Accessibility statement for webchat and digital assistant service

This accessibility statement explains how accessible this service is, what to do if you have difficulty using it, and how to report accessibility problems with the service.

This service is part of the wider GOV.UK website. There is a separate accessibility statement for the main GOV.UK website.

This page only contains information about the webchat and digital assistant service, available at https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/ask-hmrc.

Using this service

The Ask HMRC webchat and digital assistant are services that enable you to communicate with an HMRC adviser or digital assistant over the internet. Both services are built by Nuance, a provider of customer engagement software.

This service is run by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). We want as many people as possible to be able to use this service. This means you should be able to:

  • change colours, contrast levels and fonts
  • zoom in up to 300% without the text spilling off the screen
  • get from the start of the service to the end using just a keyboard
  • get from the start of the service to the end using speech recognition software
  • listen to the service using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)

We have also made the text in the service as simple as possible to understand.

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

How accessible this service is

This service is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard.

Some people may find parts of this service difficult to use:

  • Mobile users using screen readers may find it difficult to navigate or interact with the chat window or the other content on the launch page
  • There is styling on the ‘Support for coronavirus’ digital assistant page that may make interaction difficult for users who use style overlays to make pages more readable
  • Some answers in the digital assistant that have links have ‘(opens in a new tab)’ after each link, whereas others have ‘Links will open in a new tab’ once at the start of the answer. This could be frustrating for users with assistive technologies as link behaviour may not be clear or consistent
  • Users using the JAWS screen reader may experience confusing changes in focus when being given multiple answers
  • Users using VoiceOver on iPhone and Mac and users using NVDA may experience confusing changes in focus when interacting with answers, links and new tabs
  • Users using Chrome on Android are unable to use pinch and zoom gestures once the chat window has launched
  • The button icon used to turn alerts on and off does not look different enough in its on or off state, or different enough from the print icon. It also behaves differently to the print icon. Additionally, users with assistive technologies may find it difficult to interact with the button
  • Users on smaller screens may see a menu link that does not give any interactive options
  • Some users may find it difficult to locate this accessibility statement from the footer of the service
  • On some pages, when you use keyboard tabbing to focus on a link, the colour and underline that surround the link are not bold or contrasted enough. This may make it difficult for visually impaired users to see what they’re focusing on
  • The ‘Ask HMRC’ title on the chat window lacks useful labelling for screen readers
  • Keyboard-only users may find it time-consuming to navigate back to the ‘print’, ‘close’ and ‘hide’ chat options when at the end of a chat conversation
  • Some buttons have been incorrectly labelled as banners which may make them confusing to interact with
  • If you set the font size to 200%, the text in the chat window overflows or cuts off which may make the service difficult to use for people with visual impairment
  • The ability to minimise and maximise the chat window is not announced by some screen readers, which may make interacting with the service difficult
  • When minimising the chat window, the minimised window may not be visible to some users, making it difficult to continue using the chat service
  • Some screen readers may announce the chat window content a second time after the ‘send’ button, which may make the service confusing
  • Users using VoiceOver on iPhone may not have new content announced to them when they click or type a response, which makes interacting with the service difficult
  • The icons for ‘minimise’, ‘close’, ‘print’ and ‘alert’ are lacking clear labels that would make interacting with them easier for people using voice controls
  • Some users may see a version of the chat window that has a loading animation. The animation lacks an alt tag which helps screen readers describe the animation
  • Some users may see a version of the end of chat survey that has radio buttons which may not function correctly when the user clicks them
  • Some users may see a version of the chat window that has incorrect labelling for the sound alerts button. Users with screen readers may be confused about the function of the button

What to do if you have difficulty using this service

You can contact HMRC for extra support if you need help with filling in forms or getting a different format, like large print, audio recording or Braille.

Reporting accessibility problems with this service

We are always looking to improve the accessibility of this service. If you find any problems that are not listed on this page or think we are not meeting accessibility requirements, report the accessibility problem.

If you are not happy with our response

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the 'accessibility regulations'). If you are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) or the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) if you live in Northern Ireland.

Contacting us by phone or getting a visit from us in person

We provide a text relay service if you are deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech impediment.

We can provide a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, or you can arrange a visit from an HMRC advisor to help you complete the service.

Find out how to get extra support from HMRC .

Technical information about this service’s accessibility

HMRC is committed to making this service accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

This service is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Non‐accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non‐compliance with the accessibility regulations

Mobile users using screen readers may find it difficult to navigate or interact with the chat window or the other content on the launch page. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

There is styling on the ‘Support for coronavirus’ digital assistant page that may make interaction difficult for users who use style overlays to make pages more readable. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some answers in the digital assistant that have links have ‘(opens in a new tab)’ after each link, whereas others have ‘Links will open in a new tab’ once at the start of the answer. This could be frustrating for users with assistive technologies as link behaviour may not be clear or consistent. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.2 (On Input). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Users using the JAWS screen reader may experience confusing changes in focus when being given multiple answers. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.3 (Focus Order) and 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Users using VoiceOver on iPhone and Mac and users using NVDA may experience confusing changes in focus when interacting with answers, links and new tabs. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.5 (Change on Request). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Users using Chrome on Android are unable to use pinch and zoom gestures once the chat window has launched. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.4 (Resize Text) and 1.4.10 (Reflow). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

The button icon used to turn alerts on and off does not look different enough in its on or off state, or different enough from the print icon. It also behaves differently to the print icon. Additionally, users with assistive technologies may find it difficult to interact with the button. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Users on smaller screens may see a menu link that does not give any interactive options. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) and 4.1.2 (Name Role, Value) and 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context)). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some users may find it difficult to locate this accessibility statement from the footer of this service. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

On some pages, when you use keyboard tabbing to focus on a link, the colour and underline that surround the link are not bold or contrasted enough. This may make it difficult for visually impaired users to see what they’re focusing on. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.11 (Non-text Contrast). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

The ‘Ask HMRC’ title on the chat window lacks useful labelling for screen readers. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 4.2.6 (Headings) and 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Keyboard-only users may find it time-consuming to navigate back to the ‘print’, ‘close’ and ‘hide’ chat options when at the end of a chat conversation. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.1 (By-pass Blocks) and 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some buttons have been incorrectly labelled as banners which may make them confusing to interact with. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

If you set the font size to 200%, the text in the chat window overflows or cuts off which may make the service difficult to use for people with visual impairment. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.4 (Resize Text). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

The ability to minimise and maximise the chat window is not announced by some screen readers, which may make interacting with the service difficult. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

When minimising the chat window, the minimised window may not be visible to some users, making it difficult to continue using the chat service. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.10 (Reflow). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some screen readers may announce the chat window content a second time after the ‘send’ button, which may make the service confusing. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships) and 1.3.2 (Meaningful Sequence). This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Users using VoiceOver on iPhone may not have new content announced to them when they click or type a response, which makes interacting with the service difficult. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.3 (Status) This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

The icons for ‘minimise’, ‘close’, ‘print’ and ‘alert’ are lacking clear labels that would make interacting with them easier for people using voice controls. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.5.3 (Label in Name) This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some users may see a version of the chat window that has a loading animation. The animation lacks an alt tag which helps screen readers describe the animation. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (Non-text Content) This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some users may see a version of the end of chat survey that has radio buttons which may not function correctly when the user clicks them. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation) This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

Some users may see a version of the chat window that has incorrect labelling for the sound alerts button. Users with screen readers may be confused about the function of the button. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing) This will be fixed by 31 July 2021.

How we tested this service

The service was last tested on 20 September 2020 and was checked for compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA.

The service was built using parts that were tested by the Digital Accessibility Centre. The full service was tested by HMRC and included disabled users.

This page was prepared on 6 July 2020. It was last updated on 31 March 2021.

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