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Accessibility Statement for Virtual Oceans VR

This accessibility statement applies to the android and iOS versions of the Virtual Oceans VR mobile application.

How accessible this app is 

We strive to exceed current accessibility standards. However, due to the new and experimental nature of virtual reality, the unique issues that using a headset brings, and the lack of existing VR accessibility standards to test against, it can be difficult to know if we have covered every possible issue that may arise. As such users – both those who consider themselves disabled and those who do not - may encounter unforeseen barriers to use of the app.  These may include issues of motion sickness, physical problems wearing the headset on their head, and problems viewing, hearing, and interacting with the content.

All learning within the app is provided in full in the accessible module materials. Virtual Oceans is an entirely optional experience alongside the module materials.

Feedback and contact information

If you find that a certain section of our app 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.

Students can contact their Student Support Team for ongoing advice and guidance.

Reporting accessibility problems with this app

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our apps. 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 Mobile App name, details of the screen 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.

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 and apps, 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.

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.

Technical information about this app’s accessibility 

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

Compliance Status

This app is not compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard. The non-compliances are listed below.

Disproportionate burden 

This app is highly dependent on the user interacting with a virtual environment that simulates the real world. It is not possible to create an accessible version of the experience using current virtual reality technology. The app depends on the sights and sounds of the real world for which there is no technical substitute in virtual reality that would meet the objectives of the app. The app is designed to be entirely optional and act as an add-on to the existing accessible learning content. It does not negatively impact the learner if they are unable to use it.

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

The app does not fall outside the scope of the accessibility regulations.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

As we build new websites and apps, we strive to ensure that they are accessible and comply with all current legislation. We also review and audit older sites and apps to identify what changes we need to make to improve accessibility. At the time of writing there is very little information on VR accessibility available. Part of this app’s purpose was to establish what accessibility problems might arise from VR so that we could solve them in the future. As VR grows in maturity, we will continue to adopt accessibility best practice either by aligning with recognised standards, aligning with guidelines from third parties, or by continuing to produce and evaluate our own Open University guidelines in their absence.

The Open University website and apps development process has stages that test the usability and accessibility of new and updated platforms, activities and services against WCAG 2.1. As well as working with external consultants, an internal Accessibility and Usability Evaluation team helps to offer guidance in this area and to ensure that accessibility and usability are embedded in the design and development process for developers and content creators. 

These activities ensure that we are meeting and responding to the changing digital requirements of our students and users as well as developing and delivering systems, apps and websites which are as accessible and usable as possible.

The Open University is committed to accessibility and demonstrates this in a number of different ways:

The Securing Greater Accessibility team (SeGA) was set up in 2010 as a university-wide initiative to promote accessibility and inclusive practice and support students and staff. SeGA offers training and guidance in accessibility in teaching and learning and oversees forums and activities for a wider community of practice and research. SeGA also runs a network of over 50 accessibility champions and coordinators, who work as points of contact on accessibility queries within their respective academic areas. 

Staff at The Open University are offered on-demand accessibility training in a variety of topics to support them to carry out their roles. This will be complemented in the future by the introduction of bespoke, mandatory training in accessibility for all staff to complete in order to further embed accessibility good practice. 

The Open University Library provides wide-ranging support to students with disabilities and specific requirements. As well as working with students directly to offer guidance in accessible resources, the Open University Library staff work with publishers to help improve the accessibility of their products.

The Open University aims to make studying as accessible as possible and a range of adjustments and support are available. A well-established disability support team provides guidance for students and arranges for students to have support when accessing digital content online or alternatively, access to a variety of formats. A wealth of resources for information and guidance in enabling students to study as effectively as possible in the digital environment are available via the help centre. 

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 25 May 2021. It was last reviewed on 25 May 2021.

This app was last tested on 25 May 2021. The test was carried out by Jamie Daniels, LDS Learning Innovation Team, Open University.

The VR simulation is not page-based. Its compliance was evaluated as a whole against WCAG 2.1.

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