Website Accessibility

Website Accessibility

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is committed to making its digital estate accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the Regulations).

This accessibility statement applies to Historic Environment Scotland’s website available at

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

Compliance status

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.2 AA standard, due to the non-compliances and exemptions listed below.

Non-accessible content

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


Although rare, some pages on the website have a poor hierarchy/ordering of headings or occasionally skip a heading level. This means that the content structure is not always logical for assistive technology users. We regularly scan the website for this type of authoring error and fix these issues upon detection. If the errors are programmatical, we will raise these with our developers to fix upon the next development cycle. The above failures relate to WCAG 2.2 success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships and 1.3.2 Meaningful sequence.


Some buttons that are visual cues to start a search of data are poorly labelled for users of assistive technology. There are also some examples of buttons causing an action to happen. The action is then not communicated to assistive technology users. We are working to improve these components across all of our websites by March 2024. The related WCAG 2.2 failure is success criterion 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value.


Some of our online forms are difficult to navigate using a keyboard and assistive technologies. Other forms have poorly labelled fields or buttons. This is a WCAG 2.2 failure of success criterion 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value. The forms will be updated as part of a series of changes across our digital estate and be complete by March 2024.​

Keyboard only users

There are some interactive areas of the website which filter content by date. Where there are date pickers, these are currently unavailable to keyboard only users and assistive technology. However, while alternative methods are available to add the dates, this fails against WCAG 2.2 success criterion 2.1.1 Keyboard.


The colours on the website have been chosen to meet the contrast thresholds but on occasion we have found examples of some content that fails to meet the correct ratio. Where these are programmatical errors we will log these with our website developers for change. The related WCAG 2.2 success criterion is 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum).


Many of our maps have interactive elements that filter results to the user’s preference. The checkboxes that make up the filtering process are not well labelled, making it difficult to navigate for assistive technology users. The related WCAG 2.2 failure is success criterion 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value.


There are several templates within the website that present content in a card structure. Text, images, and hyperlinks sit next to each other, but multiple links to the same destination are used. We will work with our developers to find a more suitable presentation pattern for assistive technology users. This is currently a failure of success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships.

On occasion there are user errors made in adding link text to the website, with link purpose not easily determined. This fails WCAG 2.2 success criterion 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context). We regularly scan our pages to find these errors and fix immediately.

PDFs and other non-HTML documents

We are systematically working through our PDFs to ensure that they meet the required standards. The priority is determined by how popular a document is and all new documents uploaded to the website will meet the equivalent of the WCAG standard. There are a mixture of failures within our documents, typically these fail against WCAG 2.2 success criteria 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) and 1.3.1 Info and Relationships.

Disproportionate burden

We are not claiming that any of our accessibility issues are disproportionate to fix.

Content that’s not within the scope of the 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 Regulation 4(2)(a) of the Regulations.

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

Pre-recorded 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 videos from before 23 September 2020 are exempt under Regulation 4(2)(b) of the Regulations.

Live time-based media

In rare occasions, we may broadcast or stream live media on our websites. This content will not meet certain WCAG 2.2 criteria due to its incompatibility with some assistive technologies and lack of captions, subtitles and other alternatives. This type of content is exempt  under Regulation 4(2)(c) of the Regulations.

Non-navigational online maps and mapping services

Maps on this website is not AA accessible but they are not used for navigational purposes and are therefore exempt under Regulation 4(2)(d) of the Regulations.

Third party content and technologies

Some types of content and technology used on this website is 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 Regulation 4(2)(e) of the Regulation.

Heritage collections

The heritage collections composed of digitised mediums delivered by this website falls into the Regulation’s description of a heritage collection under Regulation 4(3)(c) of the Regulations; therefore, the collections are exempt under Regulation 4(2)(f) of the Regulations.

How we tested this website

The HES website and its associated subdomains were tested by following the Government’s Simplified Audit method. Further scans were then conducted using Monsido, a popular quality assurance tool.

The web pages tested against contained web components that are replicated across the website, our common templates and our most visited pages and travelled routes.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

Our website team use Monsido as a monitoring tool to test for content, design and technical errors. Where possible they will fix any errors upon discovery. Errors that they are not able to fix will be logged for future developments. HES staff take part in a range of different training and education sessions to improve the accessibility of content created for both external and internal consumption.

Feedback and contact information

If you need information on this website 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 10 working days.

Reporting problems with this website

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, contact:

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 15 December 2023. It will be reviewed on 15 December 2024.

This website was last tested on 15 November 2023.

The self-assessment test was carried out by the Digital Accessibility Lead at Historic Environment Scotland.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).