Accessibility regulations: disproportionate burden assessment

We are committed to meeting our legal obligations set out in the The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 ("No. 2 Regulations"). 

We have over 20 websites and thousands of documents and limited resources to check them all for accessibility issues.  

Our approach to carrying out accessibility checks

We use a combination of methods for our organisation, as set out in the GOV.UK guidance on deciding how to check your websites and in compliance with the No. 2 Regulations. 

Detailed checks

We have detailed accessibility checks for the most important content we provide:

  • the main Cheshire East Council website (cheshireeast.gov.uk)
  • digital transactions, many of which are branded consistently with our main site or hosted as a sub-domain, e.g. online.cheshireeast.gov.uk

These detailed checks are managed by the Web Team (a specialist web content and user experience team)

The process for doing detailed checks includes:

  • manual testing based on GOV.UK's guidance on doing a detailed accessibility check
    • we ask staff who use assistive technologies to check our website and applications
    • automated testing using accessibility monitoring software.
      • our content management system (CMS), Contensis, checks for issues before a page is submitted for publishing
      • our templates are checked using Wave toolbars from WebAim
      • we use the published reports from SiteMorse and Silktide to identify further issues
      • Manual keyboard navigation tests
      • we use the monitoring service from Silktide

Samples of transactions for testing will include services with high volumes of use across different corporate portals and platforms, including:

  • Bin collection calendars and reporting missed bins
  • Commenting on planning applications
  • Reporting roadworks

Our accessibility statement for cheshireeast.gov.uk will cover problems we find for cheshireeast.gov.uk and our transactions, and our plans to fix them. 

Basic checks

We carry out basic accessibility checks on our websites that are independent of cheshireeast.gov.uk. There are more than 20 such sites including:

  • Tattonpark.org.uk (381 pages)
  • Cheshire Archives (86 pages)
  • TSS (57 pages)
  • Ansa.co.uk (39 pages)
  • Orbitas.co.uk (108 pages)

Basic checks will be carried out by the editors for the website, based on:

Basic checks include

  • their homepage
  • content pages that are mostly text based
  • images, video and audio content
  • interactive tools and transactions, like forms
  • pages including login functionality, if the website has them
  • PDFs and other document types they have
  • dynamic content like pop-up windows
  • navigation pages, including their sitemap and pages with search functionality

These websites will publish their own accessibility statements, independent of cheshireeast.gov.uk. 

Disproportionate burden

Commissioning website audits

We have assessed that it would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the No. 2 Regulations to pay an auditor to do a detailed check on our entire collection of websites. 

Our most important content and transactions are provided on our main website, cheshireeast.gov.uk, and its associated portals and platforms. We're doing detailed checks of these. 

We do not believe the benefit of paying for detailed checks of our other websites would justify the impact on our organisation.

Documents

As of 17 August 2020 there were 8,707 PDF documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk (not including those in applications such as ModernGov – Council agendas and reports)

2,660 have been published since 23 September 2018 (within scope of the No. 2 Regulations).

Of these 2,660:

  • 38 documents (1.4%) have been viewed more than 1000 times
  • 114 documents (4.2%) have been viewed between 500 and 1000 times
  • 344 documents (13%) have been viewed between 100 and 500 times
  • 1251 documents (47%) have been viewed between 10 and 100 times

Fixing documents 

We have assessed that it would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the No. 2 Regulations to retrospectively fix all documents published on cheshireeast.gov.uk since 23 September 2018. 

Since September 2018 we have checked the majority of documents for accessibility before they are published. It would be a lengthy exercise to identify which now need to be fixed.

The most viewed documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk were published before 2018. The majority of those are leaflets for walks and training scenarios for schools, both of which are intended for print.

For this reason, we don't believe the cost of time, effort and resource to fix all the documents is justified. 

We will fix the most viewed documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk (top 2%) as we get the opportunity.  We will continue to check new documents are as accessible as we can make them.

In limited circumstances, for example responses to planning consultations or inspections, there is a legal requirement to publish documents in restricted timeframes. We may not be able to confirm the accessibility of these documents. 

Estimated costs 

Paying for website detailed audits 

We have assessed the costs of detailed external audits (and later re-audits) for our 20 websites independent of cheshireeast.gov.uk

If 80% of our independent websites were considered small and 20% were large, the cost would be between £46,000 and £166,400.

These costs are based on estimates from GOV.UK's guidance on deciding how to check your website and getting an accessibility audit. This includes:

  • a third-party day rate of £1,300
  • about 1 to 3 days to audit a small website
  • about 5 to 20 days to audit a large website

We have excluded cheshireeast.gov.uk and our most essential digital transactions from the cost assessment as our detailed internal checks on these mean we are highlighting, resolving and preventing issues on an ongoing basis.

Cost of fixing inaccessible documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk

It's difficult to know how long it would take to make every document accessible without first reviewing each one. 

If it took approximately one hour to review and fix each document within scope, fixing all 2,660 would take 359 working days (based on a 7.4-hour working day at Cheshire East Council). Approximately - £32,000 based on hourly rate for mid point grade 6.

Estimated benefits

The relatively low volume, frequency and duration of use of the small independent websites and the low level of usage for most documents indicates that the vast majority of this work would have little to no benefit to users.

Assessment of costs against benefits

We believe the potential of paying thousands of pounds just on audits (before we've actually fixed anything) is unreasonable.

For most of our websites, the extra benefits for customers with a disability that could be gained from paying for a detailed check would not justify the cost above doing a basic check internally. 

Customers will benefit more if we continue to focus our resources on fixing the most used documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk, and ensuring that new documents are as accessible as we can make them.

The costs of paying for detailed checks for all our websites and fixing all documents on cheshireeast.gov.uk would therefore be a disproportionate burden on our organisation

Further considerations

In reaching this decision, we have also considered the following:

Our organisation’s size and resources

Cheshire East Council is a local authority managing increasing front-line service demands (e.g. for adult social care) but reducing annual budgets.

During 2020 we have been forced to re-prioritise resources owing to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, ensuring business continuity of essential services. 

The nature of our organisation

We do provide services aimed at people with a disability. These are included on our main website, cheshireeast.gov.uk, and our associated transaction platforms (which we're doing detailed checks of). 

We believe that:

  • it is important to make information available to the majority of web site visitors in a timely manner that can be revised at a later date if it is not accessible
  • maintaining statutory and essential front-line services should be prioritised above paying for independent website audits
  • it would be reasonable within the meaning of the No. 2 Regulations for our services to carry out basic checks of their independent websites, and use any available resource to fix the main issues found on their sites

Our services will be assisted in their basic checks by:

  • automated accessibility monitoring software (Silktide), for which we are  paying approximately £6,000 annually
  • internal guidance and support from the Web Team