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Accessibility statement: The OpenSTEM Labs

Accessibility statement: The OpenSTEM Labs

This accessibility statement applies to the OpenSTEM Labs website, you will find more specific statements, on individual sites, where more detail is helpful for that particular area. 

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 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.  

  • 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, which is an automated service that converts files from one format to another, for example, PDF to text, audio, Word or Braille. 

  • AbilityNet also provides advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability. 

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 Accessibility 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 you 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 (for example search boxes, check boxes) is not sufficient. 

  • 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. 

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 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 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 the Open University Accessibility 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

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. 

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 content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons 

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Current web technology is not capable of ensuring the accessibility of specialised notations (e.g., mathematics, chemistry, physics, music, phonetics etc.). We are monitoring developments in these areas and will improve our services as the technology matures. 

Some online activities cannot be made fully accessible (e.g., categorising an image). Wherever practical, an alternative activity will be provided. 

The level of accessibility during live events is limited. We are working closely with third-party suppliers and improving our internal systems to improve accessibility during live events. 

The Open University provides links to external websites that may not meet accessibility standards. 

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 in accordance with WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.1 (bypass blocks) 

Status messages 

Where our pages contain status messages and pop-up boxes, these have been correctly marked-up so that screen-reader users are notified. We are aware of two specific instances where this is not the case, whilst answering certain types of questions within a Quiz/iCMA activity and when the OU Media player is displaying an error message. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 4.1.3 (status messages). 

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. 

Focus visible 

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 fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.7 (focus visible). To regain clear screen focus, pressing the TAB key selects the next appropriate 'Next week', 'Next day' or 'Previous day' link. We are in the process of building a new booking system which will include clear focus for screen readers.  

Missing group labels 

We are aware that the radio buttons and checkboxes within the filter menus are not associated with their corresponding group label. As a result, on tabbing to the radio buttons using a screen reader, the screen reader reads out only the individual labels associated with the radio buttons, and not the group label of the related radio buttons. This is a known issue and fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.3.1 (info and relationships). 


We aim to make all website text, graphics and icons adhere to the correct contrast ratio according to WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.3 (contrast minimum) and 1.4.11 (non-text contrast) 


We are aware of some specific instances within experiment pages where some text is slightly under the required ratio. Examples of this are URL links within the experiment information and the arrows within the booking pages date header. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.3 (contrast minimum) and 1.4.11 (non-text contrast). This is currently being investigated as part of a website refresh. The booking pages are undergoing a redevelopment and this issue will be addressed as part of that development. 

Page content


The HTML and XML code of some website pages will not validate against the appropriate W3C specification. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria  4.1.1 (parsing). 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. 

Meaningful labels 

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 fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 3.3.2 (labels or instructions). The booking pages are undergoing a redevelopment and this issue will be addressed as part of that development. 

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. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.2.1 (audio only and video only pre-recorded) and 1.2.2 (captions pre-recorded). 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 

Experiment specific information

We are currently in the process of testing the experiments within the OpenSTEM Labs 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. 

Using our website on mobile devices

The OpenSTEM labs website is mobile-responsive and adjusts its presentation according to the width of the screen you’re using, allowing an optimum presentation of information in the space available. In some circumstances not all information is shown so that the content is displayed correctly on a smaller screen. More information is available within the Using a mobile device document. 

When using a mobile device to view our websites, some content might require you to scroll horizontally as well as vertically. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.10 (reflow). Users are most likely to experience this on pages that contain content with long line lengths (computing code or mathematical equations for example), where large amounts of information is within a wide table and when using certain question types within the Quiz/iCMA activity. We are aware of this issue, however we are unable to break the context of the content resulting in multi-directional scrolling. We recommend you view this content using a larger screen. 

Disproportionate burden

Testing has shown that the OpenSTEM Labs is not fully mobile responsive in terms of some of the experiments, this fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.4.10 (reflow). 

The commitment in both time and resource required to make all experiments fully responsive is considered a disproportionate burden. 

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 part of our Digital Governance Framework, The Open University has an approved Digital Accessibility standard which is available to all staff members. The standard sets WCAG 2.1 AA as a benchmark and aligns with our legal obligation under the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. As part of the Digital Governance Framework, staff are provided with resources and guidance to ensure they are able to achieve this standard and are following best practice. 

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.  

In addition, The Open University is undertaking a long-term project to roll out the use of the Siteimprove digital tool to monitor website quality, accessibility, and compliance across the public-facing parts of the web estate. Staff are offered training for how to use the automated outputs of the tool to identify defects and areas of development and integrate this into web estate management effectively. 

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 additional 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.  

The Accessibility and Usability team runs a network of over 80 accessibility champions, who work as points of contact on accessibility queries within their respective departments. 

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 7th August 2023 and was last reviewed on 8th August 2023.  

The testing was carried out by the Accessibility and Usability Evaluation Team at The Open University. 

The sample used for testing consisted of key pages from the OpenSTEM Labs website. Manual testing was carried out on the sample pages, and this included a review using the NVDA screen reader for Windows.