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


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:

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).


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.   

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 – notably the homepage – 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:
    • Accordion panels expand when selected but screen readers are not currently informed that this will happen.
    • 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 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 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

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

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

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


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


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

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

February 2021


  • 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

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

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 will be reviewed as part of our website development work roadmap. We plan to review all issues identified in the latest accessibility audits (August and September 2020). In November 2020 we added actions into our issue backlog and development roadmaps to remedy the issues. Subsequently, we expect to provide more detail on timelines and any disproportionate burden.

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 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.

Multiple H1 headings in a page 

On some pages there is no H1, while on others there are multiple H1s. This can cause confusion for users who are navigating through the page using heading as they will expect one main heading per page. This fails checkpoint 1.3.3 Information and relationships and 2.4.6 Headings and labels. This issue mainly affects content for staff and students in our old content management system which is scheduled to be moved or retired by June 2022.


Decorative images have alternative text 

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

This fails 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 is underway and alt text is being updated. We aim to have completed this by July 2021.

Primary and secondary navigation

Text is cut off from secondary navigation when the page is resized to 200% or when text spacing is increased 

When the user zooms in to 200% or increases their text spacing, some of the secondary navigation menu items fall on to two lines. When the user opens a submenu, some of the text is then cut off, and becomes difficult to read. This fails checkpoint 1.4.4 Resize text and 1.4.12 Text spacing. This has been added to the review schedule above. Content editor guidance now suggests using shorter text length for navigation labels.


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.

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 accommodation videos.

This fails checkpoint 1.2.2 Captions (Pre-recorded). We plan to fix this by reviewing and updating guidance for content creators and editors so that video media has accurate captions by July 2021.

Additional plugins

Hotjar for feedback surveys

Hotjar feedback plugin is not fully accessible. It contains contrast errors, empty buttons, missing form labels and creates a repeated text issue when disabling Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). The button to access the feedback tool is not accessible through keyboard inputs alone.

We have followed up on this with Hotjar who have confirmed they are aware of their need for improvement in this area and that work has already begun working on accessibility for their feedback tools, but it's not yet clear when they 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 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.

Skip to main content link not focusable on page load when using a screen reader

When using a keyboard, the user can focus on the 'skip to main content’ when the page first loads and move to the main content. However, when using a keyboard with a screen reader turned on, the user doesn’t first go to the skip to main content link. They can however navigate back to it. Please note: this is an intermittent issue.

This fails checkpoint 2.4.1 bypass blocks. This has been added to the review schedule above.

Disproportionate burden

Because of the ongoing agile nature of our review process it is not yet clear which elements will be fixable and in what timescale, or which will be a disproportionate burden. This statement will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect the outcomes of the review.

Our wider website estate, with over 1,000 websites and applications and managed by multiple people with varying skills, has not yet been fully reviewed. Nor has it been possible to roll out wider training.  We plan to tackle this and review our approach from August 2021, aiming to improve website governance, training and quality assurance.

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.

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.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 22 September 2020. It was last reviewed in February 2021. This website was last tested through August and September 2020. 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 10 pages using 10 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 10 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 between 14 September 2020 and 16 September 2020 at 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: – New Content Management System (CMS) and website design – New CMS and website design – legacy CMS and website design – legacy CMS and website design. We are planning to migrate to the new CMS by December 2020 – New CMS and website design – embedded form in legacy CMS and website design – New CMS and website design – New CMS and website design – New onsite search tool

We undertook in-house manual testing in August and September 2020 using a range of tools and assessing a mix of highly visited and important pages and our core components used across the website. We used 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) to review key student journeys across the University website, Virtual learning platforms, new student system and student services. We will focus on students who do not regularly use a mouse. This work commenced in September 2020.

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 alternative text. We plan to do this by July 2021.

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 are reviewing the results of our own and external accessibility audits from September 2020. We have scheduled in 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 Inclusion Task and Finish Group has been established and digital accessibility is within the remit of the group. We will consider how to get accessibility considered as part of quality assurance planning, procurement activity, activity planning and job descriptions.

Last update

This statement was last updated on 9 September 2021. We update this statement at least annually.

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.