Online Planning Register accessibility statement

Accessibility statement provided by DEF Software Limited for their online planning registers.

DEF Software Ltd supplies West Sussex County Council (WSCC) with its Online Planning Register.

DEF Software Limited is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities and difficulties using web pages. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and we are applying the relevant accessibility standards.

Measures to support accessibility

DEF Software Limited takes the following measures to ensure accessibility of our online planning registers:

  • Appoint an accessibility officer and/or ombudsperson.
  • Provide continual accessibility training for our staff.
  • Assign clear accessibility targets and responsibilities.
  • Employ formal accessibility quality assurance methods.

Conformance status

The requirements for designers and developers to improve accessibility for people with disabilities are defined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It defines three levels of conformance: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. DEF Software’s Online Planning Registers are partially compliant with WCAG 2.1 Level AA. Partially compliant means that some parts of the content do not fully conform to the accessibility standard. More information on the specifics of this is below.

Compatibility with browsers and assistive technology

DEF Software’s Online Planning Registers are designed to be compatible with most assistive technologies and all main browsers. For detailed information, please check WSCC's accessibility statement.

The Online Planning Registers may not compatible with versions of any browser that is unsupported by the browser developer.

Technical specifications

Accessibility of DEF Software’s Online Planning Registers relies on the following technologies to work with the particular combination of web browser and any assistive technologies or plugins installed on your computer:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

These technologies are relied upon for conformance with the accessibility standards used.

Limitations and alternatives

Despite our best efforts to ensure accessibility of the Online Planning Registers, there may be some limitations. Below is a description of known limitations. Please contact the authority, who will then feed this information to us, if you observe an issue not listed below.

Known limitations for the Online Planning Registers:

  1. Documents sent to the council: Images may not have text alternatives and documents may not be accessible because we do not control the accessibility of these documents. We are making sure that councils are aware that they are required to check these before they are published to the web. Please advise the council you have found an inaccessible document when that document has been published after 23 September 2018.
  2. User comment submission documents: PDFs created by the website are not yet fully accessible because we currently do not have any technology to build accessible PDF/A documents. We are looking at ways to construct accessible PDF/A documents, though no timeframe is set for completion of this project.
  3. Google Recaptcha: There are known compliance issues with the Google Recaptcha icon/popup. As this is not code that we have written and is hosted by Google we cannot make any changes to this.
  4. Imported CSS: To give the Online Planning Registers some visual conformity with the authority’s main site styling, we import CSS files from its main site. This can cause issues if CSS that is relied upon is changed.
  5. Placeholder text: Input fields that have placeholder text will not comply with the minimum text colour contrast. This is because we want the placeholder text to appear distinctly different from text that is put into the field. As yet there is no know method for making these fully accessible.

Assessment approach

DEF Software Limited evaluates the accessibility of Online Planning Registers through self-evaluation practices in line with those expected by the government.

Automated testing

DEF Software uses the following tools to automate the testing of each page:

  • SiteImprove
  • AXE

Manual testing

To check conformity with the standards that cannot be automated, we run through our sites manually. Examples of areas that are tested are below. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Lack of keyboard or mouse-only accessibility
  • Link text that is not descriptive (for example, ‘click here’ links)
  • Images not having meaningful alt text, where alt text is needed
  • Online forms not being marked up correctly, so the right control is associated with the right label
  • Assistive technologies are reading out information correctly to the user.

Authority expectations

While this content was tested by DEF Software, the expectation is that full content testing is done by the council. These expectations include, but are not limited to:

  • including this site in their accessibility audit
  • running tests against an exhaustive list of browser and assistive technology combinations
  • finding user research participants that use assistive technology.


While we welcome feedback on the accessibility of the Online Planning Registers, this feedback must go through the proper channels. As such, any feedback should be directed towards WSCC's Planning department, who will then feed any relevant changes to us.

When this statement was prepared

This statement was prepared on 20 August 2020 and updated on 18 January 2022.

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  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.