Historical PDF conversion
The accessibility regulations don’t require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.
Our site contains many PDFs created in previous years.
Where these are no longer being updated and are not essential to patient care, we do not intend to recreate them in accessible versions as this would be a disproportionate burden.
This assessment relates to PDF documents published after September 2018 that are not essential to providing our services. These include, but may not be limited to, approved and published documents such as our public board papers, quality accounts, prior annual reports and accounts, and previously published strategy and performance reports.
We are making incremental improvements to the accessibility of any new versions of these documents by adapting templates and ensuring that automated accessibility checks are run and fixes are applied in Word, Excel and PowerPoint before documents are made into PDF. However, we cannot guarantee full accessibility of board papers and annual accounts at this time. This is in part due to the format of financial data and performance reports.
We are fully committed to making all documentation needed for patient care fully accessible, as HTML web pages and accessible documents, and there is already a process in place for these.
We have prioritised the documents which get the highest use and are essential to providing patient care, and most of the information on our site is fully accessible already.
The benefits of making these PDFs into accessible HTML formats would be:
- Historical materials would be fully accessible to all users
- Historical materials would be more easily searchable and indexable
Our assessment of the burden of making these PDFs into accessible HTML formats is that:
- there are hundreds of historical public documents created by UHSussex and our legacy Trusts.
- each document would require several hours of work to be recreated in a fully accessible version (estimated based on extensive experience of converting the active documents at between 2 and 30 hours per document, depending on length and complexity, plus any required sign-off)
- many of the documents are officially published (e.g., Annual reports) and publishing a new version requires detailed checking, a formal sign-off process, and submitting a new official version.
- many of the documents contain complex elements which are difficult to retrospectively convert, such as detailed tables, graphs, and diagrams.
Also relevant to this decision are that:
- Our focus is on ensuring that new documents are accessible where they’re required for essential services or specifically address the needs of, or are meant for our patients and service users
- Interest in these documents is low – few people access them
- UHSussex was formed by merger in April 2021, many documents we are still required to publish relate to our legacy organisations
- The documents do meet accessibility requirements for a large number of users, although some groups will find them disproportionately difficult
- Of the documents that may represent a disproportionate burden, requests for additionally accessible versions are rare despite advertising help to access
- We have and will always assist with accessible versions on request
Where documents are no longer in active use, or no longer being updated, there is a high cost in terms of employee hours to convert. Many of these documents are part of the public record, but may no longer represent the current position, and interest is limited. We always respond to requests for our publications in different formats on a case-by-case basis, so accessible versions can be created on demand.
We consider that the costs of converting older documents where there is little evidence of demand would be a poor use of limited staff time and would represent a disproportionate burden on the organisation in terms of cost.