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Student Support Accessibility Statement

  1. How accessible this website is
  2. Feedback and contact information
  3. Reporting accessibility problems with Student Support websites
  4. Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person
  5. Enforcement procedure
  6. Technical information about Student Support websites’ accessibility
  7. Compliance Status
  8. Non accessible content
  9. Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations
  10. Disproportionate burden
  11. Content that's not within the scope of the accessibility regulations
  12. What we’re doing to improve accessibility
  13. Preparation of this accessibility statement

This accessibility statement applies to Open University Student Support websites and describes the process by which we ensure that the sites are accessible. Our Student Support websites, accessed via www.open.ac.uk/students, provide information about your student record as well as providing a source of help to support you through your studies as an Open University student. Note that your module and qualification study sites, as well as those that provide information on the range of modules and qualifications available are separate, although there are links to these from our Student Support sites. If you are not a student, you will not be able to see all pages, e.g. those relating to student records.

Our Student Support websites consist of several thousand individual pages. This statement covers all elements of the Open University’s Student Support websites, which have been tested for accessibility.

Note that mobile applications were included from 23 June 2021.

If you are concerned about accessibility of other Open University websites please visit the overall Open University accessibility statement.

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 in most cases you should be able to:

  • Change colours, contrasts 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, or the need to scroll in more than one direction.
  • 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 provides advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

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How accessible this website is

We strive to exceed current accessibility standards. However, we know some elements of our Student Support websites are not accessible, the details of which are highlighted in this statement.

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.

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Feedback and contact information

If you find that a certain section of any Student Support website is not accessible and you can’t get access to the information that you need, please use the accessibility support and feedback form and we will ensure that you are provided with the information you require. You will need to provide your contact details, and if you are a student, your Personal Identifier (PI) so that we can get back to you. You should expect to hear back from us within five working days if you have provided contact details.

Students who have any other queries, not related to website accessibility, should contact their student support team who will provide you with the information you require. If you are not a student, see our general contact information page or telephone +44 (0)300 303 5303.

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 registered 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.

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Reporting accessibility problems with Student Support websites

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our Student Support 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 this accessible 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 five working days.

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Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person

To contact us by phone, please see the ‘Feedback and contact information’ in this statement. We do not normally support personal visits.

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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 University’s complaints and appeals procedure.

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), except if you are based in Northern Ireland where you should contact the 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.

Technical information about Student Support websites’ 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.

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Compliance Status

Student Support websites are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances and exemptions listed in this statement.

Non accessible content

The vast majority of content elements in our websites are accessible. This has been confirmed by internal testing and auditing. However, the content listed in this statement is non-accessible for following reasons.

Non compliance with the accessibility regulations

Non accessible content in StudentHome

The accessibility audit identified 14 groups of defects, all of which were rectified by the end 2020.

Non accessible content in StudentHome PDFs

There are several PDFs on StudentHome that show a student’s study record in various formats that contained a number of defects. These were fixed by May 2021.

Non accessible content in the Help Centre

We believe that the Help Centre is fully accessible. Note that there were some forms that had minor accessibility issues, and these were replaced by fully accessible versions by February 2021.

Non accessible content in Student Policy and Regulations

The accessibility audit identified four groups of defects, all of which were fixed by February 2021.

Non accessible content in Community pages

The accessibility audit identified seven groups of defects, all of which were fixed by January 2022.

Non accessible content in Credit Transfer pages

The identified accessibility issues were fixed by the end of May 2021.

Non accessible content in Widening Access and Success pages

The identified accessibility issues were fixed by end of May 2021.

Non accessible content in Residential Schools pages

The accessibility audit identified three defects, all of which had been fixed by April 2021.

Non accessible content in Exam invigilation pages

These pages are no longer required and will be replaced.

Non accessible content in Accessible Module Materials pages

The target fix date for the following identified accessibility issue is early 2022.

Compatibility

On all pages, the HTML code does not conform to the valid HTML 5 standard. This means that users who rely on assistive technology like screen readers may have difficulties when interpreting non valid HTML (WCAG 4.1.1).

Non accessible content in Change Log pages

The accessibility audit identified two defects, both of which were fixed by March 2021.

Non accessible content in Boost Your Business with OU Talent pages

The identified accessibility issues were fixed by end of May 2021.

Non accessible content in Careers Stories, News and Events

The target fix date for the following identified accessibility issues is early 2022.

Text Contrast

On the main page there is very low contrast between the foreground and the background colours for the dates related to each news item (WCAG 1.4.3). Reference CSN02.

Navigation

On the main page, there is an image with an empty link which also has no ALT tag (WCAG 2.4.4). Reference CSN01.

Compatibility

On all pages, the HTML code does not conform to the valid HTML 5 standard. This means that users who rely on assistive technology like screen readers may have difficulties when interpreting non valid HTML (WCAG 4.1.1). Reference CSN03

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Disproportionate burden

Webchat

Webchat is a feature available on a discrete number of web pages that allows students, or in some cases those who are considering becoming students, to interact with advisors via text about the subject on the page where the webchat option is available. This service is available during limited hours and only during certain times of the year at present and will vary by the subject matter of the host page.

Webchat is only ever offered as communication channel in addition to email or telephone contact. Therefore, individuals who may have difficulties using webchat will still be able to use email or telephone to access the same level of service and support. For more details see our webchat disproportionate burden exemption.

Keyboard access

Once a user is in the ‘Type a message’ text box, if they tab forwards, the link ‘Powered by Comm100’ is focused and if they tab again then the cursor disappears. The only way to get back to the ‘Type a message’ text box or links posted in the chat, is to tab backwards (Shift + Tab) which is confusing (WCAG 1.3.1). Reference W1.

The link ‘Powered by Comm100’ link opens a marketing website in a new window (without any warning for keyboard users). This action takes the user away from the chat discussion and makes it difficult for them to return to the chat interface using the keyboard (WCAG 1.3.2). Supplier added fix request to their roadmap: no date given. Reference W2.

There is no way to activate the ‘End Chat’ button by keyboard, so users remain trapped in the interface until the agent finishes the chat. It is possible to close the interface using standard browser controls (Command-Shift-W) but this prevents the user from submitting feedback or requesting a transcript (WCAG 2.1.2). Supplier added fix request to their roadmap: no date given. Reference W3.

The ‘Rating’, ‘Transcript’ and ‘Send File’ buttons are not keyboard accessible (WCAG 2.1.2). Supplier added fix request to their roadmap: no date given. Reference W4.

Once an agent finishes the chat, the user moves to the next screen to submit feedback and request an email transcript. However, there is no way to rate the chat discussion from 1-5 stars using the keyboard. The ‘Submit’ button to submit feedback and the ‘Send’ button to send the email transcript don’t have any visible focus, preventing the using from seeing these buttons and knowing they are ready to activate. Supply agrees that the submit and send button focus need a fix. Reference W5.

High contrast settings (Windows)

Using Windows high contrast settings, the post-chat ‘Rating’ feature is not working because the user cannot select stars nor change their colour to represent ratings (WCAG 2.4.7). Supplier requested more information. Reference W6.

Colour contrast

The introductory text (‘Agent has joined the chat…’) and confirmation text displayed after the chat is completed (e.g. ‘Rating submitted successfully…’ etc), doesn’t pass colour contrast requirements (WCAG 1.4.3). Supplier may be able to provide a fix. References W7 and W8.

Enlarged text setting

When text is resized by 200%, there are some problems with layout, text legibility and horizontal scrolling (WCAG 1.4.4). Supplier requested more information. Reference W9.

When text is resized by 200%, in Firefox the ‘End Chat’ and ‘Close’ buttons are truncated and the user can’t read the text. Microsoft Edge and Chrome display longer text messages as one character per line which makes them difficult to read. In Chrome, the ‘Send transcript’ popup is truncated within the chat window which requires the user to scroll horizontally to enter their email address (WCAG 1.4.4). Supplier requested more information. Reference W10.

Screen magnifier

The ‘End Chat’ and ‘Close’ buttons shown at the top right of the webchat window need to be shown next to the ‘Type a message’ text box. Users may not realise these buttons exist when using a screen magnifier, as they are relatively distant from the ‘Type a message’ text box where the user is focusing their attention (WCAG 1.3.1). Reference W11.

Screen reader

Users can’t access the ‘Rating’, ‘Transcript’, ‘Send File’ buttons using the keyboard. The ‘Rotor’ menu is used to provide shortcuts to lists of useful landmarks on a page like links, form controls, and headings. These buttons are not displayed within the VoiceOver ‘Rotor’ menu either under ‘Links’ or ‘Form Controls’ (WCAG 3.3.2). Requires further assessment by supplier. Reference W12.

The label for the ‘Type a message’ text box is the ‘Submit’ (arrow) button. This button has no descriptive text so when the user navigates to it, nothing is read aloud making it invisible to screen reader users. The ‘Type a message’ text box should have its own descriptive label and the ‘Submit’ button should be labelled appropriately (WCAG 3.3.2). Requires further assessment by supplier. Reference W13.

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

PDFs and other documents

While PDFs and other documents (e.g. those in Word or ePub format) are out of scope, you will find that most PDFs that have been updated since 2018 will be accessible. The exception is that some PDFs found in StudentHome are currently not accessible but we are working to make them so; see the StudentHome entry in the ‘Non accessible content’ section above.

Live video

Live (streamed) video is also out of scope of the accessibility regulations. However there is no live video on the Student Support websites.

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What we’re doing to improve accessibility

For existing websites that are partially compliant, we have plans to fix those areas that are not accessible. The target fix date is shown above, in the ‘Non accessible content’ section.

For more information about what we are doing to improve accessibility across all the University’s web sites please see Accessibility Statement for the Open University.

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Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 23 September 2020. It was reviewed on 23 September 2020 and updated 4 February 2021, 23 April 2021, 29 July 2021 and 4 February 2022 to update details of fixed defects and revised anticipated fix dates.

Our Student Support websites were tested between September 2019 and September 2020. The tests were carried out by Open University staff. The tests were based on a sample of pages from each site. The pages were chosen to be representative of different types of content and platform. An emphasis was placed on pages that were either used by many people or would significantly affect particular groups of users, and these pages were tested first. Testing was undertaken mainly by manual methods with some automated testing.

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Version control

This page was last updated on 4th Feb 2022.

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