Accessibility

This site aims at being as accessible  as possible, and is continually improving to achieve this goal. A number of features are available to make visiting this site easier for all our audiences including people with disabilities.

Navigating the site using the keyboard

Available keyboard shortcuts (aka access keys)

It is possible to navigate the site without using a mouse and with a keyboard only. The following keyboard shortcuts are available:

  • Press the Tab key to select the next available link, or Shift+Tab to move back to the previous link, then Enter to navigate to that link.

The following shortcuts also exist to navigate to specific sections of the site:

  • 0: Home page
  • 1: Your Council
  • 2: Have your say
  • 3: Services
  • 4: Facilities
  • 5: Documents
  • 6: News / Events
  • 7: The Waikato
  • S: Sitemap
  • A: A-Z page
  • K: Navigates directly to the main content of the page (useful for screen readers which don't have to scan all navigation links to read the page content).

How to use Access Keys

Internet Explorer(IE), Firefox, Opera, and Safari each have their own way of using access keys. In most web browsers, the user uses the access key by pressing Alt (on PC) or Ctrl (on MAC) simultaneously with the appropriate character on the keyboard.

The following are the different ways to use the access key function combinations broken into PC or MAC, and then browser type.

PC

  • IE - press the Alt key + access key and then press the Enter key to active the action.
  • Firefox 2.0 - Alt + Shift and access key.
  • Firefox 3.0 - Alt + Shift + access key and the Enter key are required.  I finally personally tested Firefox 3.0 on Vista Basic and sometimes you need to hit Enter and other times you don’t.
  • Opera - the user presses Shift + Esc followed by the access key (without Alt ). Doing this will display the list of access keys over the current web page.

MAC

  • Firefox 2.0 - Ctrl + access key.
  • Firefox 3.0 - this has been changed so that the key combination only focuses on the link, Ctrl + access key and an Enter is required after the access key combo. I have not personally tested Firefox 3.0 as of yet.
  • Opera - Shift + Esc followed by the access key (without Alt ). Doing this will display the list of access keys over the current web page.
  • Safari - Cntl + access key.

Increasing/decreasing text size and zooming

To set text size in Internet Explorer:

  1. Press Alt+V to bring in the View menu
  2. Press X to select text size
  3. Use the up or down arrow to select the desired text size, and press Enter.

To zoom in and out in Internet Explorer:

  • Press Ctrl + to zoom in, Ctrl - to zoom out, and use the arrow keys to move around the zoomed page.

To set text size and zoom in Firefox:

  • Press Ctrl + to increase text size or Ctrl - to decrease text size
  • To zoom, press Alt+V to go to View menu, then Z to select Zoom, then use arrows to unselect "Zoom Text Only". This option is set by default, so the default behaviour for Ctrl+ and Ctrl- is to zoom text only. Unselecting this option will cause those keys to zoom the whole page in and out.
  • To reset the zoom level, press Ctrl+0.
  • Text size can also be set in the Optons menu as follows:
  1. Press Alt+T to show the Tools menu
  2. Press O for the Options menu
  3. Press Alt+S to select Text size
  4. Use up or down arrows to adjust test size, and press Enter

Browser support

The following browsers are supported:
  • Internet Explorer 6 and subsequent versions 
  • Firefox 2 and subsequent versions
  • Safari 3 and subsequent versions
  • Opera 9 and subsequent versions

Internet Explorer 6 incompatibilities

Unfortunately some pages are not compatible with version 6 (and older versions) of Internet Explorer. Those pages are:

  • the image gallery
  • the events calendar

We are trying our best to be as compatible as possible with all browsers, unfortunately, IE6 users may also experience some display problems like for example:

  • The interactive map is not showing: refreshing the page (click the reload button of the browser of press F5) should solve the problem
  • The menu on the right hand site of the page may not display separator lines or background color correctly
  • When you click on the 'back' button to navigate to the previously viewed page, the page might appear 'raw' with no graphics at all. Again, refreshing the page (F5) should fix the problem.

Older versions of Internet Explorer (5.5 and older)

This web site was not designed to support those old versions of IE, and was not tested on them. The only advice we can give to people using those versions is to update to a more recent version (see below).

How to make it work?

If you are using Internet Explorer version 6 or older, we recommend you update to Internet Explorer version 7 which is the latest officially released version from Microsoft. Another alternative is to use Firefox, which has the best support for web standards and is an excellent alternative to Internet Explorer.

We are very aware that those downloads will take some time on dialup connections (up to one hour), however, this is a one-off operation and all the other websites will benefit from it, not just this one. It does also increase security tremendously for sensitive operations on the internet like e-banking.

Screen readers and text-only browsers

This site was designed to be usable by vision impaired or blind people who may visit it using a screen reader or a text-only browser. In particular, we tried to make the navigation easy to follow with a screen reader software, and systematically put a "Skip to main content" link at the top of each page so that visitors can quickly jump to the page content without cycling through all the navigation links.

Other accessibility features

Several other features were implemented to help make the site more accessible, for example:

  • The systematic use of alternate text for pictures, describing what the picture is about
  • Meaningful link text for all links
  • Compliance to web standards like XHTML and CSS
  • Page sizes kept to a minimum so that pages load as fast as possible