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Following judging in a quarterly national audit, North Devon Council's website has claimed the top spot as best local authority website for accessibility in the country.

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that a wide range of people with disabilities can use them, encompassing all disabilities that can affect access to the web.

The audit is carried out by independent specialists Sitemorse and is known as the Sitemorse 'INDEX'. The INDEX runs every quarter, assessing the websites of over 400 UK Local Government organisations following over 280 million tests, checks and measures across over 860,000 URLs and giving them a score and rank. 

Leader of North Devon Council, Cllr David Worden, says: "Our website is a crucial tool for us to provide our services in a way that meets our customers needs. It is very important to us that our services are fully inclusive and can be used by everyone. We have a dedicated webmaster who puts accessibility at the forefront of everything on our website and I am delighted that all his hard work has been reflected in this audit."

Rob Andrews, Group Commercial Director for Sitemorse, says: "Congratulations to North Devon for topping the Sitemorse Local Government INDEX. The internet is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life and it is essential for websites be accessible in order to provide equal access and opportunity to people with diverse abilities. It is clear that North Devon Council really care about social inclusion and online visitor experience; they are leading the way for other Local Government organisations to follow."

The concept of accessibility does not just apply to disabled people - all users will have different needs at different times and in different circumstances. Someone’s ability to use a service could be affected by their:

  • location - they could be in a noisy café, sunny park or area with slow Wi-Fi
  • health - they may be tired, recovering from a stroke or have a broken arm
  • equipment - they could be on a mobile phone or using an older browser

The accessibility regulations came into force on 23 September 2018 and state that public sector websites must be more accessible by making them ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’.

One of the council's priorities is to continue to provide better services for customers and the website remains continually under review with improvements being made all the time.