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Accessibility

This accessibility statement applies to The Open University websites. You will find more specific statements, on individual sites, where more detail is helpful for that particular area. The Open University’s web presence consists of several million individual pages across numerous websites. We want as many people as possible to be able to use our websites, and accessibility is an essential part of our mission. To adapt the content to your needs or preferences you should be able to:
  • Change colours, contrast levels and fonts.
  • Resize text up to 200% without impact on the functionality of the website.
  • Zoom in up to 400% without loss of information or functionality.
  • Navigate the website using just a keyboard.
    • tab to ‘Skip to content’ links at the top of the page to jump over repetitive information to the main content.
    • tab through the content; the current location will be indicated by a clear visual change.
    • control the embedded media player to play audio and video materials.
  • Use a screen reader (e.g., JAWs, NVDA) to:
    • listen to the content of web pages and use any functionality on the page.
    • list the headings and subheadings in the page and then jump to their location on the page.
    • bring up a list of meaningful links on the page.
  • Use transcripts or closed captions with most audio and video materials.
  • Download learning materials in alternative formats (e.g., Word document, PDF, ePub, Kindle eBook).
  • If you have a print disability we provide SensusAccess to students, which is an automated service that converts files from one format to another, for example, PDF to text, audio, Word or Braille.
  • AbilityNet also provides advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.
For additional accessibility information for websites associated with teaching and learning, students should read the Learning Accessibility Statement (you will be required to sign in using an Open University student or staff account to read this statement). If any module-specific accessibility-related guidance is needed beyond the Learning Systems statement, you will find this in the Accessibility Guide on your module website. For additional accessibility information about Student Support sites (including StudentHome, the Help Centre, Student Policy and Regulations) and other sites designed to support students you should read the Student Support Accessibility Statement.. Back to top

How accessible this website is

We strive to exceed current accessibility standards. However, we know some elements of Open University websites are not fully accessible:
  • Older legacy and archived material.
  • Some third-party content not created by The Open University.
  • Sites linked from Open University pages but not run by The Open University.
  • Some activities (for example some of those involving maps, charts, graphs, online-experiments, interactive activities and features).
  • Some content with specialised notations, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and music.
  • Some content created in tutorials.
  • Older PDFs and Word documents may not be fully accessible to screen reader software.
  • The colour contrast for some text and some interface components (for example search boxes, check boxes) is not sufficient.
  • Some online forms are not set up correctly to include helpful direction for screen reader users.
We aim to provide accessible alternative content or activities where we can. For more information please visit What Support is Available and for more guidance please visit Studying on a Screen. Back to top

Feedback and contact information

If you find that a certain section of our website is not accessible and you can’t get access to the information that you need please use the Open University Accessibility Feedback Form to request support and we will ensure that you are provided with the information you require. You will need to provide your contact details and Personal Identifier if you are a student so we can get back to you. You should expect to hear back from us within 5 working days. The Open University is very experienced in meeting accessibility needs for our students. In many cases we are able to provide module and other study support materials in alternative formats for students who indicate a need for this when completing a Disability Support Form In addition, some module materials are available in different formats and can be downloaded from module websites. Students can contact their Student Support Team for advice. Back to top

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our websites. If you find a problem that isn’t already listed on this page, or you think we’re not meeting the requirements of the current accessibility regulations (Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018), please use the Open University Accessibility Feedback Form which is monitored daily. We will ask you for the web address (URL) of the page and a description of the problem. We will also ask for your name and email address so that we can contact you about your feedback. You should expect to hear back from us within 5 working days. Back to top

Enforcement procedure

If you are a student, or someone who has had contact with the University before, and have a complaint about the accessibility of our websites, you should raise a complaint via the complaints and appeals process. 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 our response and all our procedures have been exhausted, please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS). If you are based in Northern Ireland you can contact the Equalities Commission for Northern Ireland Equalities Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI). If you are neither a student, nor someone who has had contact with the University before and have a complaint about the accessibility of our website, you should go directly to the EASS. Back to top

Contacting us

If you wish to contact us about anything not covered above, please visit our Contact Page where we have a comprehensive list of services to suit your specific enquiry and requirements. Back to top

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

The Open University is committed to making its websites accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. Back to top

Compliance Status

The Open University’s websites are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances and exemptions listed below. Back to top

Non accessible content

The vast majority of content elements in our website are accessible and do not contain the problems below. This has been confirmed by internal testing and auditing. The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons. Back to top

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Some online activities cannot be made fully accessible (e.g., categorising an image). Wherever practical, an alternative activity will be provided. The Open University provides links to external websites that may not meet accessibility standards.

PDF and Word documents

Some of our older PDFs and Word documents may not provide the information required by assistive technology. Some third-party documents may not be accessible. We are liaising with suppliers to increase provision of accessible documents as part of our document selection process. Documents created for print distribution, which are now also available on OU websites, may not be fully accessible due to font sizing and layout issues. You may find this information about accessing PDFs with a screen reader useful.

Video

Videos which include visual information that is needed to understand the content must include an audio description of the visual information. Currently many videos which require audio description do not provide this making them inaccessible. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.2.5 Audio Description (Pre-recorded). Videos which include speech or other audio that is needed to understand the content must include captions. We work to ensure that all videos have captions, but a relatively small number do not currently provide them making them inaccessible. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.2.2 Captions (Pre-recorded).

Images

Some images which convey meaning do not have an informative text alternative, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.1.1 (Non-text content). Some purely decorative images (e.g., stock images) need to be marked as decorative within the code so that screen reader technology can simply ignore these images. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.1.1 (Non-text content).

Meaningful links

Some link text does not provide enough information about the destination of the link. This makes it difficult for people using a screen reader to know where the link will take them, particularly if they are reading links out of context, (e.g., in a list of links). This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.4 (Link purpose). Some images which are also links do not have alternative text that describes the destination of the link. This means that screen reader software cannot use the alternative text to present a meaningful link title to users. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.4 (Link purpose).

Language

The code to specify the language of the text on the page is missing on some pages. This code is used by screen readers to provide the correct accent and pronunciation. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 3.1.1 (Language of page).

Navigating with the keyboard

It is not possible to use keyboard controls alone (no mouse) to tab to and activate some interactive elements on the page, (e.g., some help icons). This means that it is not possible to use the elements with the keyboard alone. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.1.1 (Keyboard). Some interactive elements on the page such as the ‘Explore our examples of practice’ links do not have a clear outline to show when they are in focus. This means that someone who is using the keyboard tab key to access these elements cannot be clear when a link or other element is in focus and can be activated. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.7 (Focus Visible).

Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

The following types of content may not always be accessible, and they are not included within the scope of the accessibility regulation.

Video and audio

Wherever possible we provide transcripts for audio, and captions, audio descriptions and transcripts for video. Sometimes these alternatives are not available. Pre-recorded time-based media published before 23rd September 2020 is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Live audio and video

Adding captions to all live video streams is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

PDFs and other documents

PDFs or other documents that are not essential to providing our services are exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations. We are working to ensure that any new PDFs or other documents that we publish will meet accessibility standards.

Maps

Online maps and mapping services are exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Third party content not within OU control

Third party content that is not funded, developed by, or under the control of the OU is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 25 November 2021. This website was tested in November 2021. The tests were carried out by Open University staff on a sample of pages on this site.
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