A plug-in is an extra program which can be installed alongside a user's web browser. A plug-in application is recognised by the browser and is used to display information in a particular way. Plug-ins require the user to download and install specialist software, or to install it from a CD. To some users this is impractical, to others impossible and to others undesirable.
Core information must not be provided solely as a plug-in. All information contained in sections requiring plug-ins must also be available in HTML. For example if speech is provided using RealAudio then a transcript must be provided in standard HTML. Where plug-ins are needed, the more commonly used technologies must be used.
Plug-ins standard list
Flash (Flash animation is not permitted for 'decoration' purposes and can only be used if adding value to information.)
Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF)
Some advanced functionality or 'feature rich experience' can only be offered by using plug-ins. Where this is the case, it must be obvious to the visitor that by following the link a particular plug-in (and version) is required. A clear alternative to obtaining any information or service offered through the use of a plug-in must also be made clearly available at the same time.
Where a plug-in is required a hyperlink to download it must be provided by using the corporate standard plug-ins page.
Influences on this standard
Guidelines for UK Government websites
Central Office Information guidelines - Delivering inclusive websites
"The presentation of lengthy non-HTML documents on the Web should generally be avoided in favour of web pages"
"The portable document format (PDF) can be accessible if authors follow established best practices to include appropriate structure and equivalents for users with disabilities".
Disability Discrimination Act
"The Disability Discrimination Act requires public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people"
Access for all
"In Hampshire we have many residents with different needs so we need to be able to communicate with all members of the public"
W3C WAI Guideline 1
"Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element...this includes images, graphical representations of text, stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video and video"