Accessibility, Readability and Usability

It is our aim to make available to as many people as possible and we hope you are able to find the answers to your questions quickly and browse around the site with ease. With this in mind, please read our guidelines based on:

  • Accessibility - how to change this website for you to view it more easily.
  • Readability - our standards for content on the website.
  • Usability - how to use the site to find the information you need.


How to change text size

You can change text size on your web browser. Please remember that this setting will remain until you change it back yourself, so every website you view after you change these settings will be in the text size you have selected, possibly even after you have turned off and restarted your computer.

Microsoft Internet Explorer browser

On the menu at the top of the browser, go to View> Text Size> and select the size you require. On Explorer 4, click 'Internet Options' on the View or Tools menu> on the General Tab click 'Fonts'> Select your preferred text size.

Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera browsers

Holding down the 'Ctrl' key on your keyboard and scrolling the page either up or down with your mouse will make text size bigger or smaller.

Netscape Navigator browser

Go to View> and select either Increase or Decrease font. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to do this in Netscape; 'Ctrl + ] ' for increase and 'Ctrl + [' for decrease.

Here is more information about changing text size.

What to do if strange characters appear

If you have strange characters appearing within the text on the webpage, such as &* instead of apostrophes, this is likely to be a setting on your browser. Western European (ISO-8859-1) is the preferred encoding on our website. If you are using Internet Explorer, this can be set by going to View> Encoding> and select Western European.

How to change your screen resolution

Changing your screen resolution will change the size of everything on your screen, including your software programmes - it's not just for enlarging text on websites. Once you change the resolution, please remember that it will stay at this setting until you change it back yourself. You can maximise the size of the window in the Internet Explorer browser by going to View> Full Screen, or pressing the F11 button on your keyboard. To restore the window to its original size, click on the 'Restore' button at the top right hand corner of the screen (the one which shows two small, overlapping squares.) This website has been designed to be viewable at all screen resolutions greater than 1024 x 768 without sideways scrolling. It can be viewed by all browsers.

How to view the site without images

This website should still be usable if images are turned off. If you are using an Internet Explorer browser, turn off images as follows: Go to Tools> Internet Options> Advanced>, and in the Multimedia section, remove the tick next to 'Show Pictures'>; click 'Apply'> then click 'OK'. We aim to provide a 'text only' version of all graphical images to ensure all the information on the website is accessible by all. All our images are provided with appropriate ALT tags, to serve as a text alternative to images when required.

I use images across the website to make it more visually interesting and to help explain content. All graphics on this website are optimized for web use, meaning that they are reduced in quality so that they do not delay the webpage loading, so it should only take a short time to appear on your monitor. Images are kept quite small so that users viewing with a 1024 x 768 resolution screen set up or using a screen magnifier can still navigate around the page easily. Most photographs may be enlarged by 'hovering' the mouse over the image. Images used on the site are in JPEG or GIF format. Our site does not use frames or flash, to prevent user restriction.

How to use Access Keys

For screenreaders and other serial browsers, all the links, forms and text on this site should be as accessible with the keyboard (or equivalent pointing/actuating device) as they are with the mouse. You can navigate using Tab and Enter, or whatever commands you would normally use. Groups of related links are generally organised into lists. This website also makes use of special access keys. Hold down the Alt key and a number, as shown below, then press Enter:

  • Alt 1 Enter - Home page.
  • Alt 2 Enter - Bypass the navigation and go to the main content of the current page.
  • Alt 3 Enter - Site Map.
  • Alt 4 - Search facility.
  • Alt 5 Enter - News and Information page.
  • Alt 6 Enter - Top of page.
  • Alt 7 Enter - Left-hand navigation section.
  • Alt 9 Enter - Contact us.
  • Alt 0 Enter - This Accessibility Statement.

Having used Alt 7 to skip to the left-hand navigation section, you can then move around the menus with the arrow keys. You can activate a link by pressing Enter as normal, or jump back onto the page with Alt 7 again. This works in any Mozilla browser, Safari 1.2, or Windows Internet Explorer (versions 5, 6, 7). In Opera 7 or later: You can move around the navbar and menus using the A and Q [anchor navigation] keys, or using Spatial Navigation (hold down Shift then use the arrow keys to move around the page in two-dimensions; support for spatial navigation is not perfect, but it's pretty good). You can activate a link by pressing the Enter key as normal.

Accessibility testing

Level Double-A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 This website has been tested to check that it complies with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative's Guidelines 1.0 (W3C WAI) website accessibility guidelines. The test checks the coding, format and content of the page against the guidelines and passes or fails it against 3 statuses - A, AA or AAA compliance. Every webpage is also checked manually before it is published on the website, based again on the W3C accessibility guidelines. Manual testing consists of ensuring links go to the correct page and that page content is written in a way that is easy to understand.


Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS! This website uses version 4.01 of HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for formatting and layout. The pages of this website are best viewed using a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. Higher screen resolutions than 1024x768 will just make the page look smaller. See 'How to change screen resolution' for further information.

This website also uses:
EZPZ Photo-Caption Zoom by Randsco which is coded in CSS;
Search engine by Fluid Dynamics Software which is coded in Perl;
AXS Visitor Tracking by Fluid Dynamics Software which is coded in Perl;
Visual Slideshow (on the Gallery pages) which is coded in JavaScript.

JavaScript is initially disabled in some browsers. Visual Slideshow will ‘degrade gracefully’ if JavaScript is disabled - each thumbnail photo has to be selected manually. Part of the code on the ‘Contact Us’ page is also coded in JavaScript. JavaScript may be enabled as instructed by Microsoft Support.


We try to write the content of the website in simple, easy to understand language and avoid jargon where possible. We aim to explain what each area of the website contains on its homepage (the main index page of each area) to help you find the information you need. If you do have any problems however, please see 'Usability' below for a few tips on navigating this website. This website should still be usable if images are turned off - see 'How to view the site without images'. We aim to provide a 'text only' version of all graphical images to ensure all the content on the website is accessible.


Viewable With Any Browser Since a web page can be interpreted differently by different browsers with different capabilites, and since the language of a web page- HTML, is constantly evolving, accessibility must be considered to make a page usable by as many people as possible. The keys to making a web page accessible are graceful degradation, standards compliance, fast loading, and intelligent organization. This website is participating in the campaign for a non-browser-specific WWW.

This website has been developed so you can find the information you require quickly and easily. There are several ways to navigate around the site:

Main site navigation On every webpage on the left hand side there is a list of topics based on services we provide. Behind each of these topics is a 'homepage' which lists all the sub-topics in that area.

Search whole website for a particular subject At the top right of each page is a box where you can enter a key word or phrase that you would like to search the whole of the website for. The results of the search are presented as a series of selectable links to each page that contains the key word or phrase that you entered.

Breadcrumb Trail The breadcrumb trail is the list of links displayed at the top of the page, just under the header picture. This shows you where you are in the website structure. You can get back to the homepage (index page) of a topic by selecting a link from the trail.