Future Media Standards & Guidelines

Accessibility Guidelines v1.10

1. Introduction

This standard outlines the requirements and recommendations for making BBC websites accessible with respect to editorial content and user experience. Other technical aspects of accessibility are covered in the technical standards, e.g. Semantic Mark-up, CSS, Javascript, XHTML, etc. Other aspects of accessibility are covered in separate standards, e.g. subtitles, use of colour, flicker and movement, games, keyboard access, text equivalents, text links etc.

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2. Editorial content

2.1 You MUST provide an accessible alternative to any potentially inaccessible core content, including all plug-in content, UNLESS this can be proven to be technically or practically impossible.A1

2.2 All accessible alternative content MUST be updated in line with and at the same time as the original content.

2.3 You MUST provide an appropriate text equivalent for each non-text element of the core content. See the Textual Equivalents Standard.

2.4 Where the language in the document changes (e.g. from English to Welsh), you MUST indicate this with a tag containing a Lang attribute.

2.5 All text of more than two lines MUST be left aligned (if published language is naturally ranged left e.g. English), except for tabular data and where the formatting is integral to the meaning of the text, e.g. poetry.

2.6 You SHOULD use plain language and avoid jargon.

2.7 You SHOULD divide large blocks of information into manageable chunks e.g. use short paragraphs.

2.8 Lines SHOULD NOT be longer than 70 characters (for the browser default font setting) including the spaces in between words, except:

  • Where it is not suitable for the language of the website (e.g. Arabic); or
  • the line is a URL or code fragment.

2.9 You SHOULD specify the expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs.

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3. Images

3.1 Editorial content MUST make sense without reference to images or diagrams UNLESS the subject matter can only be displayed via images (e.g. a 'spot the difference' game).

3.2 You MUST provide redundant text links for each active region of an image map.

3.3 You MUST provide alt text for all editorially significant images. See Text Equivalents standard.

3.4 Instructional images SHOULD make sense without text, e.g. a user must be able to follow a set of diagrammatical instructions without the help of a text explanation.

3.5 You MAY support instructions with diagrams.

3.6 Where appropriate, you SHOULD use pictures and symbols in addition to text.

3.7 You SHOULD support your "calls to action" with icons.

3.8 You SHOULD ONLY use symbols (e.g. < or >) in content for their semantic use (rather than, for example, using >> as a fast forward button).

3.9 All links to video content SHOULD be accompanied by an image that encapsulates what the programme is or is about.

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4. Structure/function/layout

4.1 You MUST provide consistent navigation.

4.2 You MUST clearly define the different sections of the page and ensure consistent location of screen objects.

4.3 You MUST NOT create periodically auto-refreshing pages in their default state, i.e. you can allow an opt-in auto-refresh.

4.4 You MUST NOT break browser back button functionality.

4.5 Page layout MUST accommodate the enlarging of text. Users MUST be able to resize text (with the exception of captions and images of text) by 200% without the use of assistive technologies.

4.6 You MUST NOT open a new window from an existing browser by any mechanism UNLESS this is a small window (aka pop-up) to contain a media player. You MUST conform to the XHTML Integrity Standard.

4.7 Due to accessibility concerns you MUST NOT use CAPTCHAs on bbc.co.uk without first discussing this with the Editor, Standards & Guidelines.

4.8 All text based content SHOULD be published on a plain solid background.

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5. Audio and video content (A/V)

5.1 Audio and video content MUST NOT autoplay UNLESS the users knows this is going to happen.

5.2 You SHOULD provide subtitles/captions that can be turned off and on for AV content (including AV content featured in interactive features or games), unless you have evidence that the business costs are a risk to the success of the project’s fruition.

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6. Forms

6.1 Forms MUST conform to the Semantic Markup standard.

6.2 Forms MUST be navigable using the keyboard.

6.3 You MUST provide a ‘submit’ button for all forms. You MAY use an image to perform this function but if you do you MUST provide alt text for this image.

6.4 You SHOULD provide input assistance to help users avoid and correct mistakes.

6.4.1 When an input error is automatically detected, the item that is in error SHOULD be identified and the error described.

6.4.2 When an input error is automatically detected and suggestions for correction are known, then the suggestions SHOULD be provided to the user UNLESS it would jeopardize the security or purpose of the content.

Further guidance can be found on the following websites:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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7. Documents

7.1 All downloadable documents including PDFs MUST be made available in alternative accessible formats, either HTML or Text.

7.2 All PDFs MUST comply with the PDF Accessibility Guidelines.

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8. Appendix A: Why

  • A1. An accessible alternative is defined as one that meets the information, educational and entertainment objectives of the original content. See the PDF Accessibility Guidelines for how to present core content in PDF format.

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