We are committed to making our website as accessible as possible for all users. We continue to work to ensure that we comply with the latest accessibility guidelines. However, we have made some exceptions to the guidelines.
To make the most of our website we recommend that you use the latest (or one below) version of your browser. Our site works on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
We aim to use plain language and avoid jargon at all times, so that the content on our site is easy to understand. To help us do this, we follow Plain English guidelines. However, on occasion, we may publish content, such as planning documents, which may contain technical language.
Most tablets and smartphones have accessibility functions, which are normally found under 'settings'. These functions allow you to change things such as font size, font style, contrast and screen brightness, as well as offering ‘text to speech’ options. Features will vary depending upon the make and model of your device.
We have a large number of PDF documents published on our site, many of which do not meet accessibility guidelines. However, we are committed to preparing all future documents so that they can be read by assistive technologies.
Changing text size
Many people find the text on the screen difficult to read. For example, if you are working at a higher screen resolution or using a laptop with a smaller screen you may find the text too small to read easily. Also, if you have a vision impairment you may also want to increase the size of the text to make it easier to read.
If you are using Internet Explorer you can change the size of the text in your browser by selecting the View menu, then selecting Text Size and the size you require.
If you are using Firefox you can change the size of the text in your browser by selecting the View menu, then selecting Increase or Decrease to change the text size. Alternatively you can press Ctrl and + to increase the text size, Ctrl and - to decrease the text size. Ctrl and 0 returns you to the default size.
In the top right of the screen, click More
(which looks like three dots on top of each other). Next click Zoom
, and choose the zoom options that you want. To make everything larger, click +
, to make everything smaller click -
. To use full-screen mode, click Full Screen
(which looks like a square).
To change text size in Safari click on the View menu with the mouse. Then click on Make Text Bigger or Make Text Smaller to change the font size.
You can also use the keyboard shortcuts: Increase or decrease the text size with Apple and + and Apple and -.
Some people find certain text and background colour combinations difficult to read, while others prefer to always have a specific colour, such as white text on a black background. In either case, it is easy to set your own colours.
Select the Tools menu with the mouse or by pressing Alt and T. Then select Internet Options with the mouse or by pressing O, and select the Accessibility button with the mouse or by pressing Alt and E.
When Accessibility is displayed check the Ignore Colours Specified on Web Page box with the mouse or by pressing Alt and C. Save your changes by clicking the OK button with the mouse or by pressing Enter, which will take you back to the Internet Options window.
The website will now be using the same colour scheme as on your computer.
If you still need to change the text or background colours on the web page, take the following steps:
- With the Internet Options box still open click on the Colors button or press Alt and O.
- The default setting is to have the Use Windows Colors option selected. To use your own colours, click
the box to remove the tick with the mouse or press Alt and W.
- Select either the Text button with the mouse (the Use Windows Colors option must not be selected for this to work) or by pressing Alt and T, or the Background button with the mouse, or by pressing Alt and B.
- Select the colour of your choice with the mouse or by using the arrow keys.
- Select the OK button twice with the mouse or by pressing Enter twice.
- Now press OK or press Enter to return to Internet Explorer.
If you are using Firefox you can change text and background colours in the following way. Click the Tools menu or press Alt and T, then click Options or press O to display the Options window. Click the Fonts and Colors button or press F to display the Fonts and Colors window. To set Firefox to use your Windows colour scheme, click on the Use System Colors checkbox, or Tab to the checkbox and press the Spacebar to select it.
Alternatively, to set text and background colours just for Firefox:
- Make sure the Use System Colors checkbox is unchecked by clicking on it or Tab to the checkbox and press the Spacebar to deselect it.
- For your text colour, click the colour swatch next to the Text heading and click on the colour you want to use, or press Alt and T to jump to the text colour palette and use the cursor keys to browse the list of colours and then press Enter to choose the highlighted colour.
- For your background colour, click the colour swatch next to the Background heading and click on the colour you want to use. Alternatively, press Alt and B to jump to the background colour palette and use the cursor keys to browse the list of colours and then press Enter to choose the highlighted colour.
- Next click on the Always Use My Colors checkbox, or press Tab until the checkbox is highlighted and then press the Spacebar.
- Click OK or press Enter to return to the options dialog box.
- Click the OK button, or press Tab until the OK button is selected and press Enter, to return to Firefox.
- Click on the Reload Current Page button on the navigation toolbar or press Ctrl and R to reload the page with your colour settings.
Help with reading text
A considerable section of the population has difficulty reading printed or on-screen text. Browsealoud is a program that works with your browser to 'read' out the content of the page. This means if you download and install Browsealoud you can hear the words rather than having to read them.
Browsealoud software is free to download and use.
You may find this helpful if:
- You have problems reading
- English is not your first language
- You have dyslexia
- Your sight is mildly impaired
People who have visual impairments may be interested in the following assistive technology:
- Screen enlargers (or screen magnifiers) work like a magnifying glass. They enlarge a portion of the screen as the user moves the focus - increasing legibility for some users. Some screen enlargers allow a user to zoom in and out on a particular area of the screen.
- Screen readers are software programs that present graphics and text as speech. A screen reader is used to verbalise, or 'speak' everything on the screen, including names and descriptions of control buttons, menus, text and punctuation.
- Speech recognition systems, also called voice recognition programs, allow people to give commands and enter data using their voices rather than a mouse or keyboard.
- Speech synthesisers (often referred to as text-to-speech (TTS) systems) receive information going to the screen in the form of letters, numbers and punctuation marks, and then 'speak' it out loud. Using speech synthesisers allows blind users to review their input as they type.
- Refreshable braille displays provide tactile output of information represented on the computer screen. The user reads the Braille letters with his or her fingers, and then, after a line is read, refreshes the display to read the next line.
- Braille embossers transfer computer-generated text into embossed Braille output. Braille translation programs convert text scanned in or generated.
- Talking word processors are software programs that use speech synthesisers to provide auditory feedback of what is typed.
- Large-print word processors allow the user to view everything in large text without added screen enlargement.
- To find out more about these technologies and further information, please visit the Royal National Institute for the Blind website.