Accessibility statement for Student Loans Company Limited

This website is run by Student Loans Company Limited (“SLC”) on behalf of UK Government Digital Services. SLC is fully committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability. We’re actively working to increase the accessibility and usability of our website and in doing so adhere to many of the available standards and guidelines. We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website. 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’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.

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 brailleandlargefonts@slc.co.uk 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 accessibility@slc.co.uk.

Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person

We provide a text relay service for people who are unable to hear or speak on the phone.

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

SLC 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”).

We’re striving to fully adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 (“WCAG 2.1”) AA standards. We acknowledge that this website is currently only partially compliant with those standards. We’ve provided details below of current areas of non-compliance, and details of when we expect those areas to be made compliant.

Non accessible content

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), WCAG success criterion 3.2.2 (on input) and WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.3 (consistent navigation).

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.

To ensure users of assistive technology are aware of form error states, error messages must be descriptive and cues around required/non-required fields must be provided programmatically and not visually. This does not meet WCAG success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role, value), 3.3.1 (error identification) and 3.3.1 (errors need to be identified, available in text and be descriptive). We plan to implement HTML to notify users when input errors are detected, along with providing more descriptive error states and using auto-complete attributes, 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.

HTML

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. Additionally, 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 of these 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 and does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.6 (headings and labels), 1.3.1 (info and relationships) and 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.

Lastly, 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). We‘ll provide navigation landmarks and descriptive links to aid navigation by September 2020.

We recognise that this website also does not allow text to be resized up to 400% with no loss of content or functionality without the aid of assistive technology. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.10 (pages must resize without using content) and 1.4.4 (resize text). We’ll provide functionality so that all text can be resized up to 400% by September 2020.

PDFs

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 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 August 2019. The test was carried out by User Vision. We tested our customer account management areas, available at the following links:

This statement was prepared on the 10th of September 2019 and published on the 23rd of September 2019.

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: accessibility@slc.co.uk.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) is responsible for enforcing the Accessibility Regulations. If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (“EASS”) for advice and assistance.

If you’re based in Northern Ireland and are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, you can contact the Equalities Commission for Northern Ireland, instead of the EASS and EHRC.

This statement was prepared on the 10th of September 2019 and published on the 23rd of September 2019.