Scope & Ownership

University of the West of Scotland (the "University", "us", "our" or "we") is committed to making our web presence as accessible as possible to ensure it is compliant with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG2.1).

The website referred to in this statement is our main public website ( ("the website", "our website", "this website", "the site"). We run a number of other publically available websites but these will have their own accessibility statements.

Our website was designed to comply with internationally accepted web standards and guidelines in order to make it as accessible to as many people as possible. A major exercise has been undertaken to align the website with the recently published WCAG2.1 (June 2018) guidelines and we are pleased that this work and the identification of the aspects of the site that were not yet fully accessible, with an associated timeline for action, ensure that the site is compliant with the latest legislation.

Accessibility and using the website

This website is based on the Umbraco CMS (version 7.15.2) with templated pages and reusable components to ensure a consistent user experience.

We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website. For example, where possible, we have endeavoured to make the content as clear and easy-to-understand as possible. However, we recognise that in some areas of the website, terminology may be more complex. This reflects the nature of the content particularly that associated with research activities, areas, themes within the University.

Where appropriate, we provide some hints and links in the sections below. Suggestions are offered in good faith for user convenience; but please note that plugins and software are used at your own risk. We are not responsible for any issues arising from the use of tools or plugins over which we have no influence or control. Although plugin suggestions are for Chrome, similar (and sometimes the same) plugins exist for other browsers.

The site has the following benefits for greatest possible accessibility:

Magnification & Reflow

Care has been taken to ensure that the site can be viewed at a magnification of 400% and that content reflows accordingly, across the website. The website responds well on desktop and on mobile to different size browsers. We have taken care to ensure that content is created and added according to responsive templates and reusable components. 

Navigation & Keyboard Accessibility

All webpages make use of the main navigation header. This groups menu items into three distinct groups of navigation links. Both menu and submenu items can be accessed easily by keyboard.

There are different ways to navigate the site. You can:

  • use the provided menu structures
  • search for content
  • use the breadcrumb trail to navigate back from a module

Our main website search and other searches across the website (Course/Staff/News/Events) have a consistent look and feel as well as operation. All searches work for keyboard-only users and focus states include search filters, where appropriate.

The website and the resources use header tags and labelled content regions to give pages a helpful information hierarchy. Users can benefit by:

  • using browser plugins like HeadingsMap to swiftly navigate a menu of headings
  • using screen reader functionality to browse by heading level

We have kept a consistent structure from page to page wherever appropriate and provide "Skip links" to allow repetitive navigable elements (e.g. the site menu) to be avoided.

All parts of the website, including menus and interactive resources can be navigated using a keyboard using keystrokes like Tab, Enter, Escape and the Arrow keys. The tab order is logical, and the currently focused item is highlighted for keyboard users.

Labelling makes it clear when sub-elements are available. Keyboard-only users are also able to cycle through the menus and close the main menu using the escape key.

Colour Contrast

Default colour contrasts meet accessibility guidelines. You can change the default background colours using browser plugins like HighContrast or ScreenShader.

Video & Multimedia Components

Autoplaying videos and carousels can be distracting; we ensure none of ours autoplay. Media can be controlled by either mouse or keyboard. All our videos since 2018 have high quality captioning. We have tried to ensure that all new videos have had captions added prior to loading to streaming services in order to make them as accessible as possible.


We have taken care to ensure that appropriate descriptions have been added to website content elements that display links such as Read more or Find out more across the site for users of assistive technologies. Call-to-action controls and link navigation allow contextual information to be used.

Website Images & Alt Text

We have ensured that all images across the site have been identified as either decorative or non-decorative and have alternative text descriptions according to their category.

Screenreader support

The website has labels and instructions built in to the various types of webpages as well as elements on webpages to assist visually imparied users understand the purpose and content therein. In addition, labels and instructions are built into the website outlining the necessary webpage and element controls concerning use and navigation.

All the documents in the Policies and Procedures pages have been improved and pass the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Accessibility Checker.

How accessible this website is

We continually review the accessibility of our website using the web governance platform, Siteimprove, for an automated accessibility review. This statement will be reviewed regularly to reflect the discovery/resolution of any accessibility issues. Currently, the following are being addressed may cause minor issue with some aspects accessibility:

Keyboard navigation on submenus

Pages with left hand navigation have no visual indicator when keyboard users have tabbed to them - see technical section for suggested solutions.

Inline Hyperlinks & Broken Links

Currently hyperlinks only use colour to differentiate from other text.

A minority of our hyperlinks have non-unique text such as 'Download' or 'Click Here'. This is covered in more detail in the technical section below.

Embedded Forms

Some of our embedded online forms may be difficult to complete when using a screen reader. We use external, third party platforms for embedding or linking to online forms on the website to gather appropriate data from users. Examples include:


Not all downloadable PDFs on the website are fully accessible yet, but we have prioritised the most critical documents, having fixed more that 200 PDFs, and a workflow is in progress fix any other documents published since Sept 2018 and not still used at the most current version .

Feedback & Contact Information

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

You can contact us if you have digital accessibility feedback, issues, questions, or comments relating to our website.

If you are reporting an accessibility issue, please let us know exactly (in as much detail as you can) what issues you are experiencing as this will help us help you. You can contact us if you:

  • have positive feedback on the accessibility considerations made
  • are experiencing issues with accessing information or using the website
  • find an accessibility problem not listed in this statement
  • need information on this website in a different format like accessible PDF or MS Word (please note that we cannot, at present, supply content in every format but will do our best to accommodate your needs)

Contact us by email

  • E-mail:
  • We aim to respond to your email in 21 working days

Contact us by post or visiting us in person

  • Postal address: Digital Marketing Team, Marketing & Student Recruitment, University of the West of Scotland, High Street, Paisley, PA1 2BE
  • We would normally aim to respond to your mail in 21 working days upon receipt. However, due to the global pandemic and the necessary remote working procedures that are now in place within the University, we are unable to respond by mail and are not working on campus. We recommend using email for contacting us for the foreseeable future


Enforcement procedure

We aim to meet the needs of all our website users as best we can. 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 satisfied with our response and would like to make a complaint, please check our complaints procedure. 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

University of the West of Scotland is committed to making this 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 2.1 (WCAG2.1) - AA standard, due to the non-compliances and exemptions listed below.

Non-accessible content

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

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Keyboard navigation on submenus

Pages with left hand navigation can be tabs logically, but currently have no visual indicator when keyboard users have tabbed to them. Until this is fixed, browser plug-ins like Focus Indicator for Chrome can help make the current focus visible and will make the page easy to navigate without a mouse. This currently fails success criteria 2.4.7 (focus visible). We plan to fix this by 31 January 2020.

Embedded Forms

Some of our embedded online forms may be difficult to complete when using a screen reader. Our forms are hosted by 3rd party solution providers and incorporated onto webpages as appropriate. We cannot fix these issues directly. In the meantime if you require a specific form please contact and request an accessible alternative version.

In addition our course search form in the Study section of the mega-navigation menu fails success criteria 4.1.1 (Parsing) Element ID is Not Unique. We plan to fix this by January 2021.

Search filters

Search filters are located on the website for: Event / News / Undergraduate Search / Postgraduate Search / Staff Directory filtering for your convenience. They fail success criteria 3.2.2 (On Input) for missing buttons and 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships) where filter options are not grouped. We plan to fix this by January 2021.

Inline Hyperlinks & Broken Links

Pages currently include hyperlinks that are identified only by colour – these can be difficult to see for people with colour vision difficulties. This fails success criteria 1.4.1 (Use of Colour). Whilst we’re working on rectifying this issue, you might find a tool like A+ FontSize Changer Lite helpful – it can automatically underline all hyperlinks on a page. We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.

We have taken care to ensure that descriptions for screen reader users have been added to elements that display links such as Read more or Find out more across the site for users of assistive technologies. However, there are other instances on the site hyperlink text is non-unique (eg Click here). We are working through the site to identify these and reformat the content concerned to try to eradicate this potential source of confusion for users of assistive technologies. This fails success criteria 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context)). We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.

Some website content use same link name for links going to different destinations. These fail success criteria 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context) Link text used for multiple different destinations. We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.


Not all downloadable PDFs on the website are fully accessible. There are approximately 100 PDFs on this website which are not exempt from the regulations but which do not currently fully comply with them. A workflow is in progress to fix these. These PDFs contain machine readable content, but have a number of additional issues to raise their accessibility up to the required standards. These PDFs typically fail accessibility guidelines on combinations of the following success criteria:

  • 1.1.1 (Non-text Content), where the PDFs contain images which do not have alternative text specified
  • 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) and 2.4.6 (headings and labels), where the PDFs do not have tagged heading structures or table elements properly defined
  • 1.3.2 (Meaningful Sequence), where the text in PDFs has been created using floating text boxes (e.g. using desktop publishing software) or no reading order has been specified, tab order has not been set, or incorporate lists throughout
  • 1.4.3 (Contrast (Minimum)), where text may have been created in a colour which does not contrast enough with its background colour
  • 2.4.2 (Page Titled), where this is not yet set or does not sufficiently describe the or content of the PDF
  • 2.4.6 (Headings and Labels) and 2.4.10 (Section Headings), where PDFs have been created without bookmarks
  • 3.1.1 (Language of Page), where PDFs do not have a language specified in them – please read all such PDFs as UK English

There may also be a very small number of PDFs which currently fail success criterion 1.4.5 (Images of Text), where they contain scanned text which may not have been converted to computer-readable text. We plan to complete this by 31 January 2021.

Virtual tours

These are not currently keyboard accessible. This fails success criteria 2.1.1 (Keyboard). The virtual tour function was developed by a 3rd party. We cannot fix this (see Disproportionate Burden section below) but sighted keyboard users may find switching on Windows Mouse Keys in the Ease of access panel could help.

In addition, our videos which collectively form the virtual tours, sit on webpages that fail accessibility criteria 3.1.1 (Language of Page) and 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships) - No Top-level Heading on the Page. See Disproportionate Burden section below.


A small number of webpages are reporting WAI-ARIA errors where a non unique ID has been used. These fail success criteria: 1.1.1 (Non-text Content), 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships), 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context), 3.3.2 (Labels or Instructions), and 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value) "Aria-describedby" has incorrect (ID) reference. We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.


A small number of our undergraduate course webpages generate accessibility warnings in relation to landmarks with identical names. These fail success criteria 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value) Landmarks with identical names. We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.

Search listings

Our five search listing pages (Undergraduate Courses / Postgraduate Courses / News / Events / Staff Directory) have missing WAI-ARIA states/properties in their filters. These fail success criteria 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value) Missing required WAI-ARIA states or properties. We plan to fix this by 31 January 2021.

Skip to repeated content

The website currently does not allow users to skip some of the repeated content. This fails success criteria 2.4.1 (No Option to Skip Content). Although we rectified this prior to the deadline, a recent code deployment has corrupted this feature. We plan to rectify this by 30 November 2020.

Disproportionate burden

Personalised Version of the 2021 Digital Undergraduate Prospectus

A fully accessible version (passed Adobe Acrobat Pro DC’s accessibility checker) of the 2021 undergraduate digital prospectus is available for all users to download.

Download Digital Prospectus

The option to create a personalised version of the undergraduate digital prospectus has been created this year. Personalised versions are built with a PDF rendering engine supplied by a 3rd party. Despite the fact that all PDFs supplied to the 3rd party by the University pass accessibility checks, their rendering engine does not retain essential PDF accessibility features.

The 3rd party supplier of the personalised digital prospectus solution has indicated that as of September 2020, a new PDF rendering engine will be developed and that this will retain PDF accessibility features. However, they have not provided a delivery date for this new platform. This rendering engine is used by multiple universities to create downloadable prospectuses, so the supplier is seeking a solution that can be shared across all clients. A custom solution for the University was estimated to cost the University £60,000 which is a disproportionate burden at this time.

Virtual Tours

Our 360° virtual tours are not keyboard accessible, neither are they accessible to blind users. The latter would be extremely difficult to achieve technically. The former should be possible, and we are actively exploring more accessible interfaces.

In the meantime, we believe that the benefits of this partially accessible content for disabled people with mobility issues or anxiety issues outweigh the disadvantages and we offer 1:1 orientation training to blind students as part of our normal support.

Web Engagement Forms

We use 3rd party platforms for all our enquiry and lead generating forms. At present, although these platforms have some support for screen readers, they are not fully accessible. For example, some input fields and select boxes have no built-in descriptions. These may fail a number of success criteria including: 1.3.1 (Info & Relationships), 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value).

We cannot fix these issues directly but we are in discussions with our suppliers with respect to their platform development roadmaps in relation to accessibility compliance.

In the meantime, if there are any forms that you need in another format, please contact and request an accessible MS Word version.

Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

  • Some videos published before 23 Sept 2020 may not have captioning.
  • Live streamed events which are linked to from the website will not have captions.
    Office file formats* published before 23 September 2018, unless they are active and necessary to tasks that we are performing.
  • PDFs before 2018 and archive PDFs (documents which are out of date and replaced with newer version but still published for archive purposes.).

* the term "office file formats" refers to a document in a format that is not intended primarily for use on the web but is included in web pages, e.g. Adobe Portable Document Format, Microsoft Office documents or their open-source equivalents.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

We have undertaken a manual digital accessibility assessments of the website. In addition, we undertake regular automated digital accessibility assessments of the website.

The results of both assessments informed the identification of coding enhancements on the website which addressed many of the accessibility issues identified therein. The necessary coding alterations were implemented in September 2020.

This statement was prepared on 22 September 2020. It was last reviewed on 22 September 2020.The website was last manually tested in September 2020 and undergoes automatic testing every 5 days. The manual test was carried out by AbilityNet Ltd.

See the details of assessments undertaken below:

Manual Digital Accessibility Assessment

The manual digital accessibility assessment of the website was undertaken between 23/09/2020 and 25/09/2020. Assessment was carried out using a variety of tools, including assistive technologies such as the NVDA screen reader. It was carried out by AbilityNet Ltd.

This website is built on the Umbraco CMS (version 7.15.2) with templated pages and reusable components. The assessment focused 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 legislation and guidelines. 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 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.

Pages assessed:

Automated Digital Accessibility Assessment

The website is also assessed using a sector-leading, automated website governance platform to identify website errors, warnings - Siteimprove.

Using the Siteimprove platform, an automated digital accessibility review of the website is undertaken every 5 days.

Last Updated

This statement was prepared on 22 September 2020. It was last reviewed on 22 September 2020. We update this statement at least annually and will next review it in March 2021.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We are committed to ensuring that our website is accessible to all. This requires regular and ongoing website accessibility monitoring and improvement activities. To assist in these activities, we have embraced a sector-leading web governance platform - Siteimprove.

We are also committed to ensuring that digital accessibility is embedded in the digital creation process and this entails a programme of staff training in a variety of areas of digital accessibility from understanding WCAG 2.1 through to creating accessible documents with Adobe InDesign depending upon roles.

Last updated: 22/09/2020