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Accessibility statement: The OpenScience Laboratory

Accessibility statement: The OpenScience Laboratory

This accessibility statement applies to The OpenScience Laboratory.

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.
  • 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 (student sign-in required), 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 information 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:

  • 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.
  • Some activities (for example some of those involving maps, charts, graphs, online-experiments, interactive activities and features).
  • Some content with specialised notations, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and music.
  • Some content created in tutorials.
  • Older PDFS and Word documents may not be fully accessible to screen reader software.
  • The colour contrast for some text and some interface components does not provide enough contrast.
  • Some online forms are not set up correctly to include helpful direction for screen reader users.

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.

Where elements of our websites are not accessible to you, the Computing Helpdesk  (student sign-in required) might be able to assist you and is available to help current students and tutors access Learning Systems websites and other online facilities.

Learning Systems guidance and support can be found in the Accessibility area of the Computing Guide (including information regarding alternative downloadable formats, student sign-in required), with other University accessibility information available within the Help Centre.

Students who have any other queries should contact their support team and we 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.

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 (student sign-in required).

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 for The OpenScience Laboratory

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. To open the form in a new browser tab, press ‘CTRL’ whilst clicking on the link or right click the link and select ‘Open link in new tab’ (or similar). Do not use this form if you require immediate study support help – for that please contact your Student Support Team or the Computing Helpdesk, whichever is appropriate.

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 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.

Compliance Status

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 list of issues on the following pages have been found through accessibility testing of The OpenScience Laboratory website but due to testing limitations, the following pages might not contain every compliance issue with WCAG 2.1 AA. We are working to address these issues as soon as possible, unless stated otherwise.

The content listed in the following pages will explain how it is non-accessible.

Page structure

To aid page navigation on other University websites, skip links are provided that enable users to move around our website pages more easily. Skip links are not currently available when navigating The OpenScience Laboratory, this does not meet section 2.4.1 of the WCAG criteria. Development is in progress on implementing skip links across the website and we aim to make these available as soon as possible.

Most of our website pages use the correct HTML mark-up to convey the structure of the page. In some instances, pages will be missing the ‘H1’ heading level mark-up, this does not meet section 1.3.1 of the WCAG criteria. Multiple systems are required in order to build and produce our website pages, this results in a complex page hierarchy, however the hierarchy of the page will still be correct if no ‘H1’ heading level is present. Due to the complex nature of how our pages are produced, it is not suitable to try and implement a ‘H1’ heading level for pages where they are not present. This should not cause any or substantial problems for the majority of users, but if you find the site is not accessible to you for this reason, please use the feedback option provided within this statement to let us know.

Keyboard access

In most circumstances the website is fully keyboard accessible. As specified within the Page structure section, skip links are being added where appropriate to aid navigation and interacting with most features is possible through keyboard use alone.

When navigating an experiment booking page, once a 'Next week', 'Next day' or 'Previous day' link is selected, the screen focus is not visible and it is not clear where the focus is located on the screen, it also does not alert screen reader users which element is currently in focus or where the cursor is located. This does not meet section 2.4.7 of the WCAG criteria. To regain clear screen focus, pressing the TAB key selects the next appropriate 'Next week', 'Next day' or 'Previous day' link.


We aim to make all website text, graphics and icons the correct contrast ratio according to sections 1.4.3 and 1.4.11 of the WCAG criteria. We are aware of the following areas where the colour contrast ratio requires changing to meet these criteria: the navigation links used within the main website header, the experiment 'Materials' filter setting, the 'Popular experiments' title text and the 'Home' navigation link used at the bottom of experiment pages.

Page content

The HTML and XML code of some website pages will not validate against the appropriate W3C specification, which does not meet section 4.1.1 of the WCAG criteria. We are in the process of evaluating any invalid code on the website and will look to resolve all invalid code instances (where possible) as soon as possible. The validation errors should not cause any or substantial problems for the majority of users, but if you find the site is not accessible to you, please use the feedback option provided within this statement to let us know.

Within the experiment booking pages, some elements are not fully accessible with screen reader software. For example, we are aware that some form entry fields do not have meaningful labels for screen readers, this does not meet section 3.3.2 of the WCAG criteria.

Experiment specific information

We are currently in the process of testing the experiments within the OpenScience Laboratory and will add any necessary information to this statement if required.

We strive to exceed current accessibility standards. However, some elements of some of the experiments might not be fully accessible, for example some of those involving maps, charts, graphs, interactive activities and features.

Audio and video content

Some of the audio and video on the website might not provide appropriate transcripts or captions. This might mean that this content is not accessible for some users, which does not meet sections 1.2.1 and 1.2.2of the WCAG criteria. Where possible, we are working to provide transcripts and captions where they are missing, if you are unable to use any audio or video on the website please use the feedback option provided within this statement to let us know.

Disproportionate burden

Testing has shown that the OpenScience Laboratory is not fully mobile responsive in terms of the platform and some experiments, this does not meet section 1.4.10 of the WCAG criteria.

The commitment in both time and resource required to make the current version of the OpenScience Laboratory platform fully responsive is considered a disproportionate burden.

However, high level requirements for a future version of the OpenScience Laboratory platform have been agreed which include making the platform fully responsive.

Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulation

We do not have anything out of scope at this domain level. If there are any areas out of scope this will be declared within the specific statement for that sub-domain.

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 14 May 2020. It was last reviewed on 14 December 2020.

This website was last tested on 24 January 2020. The test was carried out by University staff responsible for The OpenScience Laboratory.

Samples of OpenScience Laboratory pages are chosen to be representative of different types of content across the website with an emphasis placed on those pages with large numbers of users. To undertake the audits, we use a combination of automated and manual testing methods.