Accessibility

We want everyone who uses our website to be able to find, read and understand our content.

On

Scope and ownership

This accessibility statement applies to the University of Sheffield main website and applications across the extensive wider University domain. 

Responsibility for the main website sits across the Digital team in Corporate Communications and the Web team in IT Services. If you wish to get in contact please email us: digital.help@sheffield.ac.uk.

In this accessibility statement we refer to browser plug-ins and other tools that may make your experience of web content more comfortable or productive. These suggestions are provided in good faith from reputable sources but please note that plugins and software are used at your own risk. The University of Sheffield is not responsible for any issues arising from the use of tools or plugins over which they have no influence or control. Plugin suggestions are for the Chrome browser but similar (or identical) plugins exist for other browsers. 


Using the website

The main website pages reflow to fit the resolution and orientation of your device. Pages are responsive up to 300%+ using browser zoom and 200% when enlarging default text size. 

Magnifying content

On a laptop/PC browser

You can magnify text by increasing the default font size in your browser settings (or with browser plugins – for example A+ Font SizeChangerLite for Chrome).

Or you can use the inbuilt browser zoom function – CTRL + (Windows) or CMD + (Mac).

Using a mix of both techniques can give fine-tuned viewing experiences.

On a mobile device

Get magnification and reflow by changing the browser default font size and default display size in the accessibility settings menu

Personalising colours

Pages have been designed so that users should be able to change font size and colours within the browser or using browser plug-ins such as HighContrast (Chrome web store).

Navigation

Pages have been designed using navigation landmarks to allow screen reader users to understand and access content more quickly.

Keyboard access is generally strong with the "skip to main content" link across all pages and a strong visual indicator of tab focus. Submenus can be accessed by hitting the enter key when the menu item is highlighted.   

To allow for full keyboard navigation of all focusable interactive elements in macOS Safari and Firefox, you'll need to make sure the your keyboard settings are adjusted.

The heading structure of most pages sampled is logical and hierarchical, allowing assistive technology users to navigate quickly to any part of the page – for example using a browser plugin such as HeadingsMap or inbuilt screenreader functionality. A few pages have missed heading levels (for example level 2 and 3) in some sections. 

All links should open in the same browser window, except for file download links (Google and Microsoft Word documents and PDF files) and links to external websites.

Resources for adjusting your laptop or phone

You can find useful guidance on adjusting your laptop or phone to suit your needs on these resources: MyComputerMyWay or Scope guidance on phone accessibility features.

Listening to content

Most of the page content can be accessed by text-to-speech tools, including:

Exceptions – where known – are noted in the Non-accessible content section.

More on enhancing your experience

You can explore some of our recommendations for tools that can make your experience better. These include:

  • screenreaders and magnifiers
  • text converters
  • reading and text-to-speech (read aloud) software
  • mind mapping and notetaking
  • voice recognition (speech-to-text) software
  • accessible furniture and equipment

Accessibility features are in place for the University’s core digital learning tools such as Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, Echo 360 (Encore), Google Meet, Kaltura, PebblePad, TurningPoint and Turnitin.


How accessible is the website?

There are several key accessibility challenges that we are planning to fix. This section summarises the main issues that affect you. The technical section on non-accessible content has more details if you need them.

  • We are aware of widespread colour contrast issues resulting in accessibility fails. These currently apply to older pages of the website aimed at current students and staff. While this is being rectified you may find a tool such as Reader View a useful way of improving contrast. 
  • There are minor issues with keyboard only navigation – for example the tab order changes when zoomed in more than 200%. 
  • Screen readers could experience the following challenges:
    • Although all pages have a skip link, in some browsers a screen reader takes the focus after the skip link in the tab order. Whether this happens is dependent on a visitor's browser and device settings. Screenreader users should either: Shift Tab to go back to the skip link; use ARIA landmarks; or navigate by heading level.
    • Some paragraphs of text are divided using double line breaks instead of paragraph HTML tags
  • Some non-text content such as images, charts, icons and infographics, do not have appropriate text equivalents.
  • Time-based media, such as videos and podcasts, do not always have text or audio descriptions, or captions.
  • Some documents and instructions depend on sensory characteristics such as shape, size, colour or location.
  • Downloadable documents, guides, policies and procedures in PDF format are not fully accessible. Few are structured for navigation by screen readers (or sighted users via the bookmark pane). Some were unable to reflow when magnified (for example disability support guide). If you require an accessible version that is structured for navigation or will reflow when magnified please contact us.

Feedback and contact information

If you need information on this website in a different format or via an alternative service please contact us by form, email or phone and ask for an alternative format. 


Reporting accessibility problems with this website

If you have reported a problem with our website or asked for an alternative format and you are not happy with our response, please contact us by form, email or phone. This will help us improve our systems.

If you are still not happy then please email us at digital.help@sheffield.ac.uk and mark for the attention of the Head of Digital who will look into the problem. 

If all else fails then you can contact The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), 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).


Contact us

By form or email

Please fill in our feedback form.

If you are using a screen reader then it will be easier to email us at digital.help@sheffield.ac.uk or phone our helpdesk.

By phone

Contact our helpdesk: +44 114 222 2111 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm).

Our helpdesk can connect you to a named individual or help you find the appropriate department if you require specific information.


Responding to your request

We’ll review your request and get back to you within two working days. Please be aware that the people reviewing the request may not be the owners of the content or the service you are trying to access and will do their best to seek out the owners as quickly as possible. Some requests will be easier to fulfil than others and take a little more time – we can discuss this with you. 

Visiting us

If you are planning to visit the University, you can find our address and contact details.

You can find specific guidance for disabled students and visitors, such as access information for all our buildings and services, the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service and safety procedures.


Technical information about this website's accessibility 

The University of Sheffield 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.


Updates to non-accessible content and compliance status

Coming soon:

  • Expanded alternative text guidance integrated to image upload/edit form
  • CMS accessibility course

Items which have been added to the review schedule and completed.

August 2023

  • Discover Uni has informed us that the widget used on course pages now has improved colour contrast levels, aria labelling, larger text size and the animations can now be paused
  • Hotjar has informed us that the surveys widget now has additional labels, alt text, real radio/tickbox input elements, keyboard controls, improved focus, focus indicators and focus order for elements

June 2023

  • Added missing focus states to secondary navigation menus
  • Launch of accessibility hub on staff intranet, a home for our accessibility best practice, guidance and advice
  • Updating of published accessibility governance information for our different web publishing platforms

April 2023

Website editors are now required to tick to confirm any website PDF or document is accessible prior to upload.

March 2023

  • Updated published guidance regarding uploading of inaccessible PDFs and documents
  • Plain English course organised for website editors

February 2023

Text on images guidance for website editors published.

January 2023

Guide to accessible and inclusive communication for staff launched.

2022 updates

July 2022

Dropdown secondary navigation menus are now accessible using the keyboard.

June 2022

  • Incorrectly marked up dropdown lists on some forms are no longer present
  • Text is no longer cut off from secondary navigation when the page is resized to 200% or when text spacing is increased
  • Table data cell <td> now communicated by VoiceOver
  • Table structure is no longer malformed
  • Figure element no longer used inappropriately in tables
  • Heading levels on some Components changed to make them more logical and hierarchical
  • Links and buttons have improved and more consistent focus states

May 2022

  • Hamburger menu is now accessible using the keyboard when zoomed in at 200%
  • Arrow on home template is now a button element
  • Focus now allowed on homepage main story
  • Controls on components now change appearance when selected
  • Focus is now set on local navigation focus

March 2022

  • Removed an inappropriate ARIA attribute on news search box
  • Main search box ARIA attributes corrected
  • University Executive Board meeting minutes archive 2020-21 converted from PDFs to web pages 

January 2022

Navigation

  • Global navigation now has correct heading levels
  • Global navigation expand/collapse state now defined to a correct element
  • VoiceOver focus now moves expectedly through navigation
  • Expandable element in local navigation is now programmatically identified
  • Local navigation now given role and state on mobile view

Labels and focus

  • Main search close button and autocomplete now has an appropriate ARIA label
  • Homepage course finder links now have ARIA list labels and hover state
  • Footer links, footer icons and undergraduate course key details now have ARIA list labels
  • Responsive images no longer have article element
  • Tabs in online prospectus now receive keyboard focus and tabbed interface is declared
  • Interactive elements now receive correct keyboard focus, have a clear focus indicator, have a correctly nested <a> element and a programmatic role and name
  • Signposting boxes now have visible focus

Headers

  • Homepage header levels are no longer skipped
  • Signposting card and News card heading structure is now more consistent with the visual structure

Other

  • Reading order and meaningful visual structure on course pages now match
  • Colour contrast improved on buttons, search placeholder text and banner alert link text
  • Resizing web browser no longer results in loss of footer functionality
2021 updates

November 2021

  • Green button links have a more distinctive focus state
  • Default state of data tables changed so that top row is marked as a header
  • Skip to main content link is now focusable on page load when using a screen reader
  • Homepage image now has complete textual description

September 2021

Single 'Related links' now render as a paragraph instead of a list Added an ARIA label for logos

June 2021

Accordion items are now marked up as expandable Improved text colour contrast on green call-to-action button

April 2021

Headings structure within a page

Main homepage now has H1 header

March 2021

Headings structure within a page

Postgraduate taught prospectus headings structure and nesting corrected for all courses

February 2021

Images

  • Review of the highest-visited pages is underway and alt text is being updated
  • Alt text guidance updated on web support site and email sent to editors to remind them of their responsibilities in this area

Main header and onsite search

  • The University of Sheffield logo alt text now describes the destination of the link
  • Focus order is now logical when zoomed in

Videos

  • Video play buttons now have unique descriptive text
  • Video placeholder images now have alt text

Images

  • Removed the image alt text in templates where we can guarantee that the images used are decorative
  • Removed redundant title text from footer links

January 2021

Primary and secondary navigation

  • Added visual indicator to top level items to show they expand
  • List headers marked up as headers in code
  • Expandable items marked as role=”button” and have ARIA-expanded attribute set
  • Expanded menu collapses when focus leaves or escape key is pressed
  • Secondary navigation only: improved colour contrast ratio for non-focussed menu items
  • Footer header changed to a semantic heading
  • Content editor guidance has been updated to suggest using shorter text length is used for navigation labels
2020 updates

December 2020

Main header and onsite search

  • Improved the colour contrast between placeholder text and input for the internal search box
  • Error message for search input is now descriptive

Screenreader issues

Footer links are now marked up in a single list


      Non-accessible content and compliance status

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

      Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

      Review and fix process and schedule

      The non-compliant areas of our website are reviewed as part of our website development work roadmap. We have reviewed all issues identified in the latest accessibility audits (August 2021 for the public website and June 2022 for our internal intranet sites).

      From November 2021 we added actions into our backlog and development roadmaps to remedy the issues.

      The next public site audit is scheduled for August 2023.

      Headings structure within a page 

      Heading levels are skipped on some pages

      On several pages, the headings are not nested correctly. Headings should be nested, and levels should not be skipped. This can cause confusion for some users as they are unaware of the visual hierarchy of headings. This makes it difficult to navigate. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.3.3 Information and relationships. Further training and guidance for website editors to encourage them to use the correct headings will help address this.

      We've updated high-traffic web pages but this is still inconsistent on pages across the domain. The heading level for section names of the website is to be changed to an H2 and this has been added to the review schedule above.

      Images

      Decorative images have redundant text alternative

      On several pages, there are decorative images with alternative text. The alt text is not needed – it adds audio clutter. 

      This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.1.1 Non-text content. We have removed the image alt text in templates where we can guarantee that the images used are decorative. We have reviewed and updated our guidelines so that editors understand that if an image is decorative, it should have an empty alt. A review of the highest visited pages took place in July 2021 and the alt text was updated. We have updated our guidance and image upload forms to help editors understand how to write good alternative text and also that not all pages require an image.

      Image contains embedded text

      Text should not be embedded in images. This can make the content inaccessible. For example, screen readers rely on the text being included in text alternatives, which are commonly not effective for communicating multiple sentences or structured text. As well, the text appears pixelated when accessed with screen magnification software. There are images of text. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.4.5: Images of Text. We have updated our guidance to help editors understand why it is best to avoid images with embedded text.

      Primary and secondary navigation

      Nesting of list items declared incorrectly

      If a relationship between elements is expressed with visual cues, it also needs to be programmatically determined. This enables assistive technology to communicate the relationships to users. Content may otherwise seem unstructured or disorganised. There has been an attempt to implement a nested list on some pages. A new nesting is started in a separate <li> element for a group of related list items. However, they semantically belong to the previous <ul> element. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.3.1: Info and Relationships. This has been added to the review schedule above.

      Videos

      Our videos are keyboard operable. Most of the videos across our website are hosted on the Kaltura digital media hub or YouTube. Any videos published using Kaltura since 21 September 2021 have automatic captions applied. Staff are advised they can retrospectively generate captions for videos published before this date. However, we have a number of known accessibility issues.

      For more details see the Kaltura section of our page on the accessibility of our digital learning tools.

      We plan to address the below issues by implementing an updated web accessibility training programme that will commence from October 2023.

      Prerecorded video has no audio description or media alternative

      Videos must have accurate and informative audio descriptions or media alternative. There are prerecorded videos without audio descriptions or media alternative, such as a transcript. The video content relies on perceiving the visuals. This may particularly disadvantage low vision and blind users who may be excluded by the reliance on the visuals. Users may be unable to access the information in the video. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.2.3: Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded). Note that this WCAG A success criterion permits transcripts, unlike its AA counterpart (Audio Descriptions) which requires audio descriptions.

      Prerecorded video has no audio description

      Videos must have accurate and informative audio descriptions. There are prerecorded videos without audio descriptions. The video content relies on perceiving the visuals. This may particularly disadvantage low vision and blind users who may be excluded by the reliance on the visuals. Users may be unable to access the information in the video. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.2.3: Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded). Note that this WCAG AA success criterion requires audio descriptions, unlike its A counterpart (Audio Description or Media Alternative) which permits transcripts.

      Auto-generated captions do not include speakers’ names

      Pre-recorded videos require captions for users with limited or no hearing. Some of the videos use autogenerated captions. Although the accuracy of these is reasonable and they generally reflect the spoken words in the video, they lack an indication of who is currently speaking. This can be particularly difficult when speakers change multiple times. We know there are examples of this with our videos. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.2.2: Captions (Prerecorded).

      Videos must have accurate and synchronised captions

      There are prerecorded videos with captions that are auto-generated. However, the captions are slightly inaccurate. This may particularly disadvantage deaf users who may be excluded by the inaccuracy of the captions. Users might be misinformed or confused by the captions. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.2.2: Captions (Prerecorded).

      iFrames have inappropriate titles

      Interactive elements need a programmatically determined name, role, and value. These properties must also be accurate and appropriate. There are iFrame elements that have an inappropriate accessible name. This may particularly disadvantage users that interface with the accessibility properties of elements, such as screen reader and voice recognition users. That the accessible name is inappropriate may confuse or mislead users. This fails WCAG checkpoint 4.1.2: Name, Role, Value. Improving this for video iFrames has been added to the review schedule above.

      Additional plugins

      Hotjar for feedback surveys

      Hotjar feedback plugin is not fully accessible. It contains a colour contrast error and creates a repeated text issue when disabling Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

      Hotjar has confirmed they are aware of the issues but currently don't have a timeline for when these aspect of the surveys will become compliant.

      No means to control moving content

      Users must be able to pause, stop, or hide, any content that automatically moves, scrolls, or blinks. There is automatically moving content in the Discover Uni widget that cannot be controlled. This may disadvantage several user groups. For example, the content may move faster than screen readers can announce it, keyboard users may struggle to navigate through the content, and it may be cognitively overloading for various users. This fails WCAG checkpoint 2.2.2: Pause, Stop, Hide.

      Discover Uni has confirmed they will be updating the widget in due course, including implementing the necessary improvements to accessibility, but it's not yet clear when it will be fully compliant..

      Screenreader issues

      Accordion headings are not semantically a heading

      Both the primary and secondary navigation contain headings that visually look like headings, but they are not marked up as such. In all cases, the headings are marked up as links, and are not communicated as a heading to assistive technology users. Furthermore, the headings on the navigation submenus do not form a logical structure. This fails checkpoint 1.3.3 Information and relationships. This has been added to the review schedule above.

      Accordion list is marked up as a description list

      The group of accordions is wrapped in a <dl>, and each accordion button is a <dt> and the contents is a <dd>. This does not communicate what is being shown visually and may confuse assistive technology users who may be expecting different content. This fails checkpoint 1.3.3 Information and relationships. This has been reviewed but on investigation we found that the patch used to swap <dt> and <dl> tags to <div> resulted in all accordion functionality and styling being lost. Rebuilding the accordions from scratch has been added to the review schedule above.

      Screen reader users are told that the field is invalid before they input any information

      When a screen reader user first lands on a field, it reads ‘Search query, edit, required, invalid entry”. The user is told that their error is invalid before they have entered any information. This fails checkpoint 4.1.1 Parsing. This has been added to the review schedule above.

      Figure element used inappropriately

      If a relationship between elements is expressed with visual cues, it also needs to be programmatically determined. This enables assistive technology to communicate the relationships to users. Content may otherwise seem unstructured or disorganised.

      There is a <figure> element that has been used inappropriately to wrap the <table> element. This might convey wrong information to assistive technologies about the page content structure. As well, it might be mistaken that some important illustrations, diagrams, or photos have been missed. This fails WCAG checkpoint 1.3.1: Info and Relationships. This has been added to the review schedule above.

      Quotes not marked up semantically

      If a relationship between elements is expressed with visual cues, it also needs to be programmatically determinable. This enables assistive technology to communicate the relationships to users. Content may otherwise seem unstructured or disorganised. There are elements that are visually communicated as being quotes. However, this structure has not been programmatically determined.

      As quote content is not stored as a single field in our database, it is not possible for us to distinguish where non-speech quote marks have been used - e.g. when writing feet and inches, ditto marks and programming language markup. So globally changing all quotes on the website to use <q> </q> tags would result in content not being marked up appropriately. For this reason we have been advised by our accessability auditors that it is preferable to continue to keep quotes marked up as they are currently.

      Parsing errors

      Browsers are generally forgiving of these errors and warnings. However, assistive technologies more-so struggle to process semantics that deviates from the HTML specifications. Users may experience strange behaviour or diminished accessibility. The parsing errors include the following.

      • Element missing start or end tag
      • Element not nested correctly according to HTML specification
      • Elements with duplicate 'id'

      This fails WCAG checkpoint 4.1.1: Parsing. This has been added to the review schedule above.

      Disproportionate burden

      The University commenced a project in January 2018 to build a new, more accessible website and to review and migrate the content to this new website platform. This has evolved into a programme of work that covers the public website, Staff and Student hubs (intranets) and wider sites not hosted on the main University content management system. It is therefore disproportionate to fix accessibility problems from the legacy systems in conjunction with building and migrating appropriate content. 

      The two disproportionate burden statements outline the scale of the work and expected timescales.

      Disproportionate burden assessment - website and intranet

      Disproportionate burden assessment - non-CMS sites

      Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulation

      Audio descriptions are not available for all our time based media. For example, videos on our accommodation web pages and some returning to campus videos. This fails checkpoint 1.2.4 Audio description or media alternative and 1.2.5. We will review and update guidance for content creators and editors so that audio and media alternatives are provided.

      Embedded videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo and other media players include non-accessible elements that are native to the video platform. For example this means buttons to play videos are not descriptive enough for screen reader users as the context of the video is not clear; headings are not marked up semantically and accessible name not defined for volume slider. This fails WCAG 2.4.6 AA (Headings and Labels).

      There are some PDF documents on the website (such as the archive policy documents for 2016 to 2018) which are inaccessible but are out of scope for the accessibility regulations because they are not in active administrative use.

      Internal facing content (intranet and extranet) published before 23 September 2019 that has not undertaken a major revision.

      We know that some of third-party content linked from our websites and applications is not accessible. The accessibility regulations do not apply to third-party content that is not funded, developed, or controlled by the University, and many of these sites have their own accessibility statements. We will work with our suppliers to make sure they know about any accessibility issues we find.


      Preparation of this accessibility statement

      This statement was originally prepared on 22 September 2020 and was last reviewed and updated on 17 August 2023. We update this statement at least annually.

      The next website accessibility audit is due before the end of August 2023. Any subsequent actions will be reviewed and updated in this statement by the end of September 2023.

      This public website was last tested through August 2021. The testing was carried out as below.

      We conducted a headline overview test with external consultants Ability Net sampling a range of pages on key student journeys using a combination of manual testing and automated checkers.

      This was a functional review that identified accessibility issues as they are experienced by users who rely on assistive technology or need to personalise web content to meet their needs.

      The review focussed on reusable components and templates in order to identify accessibility issues that would need to be addressed for the site to be compliant with accessibility standards. The review had two components:

      • a headline review of five pages using ten accessibility criteria on each page and identify the components and templates that are reused across the site. These criteria are aligned to WCAG W3C Easy Checks methodology which will form part of the compliance monitoring process for the Public Sector Web Accessibility Regulations.
      • functional accessibility testing of up to ten components found to be causing accessibility issues during the headline review. Whilst this testing is grounded in the WCAG 2.1 level AA standards, its primary purpose is to identify issues that cannot be found with automatic checkers and provide recommendations on how to resolve or mitigate these issues.

      This accessibility review was undertaken in August 2021 on www.sheffield.ac.uk. Testing was carried out using a variety of tools, including assistive technologies and NVDA screen reader in Firefox browser.

      The review considered the following pages based on visitor journeys:

      • https://www.sheffield.ac.uk - main Content Management System (CMS) and public homepage
      • https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/accessibility - content page in CMS
      • https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/about/dates/current-and- future-semester - content page in CMS
      • https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/wall-women-help- inspire-more-girls-study-engineering - department content page in CMS
      • https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/2022/aerospace- engineering-beng - course content page in CMS

      We also do ongoing in-house manual testing using a range of tools such as Axe and an automated accessibility checker from Funnelback, the provider of our onsite search tool.


      What we're doing to improve accessibility

      We are working with our student Disability Champions (disabled students) and disabled staff to review key journeys across the University website, virtual learning platforms, Staff hub and Student hub. We will focus on visitors who do not regularly use a mouse.

      We have communicated accessibility good practice across the University organisation, run training and provide guidance for making content accessible.

      We will review and update the guidance and training provided to staff on how to create accessible content, with a focus on video and documents. We plan to do this by October 2023.

      To help students and visitors gain support with accessing the site, we will review suitable options for signposting to accessibility guidance, such as My Study My Way, so that students and visitors can adjust their operating system to meet their specific needs.

      We have reviewed the results of our own and external accessibility audits from September 2020, August 2021 and June 2022. We have scheduled new actions to our issue backlog, roadmap and sprints to remedy the issues, and some are complete.

      We will review our familiarity with ARIA and other accessibility coding techniques. We have embedded accessibility testing within our release and QA process and now run over 550 checks on any new deployment.

      A Disability Equality Strategy and Action plan, which aims to improve the experiences of our disabled staff and students was launched in Spring 2022. The institutional live disability equality action plan details the progress of the actions in the plan, including improving digital accessibility and meeting WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

      Contacting us

      You can contact us via our feedback form if you have any problems. Be as specific and detailed as you can, and please also tell us what you like and find useful.