Accessibility statement for the British Library websites

We want as many people as possible to be able to use our websites. The following statement includes information on scope, compliance and what to do if you cannot access parts of these websites.

This page is about the accessibility of our websites. See our visitor information pages for accessibility at the British Library's buildings.

Introduction

We want as many people as possible to be able to use these websites. For example, that means you should be able to:

  • change contrast levels and fonts
  • zoom in up to 200% 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’ve also made the website text as simple as possible to understand.

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

Scope

The British Library is committed to making its websites accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The British Library operates a number of websites, subsites, and online services (“Sites”).

This accessibility statement applies to the following Sites:

The Library’s other Sites will not be covered by the Public Sector Bodies (Website and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations until 23 September 2020. Our other Sites will be included in this Statement when they are brought into compliance with this regulation.

How accessible these websites are

We know some parts of these Sites are not fully accessible:

About Us

  • Most older PDF documents are not fully accessible to screen reader software

Discovering Sacred Texts

  • The same link text is used for links going to different destinations and is not distinguished by Aria-label.

Living with Machines

  • Non text content does not have a text alternative that serves an equivalent purpose
  • In some cases, images of text are used to convey information

UK Web Archive

  • Some elements can’t be accessed using keyboard alone.
  • Some elements, for example, headings, radio buttons or tooltips are not declared programmatically so not accessible to assistive technologies such as screen readers.
  • Some labels or instructions for user input, for example the search function and completion of forms are not declared programmatically so not accessible to assistive technologies such as screen readers.
  • The text in some areas of the website does not meet contrast requirements.
  • The archived website content delivered by this website is outside the control of the British Library. Users may experience difficulties accessing this content.

What to do if you cannot access parts of these websites

If you need information on this website in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille:

  • Email: FOI-Enquiries@bl.uk
  • Phone: 01937 546 060 (Customer Services)
  • Write to: Corporate Information Unit, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

We’ll consider your request and get back to you within 20 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with these websites

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact the Head of Corporate Information Management by email at FOI-Enquiries@bl.uk, or in writing at Corporate Information Unit, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB.

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, please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person

We provide a text relay service for people who are D/deaf, hearing impaired or have a speech impediment: Textphone 01937 546 434.

Hearing induction loops are fitted at all Library Information and Enquiry Desks, or if you contact us before your visit we may be able to arrange a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

Compliance status

About Us

This website is fully compliant with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Discovering Sacred Texts

This website is partially compliant with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Living with Machines

This website is partially compliant with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Shop

This website is fully compliant with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

UK Web Archive

This website is not compliant with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. The non-compliances and the exemptions are listed below.

Non-accessible content

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

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Discovering Sacred Texts

  • The same link text is used for links going to different destinations and are not distinguished by Aria-labels, meaning that users of assistive technologies or with cognitive difficulties may not be able to distinguish the different destinations. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4 (link purpose in context). We plan to resolve this by adding Aria-labels for all template links by January 2020. When we create new templates we will ensure this functionality is included by default.

Living with Machines

  • Some images do not have a text alternative, or use generic placeholder script, so users of screen readers cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content). We plan to add text alternatives for all images by January 2020. When we publish new content we will make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.
  • In some cases, images of text are used to convey information, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.5 (images of text). We plan to separate information and structure from presentation to enable different presentations of the information by January 2020. When we publish new content we will make sure that we provide a text alternative in order to present the information in other ways.

UK Web Archive

  • Checkboxes and radio buttons are not semantically grouped using fieldset, meaning that screen reader users may not be able to easily identify the purpose and relationships between the input and label. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships). We will ensure related input controls are semantically grouped so that assistive technologies can recognise the relationship of the elements by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of input controls meets accessibility standards.
  • Heading elements are declared on most pages beginning with a heading level 2. Screen reader users may rely on the presence of a heading level 1 element on a page for orientation purposes. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships). We will ensure heading elements begin with a heading level 1 by January 2020.  When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of heading elements meets accessibility standards.
  • Input purpose is not identified on the form input element. This means that assistive technologies cannot programmatically determine the purpose of the input, and that form fields may be autocompleted with incorrect information. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 1.3.5 (identify input purpose). We will provide the autocomplete property to allow assistive technologies to present common values by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of input purposes meets accessibility standards.
  • The faint text colour used throughout the site may affect users with sight impairment. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 1.4.3 (contrast minimum). We will use a darker shade for the text to achieve higher contrast by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure a minimum contrast ration of 4.5:1 applied. 
  • Left navigation disappears when zoomed at 400%, meaning that users may not be able to access the filter functionality as a result. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 1.4.10 (reflow). We will ensure there is no loss of features when the page is zoomed up to 400%. When we publish new content we’ll make sure there is no loss of features when the page is zoomed up to 400%.
  • Interactive elements are not focusable to keyboard. The “X” clear filter button and previous page button do not receive keyboard focus when viewed on the desktop browser. Keyboard users are not able to activate the button element. While the element can be accessed using the screen reader arrow keys there is no announcement of the label or role available. The button element is also not responding when activated using a screen reader. As a result users dependent on a keyboard and non-sighted users may not be able to interact with the element. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 2.1.1 (keyboard). We will ensure that all interactive elements available to a mouse pointer are also available to the keyboard keys by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of interactive elements meets accessibility standards.
  • When keyboard and screen reader users tab onto the custom tooltip on the filter panel focus is trapped. As a result screen reader and keyboard users are not able to navigate the contents within the page without using mouse interaction. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 2.1.2 (no keyboard trap). We will ensure that focus is not trapped onto the tooltip by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of interactive elements meets accessibility standards.
  • Text in a foreign language other than the primary language of the document is not marked with an appropriate language code, meaning that screen readers might attempt to use an incorrect language to read content. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 3.1.2 (language of parts). We will provide a lang attribute with the appropriate language code to elements containing foreign language by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure we declare foreign language text appropriately.
  • When the search button is activated an overlay is presented while the keyboard focus is lost. Once the progress overlay is completed focus is reset to the top of the page. Non-sighted users may not be aware of the changes on screen and this may cause disorientation. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 3.2.2 (on input). We will provide a screen reader only text to communicate the overlay behaviour to screen reader users by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of interaction with controls meets accessibility standards.
  • The date format for form input elements is presented via the placeholder text which is not announced by screen readers, meaning that screen reader users may not be aware of the valid format for the input fields. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 3.3.2 (labels or instructions). We will ensure the date format is made visible next to the label instead of appearing as a placeholder which will ensure the label is announced by screen readers by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of labels meets accessibility standards.
  • Custom radio buttons are not semantically declared with appropriate role, name and state, meaning that screen reader users may not be able to perceive the purpose and recognise the behaviour of the controls. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.2 (name, role, value). We will use native HTML radio elements to ensure full accessibility support by all browsers and assistive technologies by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of radio buttons meets accessibility standards.
  • Custom checkboxes are not semantically declared with appropriate role, name and state, meaning that screen reader users may not be able to perceive the purpose and recognise the behaviour of the controls. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.2 (name, role, value).We will use native HTML checkbox elements to ensure full accessibility support by all browsers and assistive technologies by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of custom check boxes meets accessibility standards.
  • The tooltip buttons on the filter panel can be focussed and activated using a keyboard only however there are issues with the tooltip control when accessing it with a screen reader turned on: it is not declared with the correct state and the tooltip text is not announced by the screen reader. Screen reader users therefore may not hear the label of the button and the tooltip text. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.2 (name, role, value). We will ensure the tooltip is properly declared by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of tooltips meets accessibility standards.
  • Breadcrumb control is not programmatically determined meaning screen readers do not announce it as a breadcrumb region. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.2 (name, role, value). We will ensure that the breadcrumb region of the website is programmatically declared by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of breadcrumb trails meets accessibility standards.
  • When the search button is activated, an overlay is presented but the search progress status is not announced by the screen reader. Non-sighted users may not be aware of the changes on screen and this may cause disorientation. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.3 (status messages). We will ensure the search progress message is announced by the screen reader by January 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of status messages meets accessibility standards.

Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

Living with Machines

  • Parsing errors are present across the website, meaning that it may not be correctly interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This fails WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criterion 4.1.1 (parsing). These errors are inserted by known issues with WordPress, such as conflicts with the Grammarly Chrome plugin extension. As these issues are caused by third party software that is neither funded nor developed by nor under the control of the Library, they are exempt from the Regulations under Reg 3(2)(e).

UK Web Archive

  • The archival content delivered by the UK Web Archive is exempt from the Regulations under Reg 3(2)(h). This content might fail any of the WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criteria.

How we tested these websites

About Us

This website was last tested on 16 September 2019. A full review of the site was carried out by the British Library using SiteImprove.

Discovering Sacred Texts

This website was last tested on 23 September 2019. A full review of the site was carried out by the British Library using SiteImprove.

Living with Machines

This website was last tested on 17 September 2019. A full review of the site was carried out via code review by Bond & Coyne.

Shop

This website was last tested on 08 November 2019. A full review of the site was carried out by Smart Cookie Ltd. using Google Lighthouse, and a representative sample of the site was validated by the British Library using Wave.

UK Web Archive

This website was last tested on 05 September 2019. A representative sample of the site was reviewed by AbilityNet, using a suite of modern accessibility tools including Screen Readers (Desktop JAWS 2018 / IE11), the web accessibility toolbar, colour contrast analysers, and website validation tools.

Preparation of this accessibility statement

This statement was prepared on 17 September 2019. It was last updated on 08 November 2019.