Imperial standards for digital accessibility

Accessibility is not just about disability; it is about universality and inclusivity.

Everyone who uses the web should get the same information be that from a webpage, a document, online course or a video - that is why we aim to meet WCAG 2.2AA compliance as we are obliged to complly with the Accessibility Regulations 2018.

We are not doing this to just meet these legal requirements, but because we would like to.

These standards will ensure that you are providing the best experience for all your students, staff and visitors and will help you with creating accessible digital content for all.

The College’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy commits us to providing an inclusive environment for work and study; to do that effectively we need to identify and remove barriers to information. 

Follow these standards to ensure your websites and content are accessible:


You must provide an accessible alternative way of presenting the information in a video.

Videos published before 23 September 2020 are exempt from the accessibility regulations. However, it is advisable that any videos created before this date that are viewed heavily, promoted in marketing campaigns or popular on social media sites should have a text alternative provided, even if this means post-editing.

Video captions

Captions are a great alternative way of presenting the information in a video.  

Most captions are automatically generated by the video player (e.g. YouTube) or supporting software during or after the video has broadcast so you should check them after the video has been recorded and correct any mistakes with the subject matter expert.

Auto captions are not 100% accurate so there is no guarantee that the same information is being relayed back to your audience. It is very important as content creators to check and edit the captions or provide transcripts to ensure accuracy, especially for course materials.

Live videos

It is advisable, when the systems allow, that live video or audio have text alternatives provided.

(Although live videos are exempt from the Accessibility Regulations.)

Teaching and learning videos

Read this page on the Imperial digital accessibility standards for online teaching and learning videos, like online lectures.


Any new published documents and documents that users need to download or fill in to access services that Imperial provides should be fully accessible.

It is best practice and an Imperial standard that any old documents on websites or intranets that are still heavily used should be made accessible even if they are exempt from the Accessibility Regulations.

Website documents which were published before 23 September 2018 are exempt unless such documents are needed for active administrative processes relating to the tasks performed by Imperial (such as a form for students to fill out for Imperial to provide a service).

Find out about making accessible documents.

Intranets and extranets

If you manage intranet content that was published before 23 September 2018 it does not need to comply with the Accessibility Regulations unless any major revisions are made to the intranet page after that date.

If the content is still heavily used by your audiences, audiences or if you do make any substantial revisions to the intranet content you manage, Imperial expects content owners to ensure accessibility compliance.

Password protected pages on the College’s Content Management System - t4 are expected to comply with the Accessibility Regulations.

Read the glossary page for a definition of intranet and extranet.

Working with external partners / affiliations

All Digital platforms, including (websites and apps) that are hosted or supported by the College must comply.

Digital platforms, including (websites and apps) that are not hosted or supported by the College, but that meet all the affiliation criteria must also comply:

  • The website is managed by College staff and
  • The website uses the College branding i.e. logos / the College name and
  • The website has contact details for staff in an official capacity i.e. Imperial email address

If you work with a team that has a digital platform/solution where the Imperial logo or name is use, please contact the site owner to highlight our Imperial standards for digital accessibility.

Affiliated sites also include any personal web pages that are not hosted on the College PWP platform. If you own a personal webpage outside of College PWP please ensure you do an accessibility review and add an accessibility statement to your site. You must also update the content in line with Imperial’s accessibility guidance.

The legislation applies to all public-sector body websites/apps/digital solutions regardless of where they’re hosted, therefore it is an Imperial standard for any website that is co-managed by Imperial and external partners, for the Imperial content owner to conduct an accessibility review of the website and make best efforts to ensure content is inclusive and accessible for the widest possible audience.

As a general rule, Imperial will be legally responsible for websites meeting accessibility requirements, even if the management is outsourced to a third party supplier or external partner. If you are responsible for any website/app/digital solution that is outsourced to a supplier, you’ll need to work together to make sure your website meets the Accessibility Regulations (to the extent that these changes would not be a disproportionate burden).

The only exception to this would be if the third-party content is neither funded by nor developed or under the control of anyone from Imperial.

Accessible content

If you publish content on any of the College's websites or other online platforms then you have an important role in ensuring you provide accessible content, meaning it can be used and interpreted by everyone that accesses it. It is very easy to make some small changes that will really help your audiences, and it will mean they come back to your website again and again.
Here are some great ‘how to guides’ on meeting the standards expected for making your digital content accessible:

Further help

If you, your team, or your suppliers manage a College website or mobile app you have legal duty and organisational responsibility to ensure these meet certain standards. This page has some information and resources that you can use to get started in meeting our accessibility standards and improving the digital experience for all our users.

Public sector accessibility regulations

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 means that we also have a legal duty to meet certain accessibility standards. The best way of doing this is to check how far your website or app currently meets the WCAG 2.2 AA standard. Then, make a plan to fix the problems you’ve found.

What you need to do:

When you need to do this:

  • For new websites, or websites created after September 2018 you need to act now. All websites published after 22 September 2018 need to comply with the regulations by September 2019
  • For websites created before September 2018 you have until September 2020 to comply with the regulations.
  • For all mobile applications you have until June 2021 to comply with the regulations.

Detailed guidance

The Government Digital Service have published further information on Understanding new accessibility requirements for public sector bodies  and a sample accessibility statement you can use.

Accessibility statements

One of the requirements for the public sector accessibility regulations is that you must add a web accessibility statement to your site, detailing how accessible the site is, any areas that are not, and what you are doing to improve it. The statement should include a contact for anyone who wants to lodge a complaint or request an accessible version of any content and/or request an alternative way to access the service.

Please contact for an up to date compliant statement template

Accessibility testing

Expert testing

The College’s ICT Division provides an accessibility review service which commissions a specialist accessibility testing agency to carry out full in person assessments of websites and apps. This is an essential service to use for in-depth assessments of websites and apps, as well as new suppliers and products. There is a charge for this service.

Expert accessibility testing is available on request through the Ask website.

Automated testing

There are many free tools that can help you assess how accessible your website is. These are great for quickly and cheaply assessing your sites

Automated testing cannot replace the in-depth testing carried out by an expert. We recommend using these tools for initial assessments and using the expert testing provided by ICT when you are sure your website meets the required standards, when you are launching new sites, or for assessing new suppliers and products.

WAVE Browser Extensions

The WAVE Chrome and Firefox extensions allows you to evaluate web content for accessibility issues directly within Chrome and Firefox browsers.


For a quick check of your site Lighthouse is a tool for identifying problems with your site and is built into the Chrome browser.

Accessibility insights

This is a more detailed checker which runs as an extension for Chrome or standalone Windows app.

The A11Y Project

This is a nice overview of the kinds of accessibility tests available, and why they are important.

Useful links

Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

College website accessibility statement

Creating accessible content guidance

Government Digital Service accessibility blog

Microsoft’s inclusive design website