Make your service accessible

The NHS is for everyone, so everything we create must be accessible to everyone, considering different needs and abilities.


Here’s what we expect all project teams to commit to at NHS Digital.

Consider accessibility at every stage

Think about how you are going to address accessibility at the beginning and at every stage of your project.

It’s much harder to make a service accessible if it’s only addressed late on.

Make it the whole team’s responsibility

Every member of the team should contribute to making your service inclusive.

You should all have a good understanding of accessibility and observe research with users with disabilities.

Research with users with disabilities

Include users who have disabilities or use assistive technologies in every round of user research.

Consider cognitive and physical impairments, visual impairments, and temporary or permanent access needs.

Design and build to level AA of WCAG 2.0

All code, design and content must meet at least level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Aim for AAA where possible.

Test against this standard using automated testing tools and assistive technologies.

All code and design patterns in this manual meet at least level AA of WCAG 2.0. Use our standardised patterns whenever you can.

Why it's important

In the UK, about 18% of people have a disability of some kind, and a third have temporary impairments like illness or an injury.

When you’re working on NHS services, think about how people with different needs might use what you’re making.

For example, how would someone with dyslexia consume your content? Or how would someone with a broken arm interact on a mobile device?

Accessibility is also part of the law; if your service isn’t accessible to everyone who needs it, you may be breaking the 2010 Equality Act.

Updated: January 2019