Important terms and definitions

Accessibility statement

You must, by law, publish an accessibility statement on your website, detailing how accessible the website is, any areas that are not, and what you are doing to improve it.

The statement, which must be provided in an accessible format, must include:

  • an explanation of those parts of the content that are not accessible and the reasons why
  • where appropriate, a description of any accessible alternatives provided
  • 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.

There is an Imperial College London accessibility statement template which you can use to create your statement. This template also includes guidance on filling out the various sections.

Accessibility tests

There are two types of tests available manual testing by experts or free automated 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.

Find out more about the automated tools available.

Archived website

Archived websites are exempt from accessibility compliance.

An archived website is a site that only contains content that is not needed for active administrative processes and has not been - and will not be - updated or edited after 23 September 2019.

For example, a website for a project that ended in 2015 may be considered an archive if it is only active for informational purposes and is no longer updated. Ideally, the website would clearly indicate that the project is no longer active.

In such cases it may be appropriate to remove the website from public view and create an offline archived version that can be shared with relevant project members.

Please contact ICT or your Faculty Web Officer to discuss decommissioning an old website, page or digital content.

Captions, transcripts and audio descriptions

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

Captions are text versions of the audio content and can be synchronised with the video. They are essential for ensuring your video is accessible to students, staff, and members of the public who have hearing impairments.

An audio description is additional narration added to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the main captions alone. If a video contains important visual elements that are not captured by audio captioning, an audio description is also required.

A transcript is the same word-for-word content as captions, but presented in a separate document, whether it is a text file, word processing document, PDF, or web page.

For further guidance on creating accessible video and audio content, see the web guide.

Disproportionate burden

All website managers must conduct an accessibility review and test their sites, the results of these tests will determine how much work is required to address and fix any accessibility issues for their site. If the impact of resolving issues to fully meet the accessibility requirement is too much for the site manager(s) to reasonably cope with, you may not be required to comply with the regulations as this creates a disproportionate burden.

When making your assessment of disproportionate burden, you need to think about:

  • Imperial's size and resources.
  • the nature of your content (for example, if you have digital content aimed at people who are likely to have a disability then this is a factor in favour of making necessary adjustments.)
  • The cost of making things accessible and the impact that would have on Imperial.
  • how much disabled users would benefit from you making things accessible.

For help conducting this assessment, please contact your Faculty Web Officer in the first instance.

If, following the assessment, you determine that compliance with the accessibility requirement would impose a disproportionate burden, you must:

  • explain in the relevant accessibility statement the parts of the accessibility requirement that could not be complied with; and
  • where appropriate, provide accessible alternatives held by Imperial that are not available on the website.

Also if you judge that meeting the regulations would be a disproportionate burden, under the Equality Act 2010 you’re still legally required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people when requested. This could include providing your digital content in an alternative, accessible format.

Intranets and extranets

Intranets and extranets are websites that are only available for a closed group of people and not to the general public.

Content on intranets and extranets – including text, images, and documents, etc. - originally published before 23 September 2019 is exempt from accessibility compliance, unless any major revisions are made to the intranet or extranet page after that date.

This could include a password protected webpage, content on a SharePoint site, course materials on a Blackboard course or a Panopto video.


'Your website'

A website you need to review and fix means any websites or applications commissioned by you, your department and that are not managed through one of the College’s centrally supported content management systems. These sites will require an accessibility statement.

This also inlcudes affiliated and partner sites. See the Imperial standards for affiliated sites.

This does not mean your sections of the main College website managed on T4. The main College content management systems (CMS) e.g. T4, News website, Events etc. have been tested by the Digital team in Communications and Public Affairs and are covered by the College’s main accessibility statement.

College supported website

College supported websites are managed or supported by ICT and/or the Digital team. This means that the sites will be audited, reviewed and a statement added where necessary. (Or ICT will contact you with guidance on what to do.)

If you are using a College supported CMS then you should still ensure the content you add is accessible by following our accessible content guidance.

Further help