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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is a public organisation, and as a result requires websites and applications that are part of the domain to meet certain accessibility criteria where possible. The Research Design Service (RDS) is part of the NIHR and the RDS South West (RDS SW) is one of several regional services around the country making up the national RDS.

This accessibility statement applies to the NIHR RDS South West website, This website is run by the NIHR RDS South West website and this statement explains how we meet Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explained

To make sure that our website is accessible, we follow the World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1. WCAG is a universally accepted standard for measuring the accessibility of a website and it uses a scale A, AA and AAA to rate the accessibility of content.

We are committed to making sure, where possible, that its content meets AA compliance. AA compliance means people who have a disability should be able to access the majority of our content easily.

How we tested this website

This website was last tested on 17th September 2020 and was carried out automatically using a web accessibility checker tool called WAVE. Any errors identified by WAVE align with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) failures. Manual testing is still necessary to ensure optimal accessibility and this will be carried out as a priority. Any new webpages, content and resources will be tested using both automatic and manual methods.

How accessible this website is

We have ensured that resources required to access our service are accessible, however the tests outlined above found that some parts of this website are not fully accessible. As a result this website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 AA standard, due to the issues listed below:

Menus and buttons
Our main navigation menu and our buttons are not always fully accessible. We are fixing these as a matter of priority.

Website structure
Our website uses layout tables to position content visually - to create columns, insert spacing, or align content neatly for sighted users. This can make the website difficult to access and navigate for screen reader users. We are fixing this as a matter of priority.

Some images do not have appropriate text alternatives, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. We plan to add and improve text alternatives for all images within the next 4 months.

PDF (Portable Document Format) documents
Most older PDF documents are not fully accessible to screen reader software.

Website text
We have made the website text as simple as possible to understand, using plain English wherever possible. Some of our content is technical, and contains scientific terms and language. In some instances we have not been able to simplify the wording without changing the meaning of the text.

Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

We have ensured essential information on how users can access our service is provided in an accessible format. Accessible methods to access our service are also provided.

PDFs and other documents
The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other content that is neither funded nor developed by, nor under our control. For example, we do not plan to fix PDF documents of presentations where the content was not produced by us.

The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other content published before 23 September 2018 if they are not essential to providing our services. For example, we do not plan to fix PDF documents in our event archive. Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We plan to improve accessibility on this website by:

  • improving the accessibility issues already identified within the next 4 months
  • ensuring new published content is accessible and has gone through accessibility checks
  • ensuring any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards
  • reviewing the website text to ensure it is as simple as possible to understand, using plain English wherever possible
  • ensuring visitors can use the website even if Javascript is switched off

How to get information in an accessible format

If you have problems accessing information on this website, or would like any of our work in a more accessible format please email us details of your request to We will consider your request, and aim to respond within 5 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We are always looking to improve the accessibility of the website. We know some parts of the website are not fully accessible, and the complexity and volume of content available presents difficulties in identifying all accessibility issues. If you find any problems which aren't listed on this page, or think that we're not meeting the requirements of the accessibility regulations, then please email with the details to let us know and help us improve.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).


This statement was prepared on 17th September 2020. It was last updated on 22nd September 2020.

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