Accessibility statement for Undergraduate Qualifications and Modules site
This accessibility statement applies to the Undergraduate Qualifications and Modules website accessed via www.open.ac.uk/courses.
Note: some links in this statement are only available to OU students and staff with their OU login details. These are marked as "(Internal only)".
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 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.
- If you have a print disability we provide SensusAccess (Internal only) to students, which is an automated service that converts files from one format to another, for example, PDF to text, audio, Word or Braille.
For additional accessibility for websites associated with teaching and learning, students should read the Learning Accessibility Statement (Internal only). 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.
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.
- Older PDFS and Word documents may not be fully accessible to screen reader software.
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.
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 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 5 working days.
The OU 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 (Internal only).
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.
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 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 5 working days.
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 (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.
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 website’s accessibility
The Open University is committed to making its website accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to ‘the non-compliances’ listed below.
Non accessible content
The majority of content elements in our websites 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.
Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations
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. help icons). This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.1.1 (Keyboard).
The search button for the main OU search at the top right of each page (magnifying glass) has no clear focus indicator when you tab to it with the keyboard. This means that someone who is using the keyboard tab key to access this button cannot be clear when it is in focus and can be activated. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.7 (Focus Visible). This issue will be resolved by the end of November 2022.
When content is viewed at 400% using the zoom setting in the browser, some content becomes unreadable, and it is sometimes necessary to use both horizontal and vertical scrolling to read content. This makes it difficult for people who need to enlarge text and read it in a single column. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.10 (Reflow).
On some mobile devices, it is not possible to use the pinch zoom gesture to enlarge content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.4 (Resize Text).
Some link text does not provide clear 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).
Web pages need titles that clearly describe the topic or purpose of the page. Some page titles need to be improved to make the topic or purpose clearer. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.2 (Page titled).
The code to specify the language of the text on the page is missing or invalid 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). This issue will be resolved by the end of November 2022.
Some text does not provide enough contrast with the background, making it more difficult to read. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.3 (Contrast). The placeholder text "Search the OU" inside the main OU search box at the top of the page does not provide sufficient contrast with the background. This issue will be resolved by the end of November 2022.
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).
Some tables do not have the header cells which label the data columns and rows correctly identified within the code, and this makes it difficult for screen reader users to interpret the data within the table. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships).
Some pages include invalid HTML code which may present issues for assistive technology. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 4.1.1 (Parsing)
Some pages include videos presented within elements called iFrames, and these elements are missing a meaningful title which would help screen reader users identify the content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value).
The “How OU Study Works” and “Preparing for Study” videos on the International Students page include text on screen which is not included in the main soundtrack. This means that this visual information is not available to blind users who rely on audio. Most of the video content is spoken, however the text on screen should be included in the main soundtrack, or in a separate audio description. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.2.5 (Audio Description). This will be resolved by November 2022.
Following on from the accessibility audit of the Courses and Qualifications site, we are working through the issues to identify solutions and develop a roadmap for resolving them. Our initial investigations will be completed by November 2022, by which point we will update this statement with further details and timings. We will prioritise issues that have the most significant impact on website users.
3rd Party product: Unibuddy
We subscribe to a 3rd party product called Unibuddy on our Ask a student page which allows potential students to communicate with OU student ambassadors to find out more about studying with the Open University. Unibuddy provide their own accessibility statement. The Accessibility and Usability Evaluation (AUE) team at the OU have also carried out an accessibility audit of Unibuddy and we are working with them to resolve accessibility issues. Currently the following accessibility issues have been identified.
It is not possible to use the resizing options available within browser settings (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Edge) to enlarge text on the page. This makes it difficult for people who need to increase text size to make content easier to read. The current work-around for this is to use browser zoom to increase the size of all content on the page. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.4 (Resize text). Unibuddy plan to resolve this issue by end of November 2022.
Navigating with the keyboard
It is not possible to use keyboard controls alone (no mouse) to tab to and use the month and year dropdowns within the date picker tool in the Settings area of Unibuddy. The current work-around for this is to manually enter a date using the format XX-XX-XXXX. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.1.1 (Keyboard). Unibuddy plan to resolve this issue by end of November 2022.
Within the Chat area, it is not possible to tab into the Chat area to scroll through messages. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.1.1 (Keyboard). Unibuddy plan to resolve this issue the end of November 2022.
Issues affecting screen reader users
Edit buttons within the settings area do not have a meaningful label within the code that can be interpreted by screen reader software. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). Unibuddy plan to resolve this issue by end of November 2022.
When Edit buttons are activated within the settings area, the focus should be taken into the text area that is to be edited. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.2 (Meaningful sequence). Unibuddy plan to resolve this issue by end of November 2022.
We are not claiming Disproportionate Burden for the Courses and Qualifications website.
Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulation
We do not have anything considered to be out of scope on the Courses and Qualifications website.
What we’re doing to improve accessibility
As we build new websites and digital services, 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.
The Open University website 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 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 November 2021. It was last reviewed on 12 September 2022
This website was last tested on 12 April 2021. The test was carried out by the Accessibility and Usability Evaluation Team at the Open University. Manual testing against WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines was carried out on a sample of 10 web pages which were selected to represent different website elements and content types. In addition to this, automated testing was conducted across the entire website. Findings from both test approaches were then merged.
The accessibility of this site is also monitored in real-time using an automated accessibility tool.