Accessibility statement for Student Loans Company Limited
This website is run by Student Loans Company Limited (SLC) on behalf of UK Government Digital Services. It is designed to be used by as many people as possible. 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’ve 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.
How accessible this website is
We know some parts of this website are not fully accessible:
- some older documents are in PDF format and are not fully accessible to screen reader software
- some documents in PDF format are not fully editable
- some images do not have clear and descriptive alternative text
- some widgets do not have hyperlinks or descriptive labels
- some HTML tags do not have correct language attribute
- some heading elements are not consistent
- some features of the website is not compatible with all web browsers
What to do if you cannot access parts of this website
If you need any of our letters, forms or guides sent to you in Braille or large print, email firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- your address
- your Customer Reference Number
- what you need changing into Braille or large print
- for large print, include the font size and the font type you need
If there are any other parts of our website which you cannot access, please let us know by contacting us at email@example.com.
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.
Our offices have audio induction loops for those with difficulty hearing and are visiting our offices in person. Or, if you contact us before your visit, we can arrange a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.
Find out how to contact us at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/student-loans-company.
Technical information about this website’s accessibility
The Student Loans Company is committed to making its websites accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (‘the Accessibility Regulations’).
This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 (‘WCAG 2.1’) AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.
Non accessible content
The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.
Non compliance with the Accessibility Regulations
Widgets and labels
Some widgets do not have descriptive labels and/or instructions that identify the expected input. This means it is not clear what’s expected of the user or where the widget will take them, particularly when using assistive technologies such as screen readers. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion:
- 1.3.1 (info and relationships)
- 3.2.2 (on input)
- 2.4.4 (link purpose (in context))
- 3.2.3 (consistent navigation)
- 3.2.4 (consistent identification)
We plan to add descriptive labels to all widgets and hyperlinks by September 2020. When new content is published in the meantime, we’ll make sure our use of widgets and hyperlink text meets AA accessibility standards.
Additionally, some widgets are not clearly marked as active, disabled or read-only, so it’s not clear whether users can interact with them. Some error messages also are not descriptive and do not provide examples of what’s expected when input errors are detected.
Users of assistive technology must be aware of dynamic text changes and form error states. Therefore, error messages must be descriptive and cues around required/non-required fields are provided programmatically and not just visually. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion:
- 4.1.2 (name, role, value)
- 4.1.3 (status messages)
- 3.3.1 (error identification)
We plan to implement HTML notifying users when input errors are detected, along with providing more descriptive error states and using auto-complete attributes by September 2020.
Some of the background and foreground contrasts within the site do not meet the required guidelines as they are more challenging to read. This does not meet WCAG success criterion 1.4.3 (contrast minimum) and we plan to address this by September 2020.
Images and non-text content
Some images do not have a text alternative, so the information in them is not available to people using a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
We plan to add text alternatives for all images by September 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of images meets AA accessibility standards.
Information callouts at the bottom of some pages are only provided visually, meaning they’re hidden to screen readers and therefore not announced or conveyed to the user. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).
We plan to add relevant HTML tags and avoid the use of hidden attributes to rectify this issue by September 2020. When new content is published, we’ll make sure our HTML meets AA accessibility standards.
In some instances where Welsh language is selected, the text on the screen will switch to Welsh, but a screen reader will convey it to the user in English. This is because the page’s HTML tag does not have the correct language attribute.
The links to change the language to Welsh and back to English do not have the correct language attribute meaning it will not be read correctly by a screen reader.
Both issues mean the website does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.1.1 (language of a page) and 3.1.2 (language of parts). We plan to implement the correct HTML language attributes by September 2020.
We also recognise that headers are occasionally used incorrectly on this website. The function of a heading is to label a section of content but instead they’re often used as a way to style content. This results in a disjointed flow in the content when it’s accessed using a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion:
- 2.4.6 (headings and labels)
- 1.3.1 (info and relationships)
- 4.1.3 (status messages)
We plan to address these issues by September 2020 so that headings are only used when they’re labelling a section of content. Any content that’s published between now and September 2020 will also be built in this way.
This website also does not always use auto-complete attributes, which means that screen readers cannot provide adequate information to the user regarding form field interaction requirements. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.5 (allow users to auto input personal information). We will include the use of correct auto-complete attributes in all forms by September 2020.
Navigation and accessing information
We do not always provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are on this website. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 2.4.3 (focus order) and 2.4.4 (link purpose). We‘ll provide navigation landmarks and descriptive links to aid navigation by September 2020.
We recognise that some of the website does not allow text to be resized up to 400%. This can cause loss of content, functionality and excessive white space without the aid of assistive technology. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion:
- 1.3.1 (info and relationships)
- 1.4.4 (resize text)
- 1.4.10 (reflow)
We’ll provide functionality so that all text can be resized up to 400% by September 2020.
Some features of the website are not compatible with all web browser types. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 criterion 2.1.1 (keyboard). We plan to ensure that our content is available on all browsers by September 2020.
We’re aware that some PDFs are not fully editable and the reading order when accessed using a screen reader differs from the visual reading order. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.7 (users are required to download and complete a PDF). We‘ll provide either fully editable PDFs with a consistent reading order or digital HTML forms to replace all PDFs by September 2020.
Content that’s not within the scope of the Accessibility Regulations
PDFs and other documents
The Accessibility Regulations (opens in a new tab) do not require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.
Many of our older PDFs and Word documents do not meet AA accessibility standards - for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role value).
Some of our PDFs and Word 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 Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages.
Any PDFs or Word documents we publish from September 2019 will meet accessibility standards.
How we tested this website
The last test on this website was run in May 2020. The test was carried out by User Vision. We have tested our customer account management areas, available at the following links:
- Student Finance England online account
- Student Finance Wales online account
- Student Finance Northern Ireland online account
Reporting accessibility problems with this website
We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems that are not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (‘the Accessibility Regulations’). If you’re not happy with how the Student Loans Company respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Services (EASS), or the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) if you live in Northern Ireland.
What we’re doing to improve accessibility
We plan to identify and fix issues according to the timescales shown for each area above.
This statement was last updated on 13 May 2020 and published on 20 May 2020.