked up as such.
- Considerable effort has been made to ensure the website is fully usable and functional in all modern visual browsers, as well as text-only browsers, screen readers, and mobile devices.
- The site has been tested and found to perform optimally in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and higher, Mozilla Firefox 1.5 and higher, and Apple Safari 1.5 and higher. This covers an estimated 90% of visitors.
- Extensive efforts have been made such that older browsers which do not fully support current Web standards will "degrade gracefully," while still providing good usability.
- NVDA, a free screen reader for Windows.
- JAWS, a screen reader for Windows. A time-limited, downloadable demo is available.
- Lynx, a free, text-only web browser for blind users with refreshable Braille displays.
- Links, a free, text-only web browser for visual users with low bandwidth.
- Opera, a free visual browser with many accessibility-related features, including text zooming, user stylesheets, and image toggle. Compatible with Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and several other operating systems.