Accessibility Audit, West Mercia PCC

Accessibility Regulations

In January 2023, we completed an accessibility audit for the West Mercia PCC website using guided and automated accessibility testing tools. As West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (West Mercia PCC) are a public sector organisation, they needed to meet the Accessibility Regulations 2018 or risk heavy fines. The regulations state that all public sector bodies must make their website ‘perceivable, operable understandable and robust’ for all its Users. Public sector websites also need to meet the international WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard as a minimum. Failing to meet the regulations would breach the Equality Act 2010, as failing to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for people with disabilities is unlawful discrimination.

We began the accessibility audit by going through all pages on the website and scanning them with Wave and Axe DevTools, which are a cost effective solution for finding accessibility errors. Colour contrast analysis and screen reader software was also used to ensure the website was accessible to Users with visual impairments or learning difficulties. Our reports outlined there were at least 1523 pages on the website containing accessibility errors and bugs that needed fixing. Each bug was catalogued on Azure DevOps and rated in severity, with the most prominent issues fixed first. In total we fixed over 500 accessibility issues, many of which were duplicated across hundreds of news articles.

Agile Delivery

Our Azure DevOps Agile delivery offered West Mercia staff full transparency of the audit through to completion. We also used it to collaborate with their content team to fix simple accessibility issues on news articles, such as broken links or outdated PDFs. This ensured we met the deadline within timescale and budget, despite having less than a month to audit and implement fixes to the entire website. After meeting WCAG 2.1 AA standards, we exceeded expectations by reaching WCAG 2.1 AAA standards in several areas. This included improvements to colour contrast for featured images and visual focus indicators across the website.

Ongoing Support

When the audit was completed, our team tested the website rigorously for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance to guarantee all fixes were present on mobile, desktop and tablet. When testing was finished, our QA Auditor developed and published a new accessibility statement to outline the level of WCAG compliance, along with any known exceptions. As part of our ongoing commitment to the project, we provide the West Mercia PCC team with ad hoc support and advice to ensure they maintain their current level of accessibility when new content is produced. West Mercia PCC have also requested we provide them with accessibility training and resources to help their content team understand the current and upcoming accessibility regulations.