Accessibility statement for Student Loans Company Limited

This website is run by Wider Plan Ltd and the 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 tried to make 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 Student Loans Company 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 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, links and labels

Some widgets do not have descriptive labels, field sets, legends and/or instructions that identify the expected input or the result of user 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 Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context))
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 3.2.2 (On Input)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 4.1.3 (Status Messages)

We plan to add descriptive labels to all widgets and links 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.

There are inconsistencies in some widgets, links and messages both visually and in the HTML which could cause confusion. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AAA success criterion 2.1.3 (Keyboard (No Exception))
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 3.2.4 (Consistent Identification)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing)

We plan to ensure consistent design for elements throughout the site, not only visually but in the code 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 Notifications, form error states and error messages, these must be descriptive and cues around required/non-required fields must be provided programmatically and not visually. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 3.3.1 (Error Identification)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 3.3.2 (Labels or Instructions)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value)

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.

The reading order or the focus of interactive elements in forms is incorrect at times, causing navigations issues. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.3.2 (Meaningful Sequence)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.3 (Focus Order)

We plan to correct the order and focus of these elements by September 2020. In the meantime any new content will meet AA accessibility standards for the order and sequence of focus.

We currently do not allow users to adjust or extend time limits for periods of inactivity set for security purposes. This does not meet:

  • • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.2.1 (Timing Adjustable)

We plan to allow adjustment of these time limits by September 2020.

Interactive fields within forms are not always correctly grouped meaning users can struggle to identify the correct answer field with the relevant question. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 3.3.2 (Labels or Instructions)

We plan to correct the order and focus of these elements by September 2020. In the meantime any new content will meet AA accessibility standards.

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 Level A success criterion 1.1.1 (Non-Text Content)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.5 (Image of Text)

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. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context))

Some icons used give inconsistent or incorrect instructions when used with a screen reader. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 3.3.2 (Labels or Instructions)

We plan to replace these icons by September 2020. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of icons meets AA accessibility standards.

At times we use colour to communicate information. This can cause issues for users with visual difficulties or who are colour blind. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.4.1 (Use of colour)

We plan to update areas where we currently use colour as the only method of conveying information with additional alternatives by September 2020. In the meantime any new content added to the site will not rely on colour as the sole method of conveying information.

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.

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 Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 2.4.6 (Headings and Labels)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 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 Level AA success criterion 1.3.5 (Identify Input Purpose)

We will include the use of correct auto-complete attributes in all forms by September 2020.

There are inconsistencies and within the HTML used throughout the site which can result in confusion and miscommunication. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing)

We plan to correct the inconsistent usage of HTML across the site by September 2020. In the meantime any new pages or content added to the site will use consistent HTML to meet meets AA accessibility standards.

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 Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.1 (Bypass Blocks)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.3 (Focus Order)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context))

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 200% or higher with no loss of content or functionality without the aid of assistive technology. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.4 (Resize Text)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.10 (Reflow)

We’ll provide functionality so that all text can be resized up to 200% or higher by September 2020.

Some tables used to display information do not have the correct formatting resulting in issues for users of screen readers. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 2.4.6 (Headings and Labels)

We plan to correct the formatting used across all table data by September 2020. Any new information held in tables created will be created using the correct formatting at the time of publishing.

There are inconsistencies in the style and messaging used across the site. This can create problems for the user in understanding what is expected of them. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 3.2.4 (Consistent Identification)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 4.1.3 (Status Messages)

We plan to correct the inconsistencies in style and messaging across the site by September 2020. In the meantime any new pages or content will meet AA accessibility standards in terms of style and messaging.

Some elements used on the site do not meet the required colour contrast specifications. This can make information or navigation difficult. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.3 (Contrast (Minimum))
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.11 (Non-text Contrast)

We plan to correct the colour contrast used across the site to meet the required specification. In the meantime any new elements will meet the requirements for AA accessibility standards.

The language used in page content, links and page titles is, in places, ambiguous, inadequate or not easily understood. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level A success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships)
  • WCAG Level A success criterion 2.4.4 (Link Purpose (In Context))
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 2.4.6 (Headings and Labels)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation)

Mobile use

Some information and elements do not render correctly or are obscured when accessing the site on a mobile device. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 1.4.10 (Reflow)
  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing)

We plan to correct these issues by September 2020. In the meantime any new content will be designed to display correctly across devices to meet AA accessibility standards.

Browser compatibility

Content is not consistent across multiple browsers, meaning that the information and services a user can access can be restricted by their choice of internet browser. This does not meet:

  • WCAG Level AA success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing)

We plan to make sure that users are able to access the same level of service and information offered on the site, regardless of their browser choice by September 2020.

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 the Childcare Grant Payment Service online account, available at the following links:

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