Accessibility Statement

At the University of Birmingham, we want to ensure that as many people as possible can use our website, and we are working to improve our digital services.

This accessibility statement covers this website [birmingham.ac.uk] as the main website for the University. We have several websites, mobile applications, and platforms, each of which are being reviewed and have their own accessibility statement. We aim to achieve the recommended government standard for web accessibility (WCAG 2.1 AA). We also test with users of varied needs and on different assistive devices.

As a user with accessible needs, you should be able to:

  • change colours, contrast levels and fonts
  • zoom in up to 200% without the text spilling off the screen
  • navigate most of the website using just a keyboard
  • navigate most of the website using speech recognition software
  • listen to most of the website using a screen reader

We also aim to make the website text as simple as possible to understand.

If you have a disability, AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use.

How accessible this website is

We know some parts of this website aren’t fully accessible. We are working on these parts of the site and are committed to producing an accessible site for all users. Those parts with accessibility problems are as follows:

  • Most older PDF and Word documents aren’t fully accessible to screen reader software
  • Embedded YouTube videos aren’t fully accessible to screen reader software
  • Some of our online forms are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard and lack focus
  • The colour contrast on some page elements is insufficient to be easily discernible for all users
  • ARIA tags are improperly labelled in some cases
  • Alternative text is not always applied consistently throughout the site
  • The line height or spacing of text cannot be modified by the user
  • Our videos and live video streams do not have captions

What to do if you can’t access parts of this website

If you need information on this website in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille, please email accessibility@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

We’ll consider your request and get back to you within 10 days.

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website and are continuing to audit our content. If you find something that you are unable to access, or we have failed to identify a barrier, please let us know.

If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, please email accessibility@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Enforcement procedure

If you are unhappy with the response you have received from the University about your accessibility-related issue, you can make a complaint to the University by emailing accessibility-complaint@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

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’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

The University of Birmingham 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

  1. Some images don’t have a suitable text alternative, so the information in them isn’t available to people using a screen reader.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘A’ success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
    We plan to add text alternatives for all images by September 2020. When we publish new content, we’ll make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.
  2. Some areas of the site continue to use text represented as images.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘AA’ success criterion 1.4.5 (images of text).
    We plan to recreate these images as accessible images/content by September 2020. When we publish new images, we will make sure we use accessible content.
  3. Some pages use multiple H1 tags or skip heading levels within the page structure. 
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘AA’ success criterion 2.4.6 (headings and labels).
    We plan to resolve all these issues by September 2020 and will ensure all new published content follows a consistent page content structure.
  4. Keyboard navigation, including the ability to tab easily through content on some web pages is not logical and intuitive. We are currently auditing our website and will address these pages as we find them.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘A’ success criterion 2.1.1 (keyboard access).
    We will be addressing this issue during the Autumn term of 2019.
  5. Colour palette: Colour contrast is insufficient on some elements across the site and colour use on some elements (e.g. links) were inconsistent.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘AA’ success criterion 1.4.3 (contrast (minimum)).
    We will be addressing this issue during the Autumn term of 2019.
  6. Search tool: An empty submission using the global search does not present an appropriate error.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘A’ success criterion 3.3.1 (error identification).
    We are currently implementing a new search software/tool which is scheduled for release by 2020 and will ensure the implementation of the new search feature complies with WCAG 2.1, AA.
  7. On Input: There is no label or instruction explaining the expected behaviour of the “Dubai” switch.
    This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 ‘A’ success criterion 3.3.2 (labels or instructions).
    We will be addressing this issue during the Autumn term of 2019.
  8. Some of our PDFs and Word documents published since September 2018 and older documents that are essential to providing our services, are not meeting the required accessibility standards.
    By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.

The site also contains a range of third party content and functionality. This may direct you to a related service, or partner we work with, where we are not responsible for the accessibility of this content. 

Disproportionate burden

Interactive Forms

Some of our interactive forms are difficult to navigate using a keyboard. For example, because some form controls are missing a ‘label’ tag.

Our forms are built and hosted through third party software and ‘skinned’ to look like our website. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (information and relationships).

We’ve assessed the cost of fixing the issues with interactive tools and transactions. We believe that doing so now would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations. We will make another assessment when the supplier contract is up for renewal, likely to be in two years time.

PDF documents since 2018

Some of our content across the site is in PDF format where a durable format is needed. We will be reviewing all PDF documents that are essential for our services and converting these to accessible pages.

However, we have examined documents published after 23 September 2018 and we've assessed the cost of fixing these documents. We believe that doing so would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations.

Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

PDFs and other documents

Many of our older PDFs and Word documents published before 23 September 2018 do not meet accessibility standards - for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2.

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services. For example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.

The accessibility regulations don’t require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services. Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish will meet accessibility standards.

Live video

Live video streams don’t have captions. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.4 (captions - live).
We don’t plan to add captions to live video streams because live video is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Online maps

We will try and ensure online maps are as accessible as possible, but online maps are currently exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations

How we tested this website

This website was last tested on 31 July 2019 and we continue to audit. The test was carried out by our trusted agencies and University staff using a selection of automated tools, as well as manual checks.

As our website contains thousands of pages, we selected a sample of pages to test based on average use, volume of traffic, and content type. We tested the following pages as they contain our main features used across the site:

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

Our accessibility roadmap, summarised below, shows how and when we plan to improve accessibility on this site. This roadmap is subject to change, and the site will continue to be audited and adjusted.

We aim that the following changes will be made:

  • We will update video captions, or remove older videos without captions, by December
  • We will remove out of date elements, custom code and features by December
  • We will update our alt-text by July 2020
  • We will update our PDF documents that are essential by September 2020
  • We are working with our supplier to update some of our forms and aim to have these updated by August 2020

We are also rolling out an internal training course for all our website editors as part of our community of practice and super-user group, and updating permissions across the website by December 2019.

Change log

This statement was prepared on 5 August 2019. It was first published on 22 September 2019, and last updated on 8 November 2019. 

The following changes have been made: 

  • We have removed reference that our our skip to content links were not working, and being unable to tab through the page as this functionality now exists
  • We have removed reference to a lack of focus on the 'search' and 'star' icons on the navigation, as these have now been introduced