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 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.
  • Some users may find it difficult to locate this accessibility statement from the footer of this service.
  • The ‘Ask HMRC’ title on the chat window lacks useful labelling for screen readers.
  • The icons for ‘turn on alerts’ and ‘increase chat window size’ do not have labels that would make interaction easier for people using voice controls.
  • 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.
  • For end of chat surveys on NVDA no message or focus is read out after clicking submit. On voiceover for iPad/iOS some user focus is taken to the "Is this page not working properly (opens in a new tab)” link below the CUI frame. On Macbook voiceover, the focus stays on the ‘submit’ button the user clicked to submit the survey.
  • The ‘textarea’ for users to send messages has placeholder text but there is no constant visual label so that when the placeholder text is removed, users may not know the purpose of the form field.
  • When a screen reader user moves to the chat box, this is not announced.
  • When a user selects the ‘end chat’ button, a pop up appears asking the user if they want to end or return to the chat. A user’s focus is directed into the pop up but it does not stay inside it. This can cause confusion for keyboard only users and screen reader users.
  • The ‘Ask HMRC online’ text and the ‘chat ended’ text have both been marked up as heading 1. This can cause confusion for screen reader users.
  • The text ‘help improve our digital assistant’ heading is not set up correctly so that screen reader users do not know that it is a heading.
  • Users who rely on text spacing or magnification options when navigating a page may not be able to easily access or discern the purpose of the ‘end chat’ button and the ‘is this page not working properly? (opens in a new tab)’ link, as they overlap.
  • The chat messages sent by the user and the computer/adviser, have been set up as level 2 headings for a user and level 3 headings for the response. All the headings have been marked up as ‘you said’ and ‘automated message’ respectively. This means that each of the headings have been duplicated which will make it difficult for screen reader users to navigate the page out of context.
  • The ‘no thanks’ button associated with the ‘help improve our digital assistant’ is not clearly relatable for screen reader users as it does not let them know it is referring to the digital assistant survey.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

The icons for ‘turn on alerts’ and ‘increase chat window size’ do not have labels that would make interaction 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 October 2022.

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 October 2022.

For end of chat surveys on NVDA no message or focus is read out after clicking submit. On voiceover for iPad/iOS some user focus is taken to the "Is this page not working properly (opens in a new tab)” link below the CUI frame. On Macbook voiceover, the focus stays on the ‘submit’ button the user clicked to submit the survey. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation). This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

An input field did not present a constant visual label for users. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.3.2 Labels or Instructions. This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

An aria attribute has been used on an element which does not support it. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

Focus did not follow a logical order as it was not trapped inside a pop-up. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.3 Focus Order This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

Multiple level 1 headings were present on a page providing an unclear structure for users of screen reading assistive technologies. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

Content visually presented as a heading does not have the correct code semantics to identify it as this. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

Content did not maintain its structure when a user required text spacing or magnification options to navigate the page. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.12 Text Spacing and 1.4.10 Reflow This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

Headings were duplicated providing an unclear structure and relation for users of screen reading assistive technologies. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.6 Headings and Labels This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

A button had not been sectioned and related to any surrounding content, meaning the label and accessible name it possessed was not descriptive enough for users of screen reading assistive technologies to determine its purpose. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.6 Headings and Labels This will be fixed by 31 October 2022.

How we tested this service

The service was last tested on 13 April 2022 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 9 August 2021. It was last updated on 5 May 2022.

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