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This statement provides information on the accessibility of the Scottish Parliament website and the MSP Travel and Expenses website. It also explains how we've tested the website and areas that we still need to work on.

This website is run by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. We are committed to making our online content as accessible as possible in line with the Scottish Parliament’s founding principles of openness and transparency.

Accessibility is a key part of our programme to continually improve our websites. We prioritise work based on feedback from users and the results of annual accessibility audits run by an external organisation.

We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website. For example, that means you should be able to:

  • view content with easy-to-read fonts and good colour contrast
  • navigate most of the website using just a keyboard
  • navigate most of the website using speech recognition software
  • listen to most of the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)

We also recognise the need to use language that is easy to understand. Our content strategy commits us to publishing information that is user-centred, findable, consistent and accessible. We aim to make the website text as simple as possible to understand.  We provide explainer content to help people understand procedural or technical terms where we’ve had to use them.

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

How accessible this website is 

We know some parts of this website are not fully accessible:

  • we don’t have captions on all live video content from the Chamber and committee meetings. We are currently piloting live-captioning for Chamber business on Parliament TV and welcome feedback on this service. Our on-demand business video content now includes closed captions
  • our Bill documents and amendment documents, including secondar legislation and accompanything documents, are not accessible due to the limitations of the software used to create them
  • links do not always give a pre-warning when they open in a new browser window
  • some of our PDF documents are not fully accessible. We are actively working with internal teams to address this through training and the use of accessible templates. However some of our PDFs are provided by external organisations and remain an issue. These include written submissions to committees or items of correspondence, and cross-party group content

Feedback and contact information

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, please contact [email protected]

If you need content in a different format, please contact [email protected] and tell us:

  • the web address (URL) of the content
  • your name and email address
  • the format you need, for example, audio CD, braille, British Sign Language (BSL) or large print, accessible PDF.

We’ll consider your request to see what we can do to help and get back to you within 5 working days. If we can meet your request we would aim to do so within 10 working days. However, this could take longer depending on the content itself, the format requested, and the resource needed to produce this.

If you cannot view the maps on our Visit pages, call us on 0131 348 5000 or email us at [email protected] for directions.

Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person

We provide a text relay service for people who are D/deaf, hearing-impaired or have a speech impediment.

Our offices have audio induction loops, or if you contact us before your visit we can arrange a BSL interpreter.

Find out how to get in touch on the Contact Us page.

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 get in touch with us and you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

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

Compliance status

The website has been tested against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 AA standard.

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Non-accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

  • no closed captions or audio descriptions on multimedia before October 2020 due to legacy content: 1.2.2 (Level A) and 1.2.5 (Level AA)
  • more context needs to be provided for links across the website, including contact details, icons and links that open in new browser windows: 2.4.4 (Level A)
  • primary ad secondary legislation documents and amendment PDF documents (not included under WCAG 2.1 criteria). Due to the legacy system where the Bill documents and amendments are created, this is not something that we can solve in the short-term.

PDFs and other documents

Many of our PDFs and Word documents published on our old site (pre-2021) do not meet accessibility standards. For example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role value). However, we no longer have access to the content management system that would allow us to retrospectively fix these issues.

New PDFs or Word documents that we produce in-house should meet accessibility standards, except for the Bill or amendment documents and third-party submissions listed previously.

Some documents submitted by third parties, for example as evidence to committees, are not accessible. While we do what we can to improve access to these, such as providing a contact for people to use to ask for alternative formats, we consider it would be a “disproportionate burden”, as defined by the regulations, to fix all of these issues. The reasons are set out below.

We will therefore focus on ensuring that documents are accessible when they're required for essential services or are meant for, or specifically address the needs of, disabled people. We will continue to provide contact information when content is not accessible in order that requests for alternative formats can be made.

Disproportionate burden

In circumstances where compliance with the accessibility requirement would represent a “disproportionate burden” to a relevant organisation, and an assessment demonstrating this is carried out and published, the regulations provide that the content to which the disproportionate burden applies does not have to meet the accessibility requirement. While the Scottish Parliament is committed to making our online content as accessible as possible, certain website content has been identified as not meeting the accessibility requirement and for which a disproportionate burden is considered to apply following an assessment having been carried out.

We have assessed that it would be a disproportionate burden to fix all documents provided by third parties which we need to publish on the Scottish Parliament website. The content to which this applies includes:

  • written submissions received in document formats (as opposed to submitted via our online consultation tools)
  • committee correspondence
  • Cross-party group meeting papers and minutes

We undertook a sample exercise of each of these in September 2023, audited the content for accessibility issues, considered web-traffic information available and estimated the time it would take to fix these. We costed this based on the staff working at junior professional/supervisory level because the activity requires specialist skills and knowledge. We also looked at web traffic to these pages and used this to understand the potential benefits from the effort required.

The size, resources and nature of our organisation mean that we manage a high number of documents and must manage this within the resources available. We assessed the cost of fixing the issues preventing compliance for the content mentioned previously. We believe that doing so now would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations.

In summary, we consider that making the content accessible would represent a disproportionate burden on the Scottish Parliament. The benefit to users would be limited and we are committed to providing information as alternative versions of documents which are of particular interest.

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

PDFs and other documents

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 do not plan to fix all content that is not directly related to the official business of the Parliament.

Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

Live video

Live time-based media and pre-recorded time-based media published before 23 September 2020 is excluded from the scope of the regulations. On this basis we do not plan to add captions to all live video streams but remain committed to continuing to investigate ways of making live streams more accessible as technology improves.

Lack of closed captions and audio description on video content for all Chamber and committee meetings fails 1.2.2 (Level A) and 1.2.5 (Level AA). Due to the significant volume of legacy video content from Parliamentary business and the time and resource it is calculated it would take in order to make these compliant, this is not something that we will be able to solve in the short-term. We will consider this again when the accessibility statement is next reviewed.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We commissioned an external specialist between December 2018 and January 2019 to do a full accessibility audit of our website. The audit was carried out using:

  • automated tools such as WAVE
  • going through content manually with screen readers, for example Jaws and NVDA
  • testing with screen magnification software, for example ZoomText
  • using colour-contrast tools across the website

We made changes based on the recommendations where we could and some of these changes are part of our improvement plan.

A further audit was carried out by User Vision on sections of the website in Spring 2022, 2023 and 2024. This is an exercise that we intend to repeat annually so that we are continually improving accessibility and fixing issues. We use the findings of these exercises to inform and help us prioritise our ongoing work in this area.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This website was last tested in full, by Passion 4 Social, a digital social enterprise, against the WCAG 2.1 AA standard between December 2018 and January 2019.

Further audits, on particular areas of the site, have been carried out by User Vision in Spring 2022, 2023 and 2024.

The MSP Travel and Expenses section was audited by Access By Design in April 2023. They made a number of recommendations to achieve compliance at AA standard. These changes were implemented prior to the launch of the website in May 2023.

This statement was last updated on 23 March 2024.

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