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Digital accessibility statement and related sites and services

Birkbeck College runs a wide variety of websites and services in support of our mission and for the benefit of our staff, students, members of the wider academic community and the general public. We want as many people as possible to be able to use these websites and services.

For nearly two centuries, it has been our mission to:

  • make educational opportunities available that meet the changing educational, cultural, personal and career needs of students of all ages, and from a diverse range of educational and social backgrounds
  • conduct high quality research to further civic debate and for the public good.

It is therefore especially important to us that our websites and services are as widely accessible as possible. For example, that means you should be able to:

  • change colours, contrast levels and fonts
  • zoom in up to 300% 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 (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver).

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

We have consciously prioritised our efforts to enhance accessibility to those areas that:

  • are essential to enable users to engage with Birkbeck (because these are necessary to join us to study here, work here or engage with our research)
  • are used by the largest audiences (because they impact the most people).

AbilityNet?has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

How accessible this website is

We know some parts of our websites and services aren’t fully accessible:

  • Some older PDF and Microsoft Office documents aren’t fully accessible to screen reader software.
  • Live video streams don’t have captions.
  • Pre-recorded videos don’t have captions.
  • Some of our online forms are difficult to navigate using just a keyboard.
  • Some of our online services for staff users are difficult to navigate using screen reader software and/or without the use of a mouse.
  • Some of our older online web presence is not yet optimised for use on mobile devices or tablets.

Contacting us

If you can’t access parts of our websites, want to report accessibility problems, or need information in a different format:

We’ll try and help you as soon as possible, but in all cases we will aim to get back to you within seven days.

Opening hours for telephone and face-to-face support are available on our website.

If you can’t view the location map on our site, call us for directions.

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact us using the details above.

Enforcement procedure

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

Birkbeck College 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 content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

  • Informational images
    • Some information-carrying images don’t have a text alternative, so the information in them isn’t available to people using a screen reader. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
    • We plan to add text alternatives for all such images by September 2020. When we publish new content we’ll aim to make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.
  • Unresponsive templates
    • Some older parts of our website are not responsive. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.10 (reflow).
    • We plan to migrate important content from these older websites into a fully responsive template by September 2021.

Disproportionate burden

  • Staff facing ERP application
    • Our core HR, payroll and finance system user interfaces are not responsive. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.10 (reflow).
    • We’ve assessed the cost of fixing this issue. 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 April 2021.

Content that’s not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

  • PDFs and other documents
    • Many of our older PDFs and Office documents don’t 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 (name, role value).
    • Some of our PDFs and Office 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 Office 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. For example, we don’t plan to fix content published in Moodle for academic years up to and including 2017-18.
    • It is our intention that new PDFs or Office documents we publish should meet accessibility standards.
  • Pre-recorded video
  • Live video

How we tested this website

This website was last tested on 4 October 2019. The test was carried out by Birkbeck staff using the 'SMARTVIEW' bookmarklet provided by Sitemorse. This primarily highlights programmatically detectable accessibility issues.

Our approach to deciding on a sample of pages to test was to consider a range of pages that are examples of those that are the most heavily used or are critical to joining Birkbeck’s community.

The outcomes of this round of testing follows:

Page and locationOutcome
Birkbeck home page No priority issues
Prospective student landing page No priority issues, minor heading hierarchy issue
Prospectus request form No priority issues
Applicant and Student self-service system, 'My Birkbeck' No priority issues, minor heading hierarchy issue and missing page description.
A very commonly visited course listing page No priority issues
A sample Virtual Learning Environment course area (behind a log-in) No priority issues, minor heading hierarchy issue
Online jobs recruitment service No priority issues programmatically reported. Subsequent manual inspection shows the system loads significant data only via JavaScript, giving users with JavaScript disabled a poor experience and not displaying vacancies to screen readers. This will be raised with the product suppliers, Hireserve.


Note that outcomes identified as 'false positives' have been removed from the descriptions above.

Alongside this, periodic (normally monthly) reports are run across the majority of Birkbeck’s web estate. Issues evidenced by those reports are assessed and fixed where appropriate by relevant staff.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

Our accessibility roadmap shows how and when we plan to improve accessibility on this website outside of our standard, business-as-usual incremental improvement activity.

This statement was prepared on 13 September 2019. It was last updated on 4 October 2019.

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