Website Accessibility Statement
Read our accessibility statement for the Historic Environment Scotland website and its associated subdomains and discover our work on digital access.
This is the accessibility statement for the Historic Environment Scotland (‘HES’) website and its associated subdomains:
We are dedicated to accessibility and want as many people as possible to be able to use our websites. The statement below outlines the accessibility of our HES website and its associated subdomains and where any issues may be found.
Using these websites
We want as many people as possible to be able to use the HES website and its subdomains to access Scotland's history and heritage. We built these websites so you can:
- change colours, contrast levels and fonts
- zoom in up to 200% without the text or images spilling off the screen
- navigate the websites using just a keyboard
- navigate most of the websites using speech recognition software
- listen to most of the websites using a screen reader
- Watch pre-recorded videos with subtitles and captions
We’ve also made the website text as simple as possible to understand.
AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.
How accessible these websites are
While we work hard to make our platforms and content accessible, we know some parts of these websites aren’t fully accessible yet.
Here is a brief list of content that is not currently accessible:
- many documents are in PDF format and are not accessible
- some parts of the websites, including images, videos, status messages and bulletins, online forms, page titles, headers, buttons and links may not be fully compatible with assistive technologies due to missing alt text, labels, descriptions, captions and website code
- content (like menus) that appear identically across the websites may not display consistently and the reading order of some content may be incorrect when using assistive technologies
- some images may not be customisable, colour contrasts may not be high enough and some text spacing may not match minimum requirements causing difficulties if you have a visual impairment
- some text and images may spill off the screen at some screen resolutions, when you change the size of the browser window or when zooming to 200%
- hovering over content does not always reveal essential information
- keyboard navigation and its focus indicator do not work on every part of every website, active keyboard shortcuts cannot be turned off or changed and there is no option to skip to main content
- our online forms are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard and assistive technologies, and might time you out or not let you review your details before submitting
- complex mouse movements and missing website language settings may confuse some assistive technologies
A full, technical list of currently inaccessible content and areas of the websites can be found in the section of this accessibility statement titled ‘Non accessible content’.
What to do if you can’t access parts of these websites
If you need information on these websites or any of its subdomains in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording, or braille:
We’ll consider your request and try to get back to you in 5 working days, or if your request is more complex, please allow us up to 20 working days for a full reply.
When contacting us please make sure you provide:
- the service area, document name and/or the web address (URL) of the page the content is on.
- a description of the format you need. For example, audio CD, braille, BSL or large print.
Find out more about our customer services in our service standards.
Reporting accessibility problems with these websites
We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of the HES website and its subdomains. If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or think we’re not meeting the requirements of the accessibility regulations, contact the digital team:
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 submit a complaint and you’re not happy with how we respond, contact the EHRC.
Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person
You can also visit us in person for more resources. Find us at:
For directions, please call 0131 668 8600 or view our location on Google Maps.
For access information on a site you are visiting please visit our 'Visit a place' section of the website.
Our Access Guide is also available for visitors to the historic places in our care.
Let us know about any requirements you have in advance of your visit and we will endeavour to accommodate you:
Technical information about these websites’ accessibility
HES is committed to making the HES website and its subdomains accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 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.
Noncompliance with the accessibility regulations
Buttons and labels
Some of the buttons on the websites are not labelled with a name that describes their purpose. Some of the buttons are also not labelled descriptively in the mark up of the websites. This may impact on you if you use a screen reader or voice control. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.1.1 (Non-text content: controls).
Some of the forms on the websites have labelled fields but do not have labelled buttons. This may make it difficult to determine the purpose of the button used to submit the information and does not warn the user of a change of web page context. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.3.5 (Identify input purpose) and 3.2.2 (On input: UI components and context).
On some parts of the websites, the headings and labels for content do not describe the topic or purpose of the content, or they are not programmatically associated to the content. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 2.4.6 (Headings and labels).
For items on the websites like links and images that are repeated consistently and in the same order across multiple pages of the websites, we have not used standard or identical labels and alt-text for said repeated content. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criteria 3.2.4 (Consistent identification).
Some buttons may be missing labels or instructions. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 3.3.2 (Labels or instructions).
Non-text content (media, tables, and text alternatives)
Some images or non-text content don’t have alternative text or descriptive enough labels to explain their content. This means that the information displayed by them isn’t available to people using a screen reader and they can’t skip past the decorative images. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.1.1 (Non-text content: sensory content).
Some images are used as decoration on the websites and should be marked as such. People using a screen reader may not be notified that these are non-essential images and may worry they have missed some information. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.1.1 (Non-text content: decoration, formatting, invisible).
Not all time-based media like prerecorded video or audio have alternative media like audio-descriptions, captions, or text transcripts to describe the content. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.2.3 (Audio description or media alternative (Prerecorded)).
If we are using images of text to convey written information, the user may not be able to visually customise the image of text. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.5 (Images of text: customisable).
User interface components (things users click on) that include visual text or images of text may not have names that reflect the visual text. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.5.3 (Label in name).
Sensory characteristics and colour contrast
Some instructions provided on the websites may rely solely on sensory characteristic components such as shape, colour, size, visual location, orientation, or sound. Some users may be unable to engage with, navigate, and access this content. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criteria 1.3.3 (Sensory characteristics) and 1.4.1 (Use of colour).
Some information and items (like links) on the websites are only distinguishable by colour. This means users might not be able to see or recognise the information and/or function of the item. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criteria 1.4.1 (Use of colour).
The colour contrast of large-scale text, images of text, and graphical objects on the websites may not be high enough to display content clearly (except for logos which are a contrast exception). This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.3 (Contrast minimum) and 1.4.11 (Non-text contrast: graphical objects).
Visual formatting (zoom, orientation, resolution, and text spacing)
Some parts of the content or websites may disappear or change context when zooming in up to 200%. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.4 (Resize text).
At certain resolutions, content may not reflow and there may be a loss of information or functionality which requires scrolling in two dimensions. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.10 (Reflow).
We cannot guarantee that all the website text meets the minimum text spacing requirements. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.12 (Text spacing).
Hovering the mouse pointer over some content does not always reveal hidden content and the hidden content may not be easily accessible. If the content can be seen on hover over, sometimes it cannot be dismissed. Whether content appears on hover over or not, we cannot guarantee content remains visible and can be dismissed by other means. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 1.4.13 (Content on hover over or focus: dismissible content, hoverable content, persistent content).
Website navigation and page timing
When using keyboard navigation, the keyboard does not highlight essential information on some parts of the websites. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.1.1 (Keyboard interface).
The keyboard focus indicator may get stuck or trapped on specific content thereby limiting navigation. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.1.2 (No keyboard trap).
There may be keyboard shortcuts that are active on the websites. Currently there is no mechanism to turn these off. This is not compliant with WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.1.4 (Character keyboard shortcut: turn off shortcuts)
There may not be a mechanism that allows users to remap keyboard shortcuts to one or more non-printable characters. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.1.4 (Character keyboard shortcuts: remap shortcuts).
Keyboard shortcuts used for website components might be active despite there being no keyboard focus on said components. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.1.4 (Character keyboard shortcuts: active only on focus).
There may not be an option for the user to turn off time limits on the websites so that they are not timed out. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.2.1 (Timing adjustable: turn off timing).
There may not be an option for the user to adjust time limits on the websites so that they are not timed out. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.2.1 (Timing adjustable: adjust timing).
There may not be an option for the user to extend time limits on the websites so that they are not timed out. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.2.1 (Timing adjustable: extend timing).
There is no mechanism available that allows the user to bypass blocks of content that are repeated on multiple web pages. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.4.1 (Bypass blocks).
In some places, the focus of the keyboard navigation is only indicated by one characteristic such as colour or a box around the focused item. As a result, if you use a keyboard to navigate, you may be unable to easily navigate the websites. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.4.1 (Use of colour) and AA-level success criterion 2.4.7 (focus visible).
There may be locations on the websites where interaction with content requires a non-essential multipoint or path-based gesture. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.5.1 (Pointer gestures).
Some navigational mechanisms (like links or menus) that are repeated on multiple web pages within a set of web pages may not occur in the same relative order each time they are repeated. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 3.2.3 (Consistent navigation order).
Web page titling, language settings, and content
There may not be a way to programmatically determine (determine in the code) the sequence content should be read in on the websites when the meaning of the website content is dependent upon it. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.3.2 (Meaningful sequence).
Some web pages may have multiple title elements or no title elements. This may lead to a user missing information or instruction because a screen reader may not have a page title to read. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.4.2 (Page titled).
The purpose of some links may not be described in the text/title of the link, so it may prove difficult to understand the purpose of the link. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.4.4 (Link purpose: in context).
The language of the page is not set within the settings or mark up of the page. This may be confusing if a user attempts to find out the language or change the language of the website. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criteria 3.1.1 (Language of page).
Website mark up and functionality
Some of the information, structure and relationships of items on the websites aren’t coded, labelled or grouped properly, therefore assistive technologies may get confused. This can result in parts of the websites not being accessible to people using assistive technology. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and relationships).
There may not be an option for a user on the websites to pause, stop, or hide moving, blinking, or scrolling information on the websites. In extreme cases, this may cause seizures. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.2.2 (Pause, stop, hide: moving, blinking, scrolling information).
There may not be an option for a user on the websites to pause, stop, or hide auto-updating content. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 2.2.2 (Pause, stop, hide: auto-updating).
Our website form submissions may not be reversible and there may not be a service that checks, reviews, and confirms the fields before submission. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 AA-level success criterion 3.3.4 (Error prevention: reversible submissions, input check, and confirming).
The name and role for all user interface components (things the user can interact with) may not be capable of being programmatically determined (verified in the website code); the website states, properties, and values (things used to interact with the websites) that can be set by the user may not be capable of being programmatically set (changed in the code); and notifications of changes to any of these items may not be available to user or assistive technologies. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, role, value).
In the event of a status message being published on the websites, the status message may not be programmatically determined through role or properties that make them accessible to assistive technologies without receiving focus. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 A-level success criterion 4.1.3 (Status messages).
By September 2021, we will work to update the websites with:
- more descriptive labels and instructions for using buttons and links
- improved alternative text and captions for images
- fully colour contrast compliant buttons, graphics and links
We are committed to improving the bulleted criteria above; however, many of these websites have the potential of being subsumed - and thereby rationalised - by upcoming website consolidation projects within the next one to two years. We have assessed the cost of fixing all other accessibility issues against the planned rationalisations and believe doing so would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations. Since we plan to fix many of these failed criteria during these upcoming projects, we will make another assessment of our commitments when we review the websites and plans in 2021.
Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations
PDFs and other documents
Some of our older office file format documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDFs) were published before 23 September 2018 and are not used for administrative or essential purposes and so may be inaccessible. Due to their age and non-essential status, they are exempt under Reg 4(2)(a).
Prerecorded video (created before 23 September 2020)
Our videos created before 23 September 2020 might not have complete or accurate closed captions, alternative text, audio descriptions or transcripts that describe the events and content of the video in text format. We don’t plan to add these alternatives because pre-recorded video from before 23 September 2020 are exempt under Reg 4(2)(b).
Live time-based media
In rare occasions, we may broadcast or stream live media on our websites. This content will not meet certain WCAG 2.1 criteria due to its incompatibility with some assistive technologies and lack of captions, subtitles and other alternatives. This type of content is exempt from the accessibility regulations under Reg 4(2)(c).
Non-navigational online maps and mapping services
Maps on these websites are not AA accessible but they are not used for navigational purposes and are therefore exempt under Reg 4(2)(d).
Third party content and technologies
Some types of content and technology used on these websites are provided by third party distributors (like YouTube, Opinion Stage or social media sites). We have not paid for, developed, nor controlled these services at any time; therefore, we are not liable for their accessibility compliance under Reg 4(2)(e).
The heritage collections composed of digitised mediums delivered by these websites fall into the accessibility regulation’s description of a heritage collection under Reg 4(3)(c); therefore, the collections are exempt under Reg 4(2)(f).
How we tested these websites
The HES website and its associated subdomains were tested for most WCAG 2.1 A-AA accessibility requirements by a web crawler hosted by a third-party company called Siteimprove. They revealed accessibility issues that require attention. We analyse and act on these tests to update our accessibility on a regular basis.
Siteimprove’s software does not test for some accessibility requirements outlined by the WCAG 2.1 A-AA. However, we manually tested a sample of pages of the HES website and associated subdomains for these requirements and will test manually again on an annual basis.
What we’re doing to improve accessibility
We’ll continue to update and audit our accessibility on an annual basis to ensure we fully meet single A and double AA standards.
We are always looking to improve our accessibility services and view accessibility as an ethical and professional obligation. If you have suggestions on how we can improve our accessibility, please contact the Digital Team and our Equalities Manager:
This statement was prepared on 11 November 2019. It was last updated on 22 May 2020.