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Disproportionate Burden Assessment

Disproportionate Burden Assessment

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (UKSC) is committed to working towards meeting the requirement to make websites accessible, set out in The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 ("the accessibility regulations").

However, our work covers a broad range of information and online activity. We have a vast, static and complex website, and have limited resources to resolve all known accessibility issues

Our approach to carrying out accessibility checks

We have used a combination of methods to assess the accessibility of the UKSC website, as set out in the GOV.UK guidance on deciding how to check your websites and in compliance with the accessibility regulations.

We have done a detailed accessibility check on the website. As set out in our Accessibility Statement, the process for doing this detailed check included Browser matrix and Assistive Technology combination. The web browsers used for the Accessibility audit for desktop were Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox and Safari, with the Assistive Technology used included JAWS 18 & 2019, NVDA, Dragon Voice Activation v15, Keyboard, Screen Magnification and System inverted colours.

Our Accessibility Statement covers issues we found on the website and details any issues it would be a disproportionate burden to fix.

Where our features are not accessible, we have conducted a disproportionate burden assessment in line with the accessibility regulations.

Our organisation's size, resources and nature

The UKSC has a very small amount of dedicated Web Development and Content resource. We have one full-time Digital Communications & Website Content Manager.

The postholder has a wide variety of business as usual tasks, as well as projects, to deliver. They are responsible for maintaining the UKSC website, as well as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) website and the corporate events and webshop microsites.

We've assessed the cost of fixing the below issues. We believe that doing so now in the short term would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations.

This is due to the current styling for the UKSC website. To fix these issues would require redevelopment of the website and maintenance. Consideration has been given to the size of the organisations and the current resources available within the court.

Technical Information about this website's accessibility

We know that some elements of UKSC website are not fully accessible on all our pages. For example:

  • The text will not reflow in a single column when you change the size of the window (apart from on the home page and current cases)
  • You cannot modify the line height or spacing of text
  • Some of the tables and graphs are structured in a way that is difficult to read on a screen reader

As mentioned above, the current issues above would require a complete overhaul and redevelopment of the UKSC website, for which we currently don't have the resources.

We have implemented an accessibility roadmap in which the top 400 viewed pages across the site now comply with accessibility standards for greater efficiency, which we have determined to be a proportionate response. While we have worked on the most viewed pages, some of the remaining pages, outside the top 400, have the below issues.

These Include:

  • On some of the pages across the Supreme Court website there is no way to skip to the main content. This fails WCAG Success Criterion 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks. We will ensure that all new pages created for the UKSC will have the skip to main content within the header. This issue has been resolved for the top 400 viewed pages and a skip to the main content will be included for all new content pages. As an organisation we have focused on ensuring the most popular content is accessible as possible.
  • Some of our documents may not identify headings, lists or data tables correctly. This means for some users using a screen reader might not be able to follow the structure of the document, which could potentially affect their ability to access and understand the information. This currently doesn't meet Success Criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships. We are aware that some data tables within some pages on this website may not be structured correctly. Our key objective as an organisation is to focus on the top 400 viewed pages and having the appropriate structure for all new pages created in the future.
  • Some of our documents or pages may have diagrams or tables. Some of these do not have a text alternative which means the information isn't available to people using a screen reader. This doesn't meet WCAG Success Criterion 1.1.1 Non-text Content. We will ensure that all new pages for documents are accessible and include a text alternative. With this site having HTML pages dated back to the year 2009 and low traffic, we have prioritised on all new webpages and current high traffic pages to have a text alternative for all relevant images, diagrams or tables.
  • Some of the page content may not reflow when viewed on devices and zoomed in at 400%. To resolve this would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations as it would require a complete overhaul of the website at a significant cost. This currently doesn't meet WCAG Reference 1.4.10 Reflow. We are aware this issue of the page content may not reflow, this would require a number of resources and time which we currently do not have in place. As an organisation we are focusing on improving the website by implementing the accessibility roadmap to ensure that our website is accessible as possible for all users.
  • On some pages the purpose of each link can't be determined from the link text alone. This currently doesn't meet the WCAG 2.4.4 Lin Purpose (in context) and WCAG 4.1.2. We have focused on ensuring the top 400 most viewed pages meet this requirement and all new pages created in the future with additional links will have this requirement in place. As an organisation we have prioritised all new pages and the top 400 viewed pages to pass this requirement. Some pages which may not have this requirement will have low traffic and currently doesn't have many users to the specific page.
  • Most older PDF documents are not fully accessible to screen reader software. Our website contains a large number of PDFs created in previous years, for example judgments, press summaries, term lists, annual reports and management board minutes.

We do not intend to recreate documents in accessible versions as this would be a disproportionate burden. The accessibility regulations don't require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they're not essential to providing our services. Wherever possible after that date we have endeavoured to make high usage PDFs accessible or published in HTML.

Our assessment of the burden of making these PDFs into accessible HTML formats is that:

  • There are hundreds of historic documents created by the UKSC.
  • Each document would require a number of hours of work to be recreated in a fully accessible version (estimated based on extensive experience of converting the active documents at between one and 72 hours per document, depending on length and complexity, plus any required checking and formal sign-off process.
  • Many of the documents contain complex elements which are difficult to retrospectively convert, such as detailed tables, graphs, and diagrams.

Also relevant to this decision:

  • Interest in these documents is relatively low as few people access them.
  • Requests for accessible versions of these documents are rare.
  • All judgments are available in HTML, through a BAILII version, which is linked to from the case webpage and available within 24 hours of the judgment hand-down.

Where documents are no longer in active use, or no longer being updated, there is a high cost in terms of employee hours to convert. We consider that the costs of converting documents where there is little evidence of demand would be a poor use of limited staff time and would represent a disproportionate burden on the organisation in terms of cost.

We will always assist with requests for our publications to be provided in different formats on a case-by-case basis.

As stated in our accessibility statement, we now ensure that all documents are fully accessible as PDFs or in HTML.

Live video streams do not have captions, and we do not plan to add them because this is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations. Video on demand content is close captioned.

What we're doing to improve accessibility

As part of our accessible roadmap across the organisation, the Supreme Court has invested in training materials for all content managers to produce accessible documents which need to be uploaded for the UKSC website. We are continuously improving accessibility to our best ability with our current website infrastructure and limited resources in place. We are still working through the current accessibility roadmap following a recent audit from the Digital Accessibility Centre and Government Digital Service.

We plan to work through issues on the UKSC website and ensure that any new content published on the site is accessible and where possible carry out regular testing and make improvements when necessary.

This statement was prepared on Wednesday 12th May 2021. It was last reviewed on Wednesday 12th May 2021.