UKOLN AHDS ESDS Web Standards Policy


esds The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) [1] is a national data archiving and dissemination service which came into operation in January 2003.

The ESDS service is a jointly-funded initiative sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [2] and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) [3].

Problem Being Addressed

Many Web sites fail to comply with accessibility and usability guidelines or consist of valid code. Prior to setting up the ESDS Web site it was decided that a Web Standards Policy would be agreed upon and adhered to.

The Approach Taken

The ESDS Web Standards Policy was released in June 2003 and applies to all newly constructed ESDS Web pages.

ESDS Web Standards Policy

ESDS is committed to following agreed best standards and good practice in Web design and usability. The underlying code of the ESDS Web site achieves compliance with W3C guidelines for XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets. It strives to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and be Special Educational Needs Disability Act (SENDA) compliant. Where this is not feasible or practical, e.g., proprietary software programs such as Nesstar Light, we will provide an alternative method for users to obtain the assistance they need from our user support staff. JISC and UKOLN recommendations have been reviewed for this policy.

1 XHTML and Accessibility Standards

Standards Validation and Auditing Tools
XHTML 1.0 Transitional
W3C XHTML validation service
CSS Level 2 W3C's CSS validation service
WCAG 1.0
Conformance Level: all Priority 1 checkpoints, most Priority 2 checkpoints, and some Priority 3 checkpoints.

For more detailed information about accessibility standards and how best to implement them see:

Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 - Conformance:
WDG HTML Validator:

2 Non-HTML Formats

HTML is the recommended format for small documents and Web pages.

ESDS also provides access to significant amounts of lengthy documentation to users as part of its service. For these lengthier, more complex documents, we generally follow these JISC recommendations.

If a link leads to a non-HTML file, e.g., a zip or Adobe PDF file, this will be clearly indicated.

Portable Document Format (PDF)
For documents provided in PDF, a link to the Adobe free viewer will be made available.

Rich Text Format (RTF)
All leading word processing software packages include a standard facility for reading RTF and some documents may therefore be made available in this format.

3 Link Checking

The ESDS is committed to keeping the links on its pages as accurate as possible.

ESDS Web pages are checked using Xenu Link Sleuth [4] or an equivalent checker, on a monthly basis.

ESDS catalogue records are checked using Xenu Link Sleuth or an equivalent checker on a monthly basis.

ESDS Web page links are manually checked every six months to verify that the content of the pages to which they link is still appropriate.

4 Browser Compatibility

New templates and all pages are checked for use with these standard browsers:

5 Software/Hardware Platforms

We test our pages on PCs using Microsoft Windows operating systems. We do not have the equipment to test on an Apple Macintosh platform and rely on the standards we use to assure accessibility.



  1. MIMAS
  2. ESRC
  3. JISC
  4. Xenu's Link Sleuth

Contact details

Diane Geraci and Sharon Jack
Economic and Social Data Service
UK Data Archive
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park

QA Focus Comments

For QA Focus use.