Library Services Accessibility Statement: Library Services Website

This accessibility statement applies to the Library Services website accessed via

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 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 (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.

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:

  • 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.
  • The colour contrast for some text and some interface components (for example search boxes, check boxes) does not provide enough contrast

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


The Library Helpdesk uses different Webchat systems between 9am to 5pm and 5pm to 9am. Both systems have been audited for accessibility and we have developed Library Webchat accessibility guidance with advice on changing colour and font sizes, and using these systems with a screen reader.

We are claiming disproportionate burden regarding one of these Webchat systems, Comm100, which is used 9am to 5pm.

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

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 Accessibility support and 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.

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.

Contacting us

If you wish to contact us about anything not covered above, please use this Accessibility support and feedback form.

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.

Compliance Status

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances and exemptions listed below.

Non accessible content

Disproportionate burden

Third-party licenced resources

Open University Library Services provides access to over 580,000 ebook titles, 500 databases and 250,000 journal titles which are third-party licenced resources. These are spread over more than 400 separate platforms.

Having undertaken an assessment, we concluded that it would not be possible for Library Services to fully audit and prepare accessibility statements for all third-party content. It is prohibitive on the grounds of staff time. We believe that doing so would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations.

However, we carry out full accessibility audits of the most-used third-party resources, considering the number of times they are linked to from modules as well as the actual number of users. We also undertake cut-down audits on as many remaining third-party resources as possible. The Regulations (clause 7.4.b) provide for “accessible alternatives” and we outline our offering in this regard on Disabled user support.

We are committed to improving accessibility as outlined in What we’re doing to improve accessibility.

Webchat (Comm100)

Comm100 is used as the Webchat service on the Library Services website 9am to 5pm all year round.

The University’s accessibility audit has found that there are several areas where Comm100 does not meet the requirements of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications (No. 2)) Accessibility Regulations 2018. It is provided by a third-party supplier with whom the arrangement has been in force since late 2017, i.e. before the legislation came into force.

Just prior to September 2020, the Open University had commenced a new three-year contract with Comm100, to provide webchat. To cancel the contract at this stage would result in a disproportionate financial burden for the University, and with no guarantee that a more compliant equivalent webchat service was either currently available or could be procured.

For more information, please see Disproportionate Burden (Webchat) Statement.

Please see Library Webchat accessibility guidance for advice on changing colour and font sizes, and using our webchat systems with a screen reader.

Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulation

Pre-recorded audio and video published before 23 September 2020

Not all pre-recorded audio and video published before 23 September 2020 has captions and transcripts because these files are exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Any new pre-recorded video or audio we publish will meet accessibility standards.

Live video

We do not plan to add captions to live video streams because live video is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

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 18th September 2020. It was last reviewed on 26th September 2023.

This website was last tested on 14th February 2023. The test was carried out by Library Services

We used this approach to decide on a sample of pages to test:

  • Five key pages, including the homepage underwent a full WCAG2.1 AA audit
  • All pages were reviewed for possible accessibility issues, any pages with potential issues were added to the list of Quick Checks for further investigation
  • Six pages, including the contact form, underwent Quick Checks which included keyboard, screen reader, colour contrast, zoom and WAVE checks.

We will respond to your feedback within five working days. If you have an urgent library enquiry please contact the library helpdesk separately.

We appreciate that you have provided us with personal information, we will never sell on your data to anyone else and data is for the use of The Open University only. If you would like to find out more, please visit our privacy policy using the following link :