Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Strategy and policies
  3. Policies and statements
  4. The Open University website accessibility statement

The Open University website accessibility statement

This statement covers all our websites that have been created or substantially changed since 23 September 2018. You may find specific statements on individual pages, where more detail is helpful. We are currently assessing our older sites, and these will be included in this statement from 23 September 2020. Apps for mobile devices will be included from 23 June 2021.

The Open University’s web presence consists of several million individual pages across numerous ‘websites’. This accessibility statement describes the principles used to create our websites. We want as many people as possible to be able to use our websites, and accessibility is an essential part of our mission.

Advice on accessing our content

To adapt the content to your needs or preferences you can:

  • change the colours, contrasts levels and font style
  • resize text to 200% without impact on the functionality of the website
  • use assistive technology to:
    • list the headings, subheadings and links in the page and then jump to a location on the page
    • tab through the content; the current location will be indicated by a clear visual change and also reported by assistive technology
    • use ‘Skip to content’ links to jump over repetitive information to the main content
    • control the embedded media player to play audio and video materials.
  • 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.

Some of The Open University’s websites have additional accessibility information pages describing exceptions to the above principles. They will each link back to this page and should be read in conjunction with this general statement.

For additional accessibility information about module websites, Study Home and other websites associated with teaching and learning, students should read the Learning Systems 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 but excluding the websites covered within the Learning Systems statement, students should read the Student Support Accessibility Statement.

For other websites, where there is additional accessibility information, there will be a link to the website-specific accessibility information available from that site.

Limitations to accessibility

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

We aim to provide accessible alternative content or activities where we can, but this is not always possible for different reasons.

Providing support where our websites are not accessible

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 support option in the accessibility statements for specific websites.

If there is no specific statement, please use this 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 PI if you are a student so we can get back to you. You should expect to hear back from us within 20 working days.

Note also that the University may be able to provide some 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.

Students and those who are considering studying might also find our help pages Accessibility - using a computer for OU study useful.

Reporting accessibility problems with our websites

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 feedback facility in the accessibility statements for specific web pages. If there is no specific statement, please use this feedback form. 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 20 working days.

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. If you are not happy with our response and all our procedures have been exhausted, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations and you can take up your complaint about the accessibility of this site with the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

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.

Contacting us

If you wish to contact us about anything not covered above, please visit our contact page.

Technical information about the accessibility of this website

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.

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

Issues with technology

Current web technology is not capable of ensuring the accessibility of specialised notations (e.g. mathematics, chemistry, physics, music, phonetics etc). We are monitoring developments in these areas and will improve our services as the technology matures.

Some online activities cannot be made fully accessible (e.g. categorising an image). Wherever practical, an alternative activity will be provided.

The level of accessibility during live events is limited. We are working closely with third-party suppliers and improving our internal systems to improve accessibility during live events.

The Open University provides links to external websites that may not meet accessibility standards.

Issues with PDFs and other documents

Some of the content on our websites was created to earlier WCAG standards (e.g. WCAG 2.0).

Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish after September 2018 will meet WCAG 2.1 standards.

Many of our older PDFs and Word documents don’t meet current accessibility standards because they may not provide the information required by assistive technology. However, they may have met previous standards. We plan to have essential documents available in an accessible format by September 2020.

Some third-party documents are not 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.

How we tested this website

The Open University’s web presence consists of several million individual pages across numerous ‘websites’. We have a rolling programme of accessibility audit testing across our websites. Typically, samples of pages are chosen to be representative of different types of content across our websites with an emphasis placed on those pages with large numbers of users. To undertake the audits, we use a combination of automated and manual testing methods.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

As we build new websites, we strive to ensure that they are accessible and comply with the current legislation. We also review and audit older sites to identify what changes we need to make to improve accessibility. We have a set of internal Accessibility Standards for developers and content creators that tracks legislative changes and is reviewed on an annual basis. The Open University website development process has stages that test the usability and accessibility of new and updated platforms, activities and services.

Open University websites that have additional accessibility information pages describing any exceptions to this statement will provide additional information about how those sites are improving accessibility.

This statement was published on 20 September 2019. It was last updated on 19 September 2019.