Digital accessibility statement


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.

Our library database and online resources page provides information relating to accessibility of third party content. 


  • 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.
    • Not all of our pre-recorded videos 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.


  • If you can’t access parts of our websites, want to report accessibility problems, or need information in a different format:
    • ASK us online
    • call us – tel: +44(0)20 3907 0700
    • visit our Student Advice Service based in our main building on Torrington Square –  please see the College’s current status following COVID-19. 
  • 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.


  • 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).


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.


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


  • 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).
    • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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. 
    • 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.
    • We have created guidelines for staff and it is our intention that new PDFs or Office documents we publish should meet accessibility standards. 
  • Pre-recorded video
    • Recorded video streams don’t currently have subtitles or audio description. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.3 (Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded)).
    • The accessibility regulations don’t require us to add subtitles or audio descriptions to pre-recorded video published before 23 September 2020. For example, we don’t plan to add subtitles to lecture capture videos for academic years up to and including 2019-20.
  • Live video
    • Live video streams don’t have subtitles. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.4 (captions – live).
    • We don’t plan to add subtitles to all live video streams because live video is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations. We will, however, offer subtitles for live video streams where a particular need is identified.


This website was last tested on 22 September 2020. The test was carried out by Birkbeck staff using the Lighthouse developer tool provided by Google. 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 by students or are critical to joining Birkbeck’s community.

The outcomes of this round of testing follow:

  • Birkbeck home page:
    • No priority issues.
  • Student services landing page:
    • No priority issues, minor ARIA and label issues.
  • Prospectus request form:
    • No priority issues.
  • Applicant and student self-service system, ‘My Birkbeck’:
    • No priority issues.
  • A very commonly visited course listing page:
    • No priority issues, minor ARIA, label, heading hierarchy and list issues.
  • A sample Virtual Learning Environment course area (behind a log-in):
    • No priority issues, minor contrast issue.  
  • ASK query system for students:
    • No priority issues, minor ARIA 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 some 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, 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.


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 22 September 2020.