Making it easier for disabled customers
mmc.co.uk is for everybody. Using mmc.co.uk should be easy, regardless of physical and other limitations. These pages are intended to show our disabled customers and their advocates the work we do to ease their experience on our website. This includes our policy for supporting disabled users.
Helping our disabled customers
- People who browse with screen readers
- Screen magnifier users
- Customers with limited mobility
- Learning-disabled customers
Technical questions answered
Internet Explorer and friends – the browsers we support. You will need Flash and PDF plug-ins.
Leading the way in website accessibility
Our policy for making our site work for everybody
Everybody in the UK is an MMC customer, regardless of physical or other limitations. The law sets the lowest acceptable standard for how we should support our disabled customers and employees. But naturally MMC is aiming higher - we want to make use of the many advantages that doing business online can offer disabled as well as able-bodied people.
Accessibility is built into our web process
All our web pages go through the same process before they are put up on the web site for everybody to see. In this process we review web pages at three different stages and six times or more.
Some of the things we look for are:
- Is the contrast between text and background strong enough for people with low vision?
- Are the buttons large enough or would motor-impaired users have problems?
- If there is something that moves, how can people with learning disabilities turn off the distracting movement?
Asking these questions makes our pages easier to use for everybody, whether they have a disability or not. MMC is committed to making the whole of mmc.co.uk accessible.
Screen reader users
How we are supporting you
Screen readers are used by people who are blind or nearly blind. Listening to the web is a very different experience from looking at it as it becomes a stream of words. Screen reader users also don’t use a mouse to navigate, instead they use only the keyboard.
At MMC we try to smooth the way for screen reader users. This includes making sure images can be “heard” as well as making it easy to fill in our online forms. We test our pages to make sure they’re easy to use for screen reader users. If you surf the net with a screen reader and have problems using our site, please report it to us so we can do something about it.
This page describes the efforts we make to help screen reader users on mmc.co.uk.
Visual content: Images
We code text alternatives (“alt texts”) into all our images. Sighted users on Internet Explorer can put their mouse on an image to see the text alternative. If we didn’t do that, screen reader users would hear the file name of the image instead.
Visual content: Macromedia Flash
We use Macromedia Flash to showcase campaigns. We make the Flash accessible so that screen reader users can read and interact with them - just like sighted users. In addition, we make sure the same information is available in plain text.
Your screen reader will read the text in the movie and you can use the TAB key to navigate between the links. If you prefer, you can let your screen reader read a normal web page with the same information instead. There is a link to the page under the Flash movie.
You can read more technical information about Flash on the plug-ins page.
There are links to PDF documents with important information on our site. We are working to make sure that all PDFs make sense when read by a screen reader and that we have the same information available in plain text.
You can read more technical information about PDFs on the plug-ins page.
In the popular screen reader Jaws a single keystroke will bring up a list of all links on a page. Skilled screen reader users use this feature a lot. That is why we make sure that the text we use for our links doesn’t just say “click here” but details where the link leads to, e.g. Campaign planning or Database cleaning services.
Pop-ups and new windows
Pop-ups and new windows can be very disorientating when you listen to a page. But sometimes they are helpful because you can quickly read something, close the window, and know that you are still on the same page. One example of this is in our online shop. When you enter your credit card details, there is a link to a pop-up that explains what a credit card security number is.
We try to only use pop-ups and new windows under very specific circumstances and to let you know that a link will launch in a new window before you click on it.
Sometimes information is easier to understand when it’s in a table. For tables we always mark up the structure so that your screen reader can tell the headings from the normal table cells and tell you which headers belong to a specific cell. Sighted people will notice that the headers have grey backgrounds. In the code each header is associated with the column under it.
mmc.co.uk uses CSS for layout.
Online forms mean more independence for people with vision impairments. Online forms are easy to fill in for people who use a screen reader. Paper forms on the other hand often mean relying on a person with better vision for help. So, the more services we can make available online, the more we support our disabled customers’ independence.
Programming forms that are easy to fill out for screen reader users is straightforward. We just make sure that:
- the structure of the form with fields and labels is marked up
- you can use the TAB key to reach all fields and buttons
- the ENTER key sends off the form
- any error messages are before the field that has a problem.
These simple measures also help people with other disabilities or no disability at all.
Screen magnifier usability
The web through a magnifying lens
Screen magnifier users see the web through a magnifying lens. If they are magnifying the screen eight times, they will only see 1/8 of the screen at a time. This can be very disorientating and important parts of a page can easily be missed. Most screen magnifiers can also read individual words out loud.
If you use a screen magnifier to browse mmc.co.uk and come across a problem, please let us know about it.
Because of the magnification, a screen magnifier only shows a small portion of the page. To make sure screen magnifier users don’t miss important parts of a form, at mmc.co.uk all forms are laid out in a single column. It should be enough to scroll down to fill in the whole form, not sideways.
Screen magnifier users can usually use a mouse but using the keyboard is often easier for them. So we make sure that forms can be filled in and sent off with just the keyboard. Use the TAB key to move from field to field and ENTER to send off the form.
It’s also important that when a screen magnifier clicks on a link, the result shows in the small window that they see right then. This is another reason for keeping pop-ups to a minimum because we can never tell if they will be within the screen magnifier’s current view.
Finally, link texts must make sense even if the user hasn’t read all the text around it. “Terms and conditions” is better than “click here”.
To make it easier to read text on our pages, you can use your browser to increase the text size. Our pages are tested with the text size increased up to two notches.
Increasing text size in Internet Explorer
- At the top of the browser, click on View to see the menu.
- About halfway down, click on Text size.
- Large or Largest will make the text bigger.
Increasing text size in Firefox
- At the top of the browser, click on View to see the menu.
- About halfway down, click on Text size.
- Click on Increase once or twice to make the text bigger.
Increasing text size in Safari on the Macintosh
On Safari, hold the Apple key and click on the + sign at the same time.
Images with text, e.g. buttons, can be particularly tough for screen magnifier users because when they are magnified, they often become hard to read. We use large text or text that isn’t anti-aliased to make up for that. If the image still can’t be read, we make sure all our images have an “alt text”. Most screen magnifiers can read the alt text out loud.
For people with limited vision, contrast is often very important. The more contrast there is between text and background, the easier it is to read. Black with white gives the best contrast. Buttons and graphic headings are tested to make sure they follow best practice for colour and brightness contrast.
mmc.co.uk for motor impaired people
Mobility shouldn't matter
Motor impairments include many different disabilities. Causes of motor-impairments include repetitive stress syndrome, arthritis and motorcycle accidents resulting in spinal injuries. Some people are able to move their hands and feet but have limited control over where they end up. People with cerebral palsy belong to this category. Others can move but have little strength and the movement hurts. Arthritis sufferers are included in this group.
People who have difficulty moving their hands and arms often cannot use a mouse to point on the screen. Some use highly specialised assistive devices, e.g. a tube they can blow into or suck air out of. Others use speech to control their PC.
If you are motor-impaired and are having a hard time with mmc.co.uk pages, please let us know.
To help users who do use a mouse, we make sure that buttons and links are large enough to be easy to hit. We never make links move or limit the time our customers have to hit a button.
For those who only use the keyboard to navigate, we make sure that all forms can be filled in and sent off that way. Usually this will also make the form usable for people with assistive devices.
Making mmc.co.uk easier to use for all
People with learning disabilities may have enough problems with reading a website, that any distraction can make it impossible to understand it. When different parts of the page aren’t clearly separated, that can also cause problems. If you have a learning disability and find certain pages extra hard to understand, please let us know.
Moving images on web pages can be distracting for anybody but for users with learning disabilities they can affect the ability to focus. For that reason we only show animated images in the main content of the page.
Another distraction that can pose a problem for people with learning disabilities is pop-ups. They can break the train of thought and make it impossible to get back to the original task. It can also be hard to understand where a pop-up begins and the rest of the site ends. These are just some of the reasons why we restrict the use of pop-ups on our site and why we always warn before opening a new window.
For dyslexics, complicated language is hard to understand. In addition, studies show that everybody benefits from clearer, simpler language. It’s faster to read and there are fewer misunderstandings.
It is part of the MMC brand guidelines to write simply and clearly. But when you write about things you have worked with for years it is easy to overestimate how much others know. We try to be vigilant but jargon and technical language has a way of creeping in.
When every sentence is an effort, it’s important that we keep our texts concise. Particularly headings and link texts should always make sense out of context. That makes mmc.co.uk easier to understand for everybody.
Internet Explorer, Firefox and friends
Which browser is right for you?
MMC decided early on that we were only going to support 95%-97% of the browsers commonly used in the UK. We have limited funds and feel that they’re better spent on making the site accessible for disabled users on mainstream browsers. After all, a blind person cannot choose to become seeing but a person who is using an unusual browser can switch.
The list of browsers we support is reviewed at least every six months. To help us make decisions, we monitor our own site as well as general trends in the UK.
Currently supported browsers
- Platform browser
- Windows Internet Explorer 7.0 (baseline browser)
- Windows Internet Explorer 6.0
- Windows Firefox3.0
- Macintosh OSX Safari 3.0
If you are using a supported browser and can’t get it to work with a specific page, please tell us so we can fix it.
Flash and PDF
Two browser plug-ins are enough
Only two browser plug-ins are required to view the MMC site: Flash for multimedia content and Acrobat for PDF documents.
We have purposely limited the plug-ins so that we can make the content for them as accessible and usable as possible for all users.
We use Flash primarily to showcase campaigns. According to legal praxis in the UK, all information conveyed in Flash also has to be available on regular web pages. We have used Flash but its use has been limited to one area of the site.
Adobe have been working very hard to ensure that recent versions of Flash are accessible. Nowadays objects in Flash can be given text alternatives, just like alt texts, for images on regular web pages. It has also become easier to mark up the reading order so that movies make sense to screen readers.
Finally objects that don’t add to the experience can be made silent so that they don’t distract. All these improvements benefit disabled customers, particularly screen reader users.
Flash plug-in download
Newer versions of the Flash player allow you to take full advantage of all Flash accessibility features. If you are disabled, we particularly encourage you to upgrade to the latest version. Anything older than version 7 will not give you the full experience.
Download the latest Flash player from Adobe
Adobe Acrobat PDF
The MMC site contains a large number of links to PDFs readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Unlike Flash, creating PDF documents is very easy. Once a document has been created, it can seem like a good idea to put it up on the web, even if it was created for print. But print PDFs don’t have any of the accessibility features that PDFs created specifically for the web should have.
According to UK legal praxis, all information in PDFs also has to be available in normal web pages.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download Foxit Reader (Windows only)
If you have the latest versions of the plug-in and our Flash or PDF doesn’t make sense, please tell us about the problem.
Give us your accessibility feedback
Close the loop
We want to hear from our disabled users and their advocates about good and bad experiences on mmc.co.uk. If you are reporting a problem, you may first want to read about the technical and accessibility issues we’re already aware of.
What happens when you’ve sent off your feedback?
Real people will read your feedback. If you have a problem that’s straightforward to fix, we’ll send it to our bug fixing team. If it’s harder to solve, we’ll enter it into the accessibility issues list. It’s a spreadsheet we use when prioritising future projects and accessibility upgrades.
We may send you follow-up questions but we cannot promise to respond individually to all feedback. We will need the following information:
- Email address
- Area of the site
- Technical details, such as, Internet Explorer, Windows XP and Jaws screen reader
- Your individual feedback
Your name and email will only be used to send you follow-up questions. You will not be entered into our customer database. We will not sell your email address, nor will we send you emails that do not relate to disability access on mmc.co.uk.