Digital learning accessibility statement


This statement applies to content published on our Digital Learning Environment (DLE) systems, including:

  • Blackboard – virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Panopto – event capture (Lecture Capture video/audio)
  • PebblePad – ePortfolio
  • Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive and Teams
  • Mentimeter – polling tool
  • Faculty, College and School – specific third-party systems and tools.

For other web addresses, you should refer to the accessibility statement for that domain or subdomain.

These websites are used by UWE Bristol but are designed and built by third-party companies. We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website. This 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 also made the website text as simple as possible to understand. There is advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability on the AbilityNet website.

Digital Learning Environment (DLE) content design helps you find, read and understand content. It is compatible with assistive technologies. Where possible, our DLE will meet the accessibility standards outlined in this statement.

There are instances where it does not meet those standards or it is not compatible with Assistive Technologies. We list these instances in this statement.

We recommend you use Google Chrome and/or Microsoft Edge browsers with our Digital Learning Environment (DLE).

Accessibility tools

There are customisation options for your browser (Chrome, Edge) and device (Windows 10 or Mac OS computer, iOS, Android tablets and phones).

These can help you use the tools that make up our DLE.

You can change:

  • colours
  • contrast levels (contrast between text and background)
  • text font styles (letter shapes)
  • magnify the page to 200% or more without the text spilling off the screen
  • turn on automatic speech recognition captions (video or audio with artificial intelligence (AI) generated captions).

AbilityNet has excellent My Computer My Way advice on making your device easier to use. 

Explore our Online Learning Skills web page for tools that can make your online experience better.

Explore the Assistive technology support support available at UWE Bristol.

Ally in Blackboard allows you to download some content types in alternative formats (for example, Microsoft Word to MP3 or EPUB).

UWE Bristol Library Services provide file conversion for students and staff with print disabilities via SensusAccess (MP3 audio, DAISY, DAISY Math, Braille, and e-books).

A print disability is a disability that makes it difficult, or impossible, for an individual to visually read standard print because of a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability.

Standards and principles


Content created and shared across our Digital Learning Environment (DLE) is accessible to you. We follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) principles of Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust content, as outlined in the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.


All content, communications and practices at UWE Bristol are accessible

We aim to create an inclusive community of learning. We have adopted the social model of disability to support our strategies and processes.

We are all responsible for and contribute to digital accessibility

At UWE Bristol we are working to improve the digital accessibility of our learning. We are working to build awareness, skills and an inclusive community to develop a universally accessible working and learning environment.

Open and continuous improvement

At UWE Bristol we review and update our accessibility statements and processes annually for our website and digital learning environment (DLE).

To help us to improve, we ask you to give us feedback.

Our plan

The Digital Learning Environment

The Digital Learning Environment (DLE) has two elements:

  1. The systems themselves – the vendors and the University annually review the system's accessibility standards. (Vendors should have a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), Conformance Report or Accessibility Statement that is regularly reviewed. We share the most recent of these under each system or tool).
  2. The content that we upload into the systems – content that has been created and uploaded by UWE Bristol staff is subject to our accessibility standards.

This plan sets out how we deal with current, historical and future learning resources.

Blackboard content

We have been building content (resources) in Blackboard for years. We know that some of this content is not accessible. We have managed this content in the following ways.

Current content

We have prioritised critical information documents such as student handbooks and assessment documents. These templates are accessible and consistent across modules.

All content created for the Digital Learning Environment now should be accessible to the WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

Staff training and development for accessibility skills are ongoing.

Historical content

Some of our online content is historical. We intend to continue to make this content available.

We will not be making it all accessible. We need to make sure that content that is current and in high use is the priority.

Where an accessible version is requested, we will make it as soon as possible.

Future content

We aim to make all future content on Blackboard accessible. The University will monitor this process and will intervene where content is less than fully accessible.

Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

Content uploaded to courses that predate 23 September 2018 is exempt from the regulations except for where it is used for active administrative purposes.

Technical information about Blackboard’s accessibility

The University of the West of England and Blackboard are committed to making Blackboard accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Blackboard Learn accessibility information

Blackboard Learn has a Screen Reader Tutorial to help you access the system.

Compliance status

Blackboard is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version (WCAG) 2.1 AA standard. The non-compliances and exemptions are listed in the VPAT Conformance Reports.

Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates

These Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) state which aspects of the core interfaces of Blackboard and associated tools meet WCAG accessibility guidelines:

Blackboard Ally (accessibility checker and alternative formats tool)

Blackboard Ally is an accessibility tool available in Blackboard. 

Staff use Ally to check the accessibility of their resources in Blackboard.

Students and staff can opt to download alternative formats of some document types. Click the capital ‘A’ symbol at the end of the file name to open the alternative formats menu.

There is a useful tutorial on the best ALLY alternative file formats to read on screen from McNaught consultancy and University of York.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Collaborate is a virtual classroom technology in Blackboard. This is a live interactive online virtual space for classes, with chat, whiteboard, video and audio, and screen and document sharing capability. Sessions can be recorded, which you can review via the menu in Blackboard Collaborate functions. Where downloading is enabled, you can also download the video as an MP4. The MP4 download will not include the chat history.

Blackboard Collaborate accessibility support

Event Capture (Panopto)

Panopto Event Capture, sometimes called Lecture Capture, is a video content management tool. At UWE Bristol, Panopto is used for lecture and event recordings. Panopto is also used for desktop recording of lectures, videos and podcasts.

Panopto can now create Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) captions. All video and audio files via Panopto will have ASR captions that are over 80% accurate.

Recordings of Blackboard Collaborate sessions are shared via Panopto for captioning.

Panopto can also generate a transcript from the captions file. All podcasts and audio-only files should have a transcript and video should have both captions and a transcript. The technology is improving both in accuracy and production functionality and we are aiming for 100% accurate captions for video and audio content in the future.

PebblePad (ePortfolio)

Most resources in PebblePad are uploaded and shared by students. There is no legal need for students to ensure their uploaded resources are accessible. However, it is a good opportunity to learn how to create accessible content as this is a desired skill in the world of work.

We make learning resources available for students to help them with this. Built-in accessibility checkers are available to students and staff including Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker for Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Excel, Outlook, Visio and Ally in Blackboard (support for students, instructors and admins).

Resources that are shared by teaching staff in PebblePad are accessible.

Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive and Teams

Office 365 is a cloud software system and includes access to Microsoft OneDrive, Teams, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. Office 365 has an in-built accessibility checker and there is an expectation that staff will use this tool to create and update content. This will form part of our Microsoft Office 365 training.

Other learning systems

Mentimeter (polling and voting interactive tool)

The University has other learning systems such as the polling or voting system Mentimeter. They are shared via Blackboard or Teams and do not host much content. Where these systems do contain content, we make that content accessible.

Turnitin (assessment submission plagiarism checker)

Turnitin is an assessment submission plagiarism checker tool used by UWE Bristol. For Turnitin accessibility conformance you can access their most current and tool-specific VPAT and Conformance reports, carried out by Level Access as auditors.

Reviewing our digital learning plans and accessibility statement

Our digital learning accessibility statement is revised annually in September or when there is a new tool or system added to our Digital Learning Environment (DLE).

Feedback to UWE Bristol

Please contact us at if you have an accessibility query, including if you:

  • are experiencing issues with accessing information or using DLE systems and tools
  • find an accessibility problem not listed in this statement
  • have positive feedback on the accessibility considerations made.

You can help us respond quickly and accurately if you share your course, programme or module code and any screen captures, recordings, or links that are relevant to your reported issue.

Report difficulties in accessing content

First steps

  1. You can make a general request via the accessibility link in a Blackboard Course site (bottom left-hand side of the open window). This request will go to Library Services staff.
  2. If you think there is a simple error in some content, you can approach your module leader. You can do this in person or by sending them an email.
  3. You can email us at for support.


We aim to help you as soon as we can. Have you:

  • reported a problem with Blackboard?
  • reported a problem with other learning systems?
  • had a problem with an alternative format request?
  • had a problem with content accessibility?

Formal complaints

You can raise a formal complaint via UWE Bristol's student complaints procedure and we will respond to you.

Enforcement procedure

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is the body responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’).

If you are not happy with our response to your complaint, please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Non-accessible content

We test the accessibility of key user journeys that represent the breadth of content across our website and associated platforms on a regular basis against WCAG 2.1 AA standards.  

Some parts of the website and associated platforms may not work for everyone. In this section, we have listed known issues that we either need to fix, cannot fix, or do not need to fix right now. 

If you find an issue that we have missed, please contact us at

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

This section covers issues that we need to fix and are currently working on. The issues listed in this section refer to both the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platform (Blackboard) and the content hosted in Blackboard.

In the Blackboard platform issues section, we list areas within Blackboard that we know are not fully accessible at UWE Bristol. We plan to fix or provide alternatives for all issues that we are aware of alongside our periodic internal testing and auditing processes.

Blackboard platform issues

Images without a description 

Some images on our website don't have appropriate alternative text (WCAG: 1.1.1).

Incorrectly tagged decorative images

Images which are purely decorative are not identified as such. They do not have empty alt fields or relevant Aria labels (WCAG: 1.1.1).

Headings are not sequential

Heading tags are used inconsistently to create emphasis to text, rather than styling them with CSS (WCAG: 1.3.1).

Form labels

Some of the form elements are missing labels that explain the type of content to enter. Some of the forms have labels that are not persistent. These labels do not remain visible when the user begins to enter data in the fields (WCAG: 3.3.2).

Contrast issues

Some pages contain elements with low contrast between the elements and their background particularly when under focus.

Moodle is developed by a third-party, with customisation applied locally by the University. Because of this, some of the issues with the colour contrast may be fixed by Kent, and some issues may be part of the Moodle platform that we cannot control (WCAG: 1.4.3).

Keyboard tabbing order

The keyboard tabbing order does not match the visual layout of the page (WCAG: 2.1.2).


Some buttons are not reachable or operable using the keyboard.

Date pickers cannot be interacted with using the keyboard.

Hotspot ordering questions require a pointing device to answer.

Tree widgets are not operable using the standard keystrokes.

The space key cannot be used to operate some buttons (WCAG: 2.1.1).

Page titles

Some of the page titles do not accurately describe the content of the page. Some of the page titles are not unique which can cause confusion (WCAG: 2.4.2).

Focus order

Content that is not visible on the screen receives focus.

Non-interactive content is included in the keyboard tab order.

Focus can leave some date pickers, and focus is at the end of the document, rather than where the date picker was opened.

Focus is not maintained inside some dialogs and menus when opened.

Several screens place focus in the main content, bypassing all content before (WCAG: 2.4.3).

Links without meaningful purpose

Some of the links are not labelled clearly. This means that the links do not make sense when they are taken out of context, and for some links, it is not possible to know what the purpose of the link is (WCAG: 2.4.4).

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate at UWE Bristol has no Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) captioning available for live content (WCAG: 1.2.4). Recordings of Blackboard Collaborate sessions should be uploaded to Panopto for captioning.

Text and images of text contrast issues

There are several minor instances of text that has insufficient contrast between the foreground and background colours (WCAG: 1.4.3).


Horizontal and vertical scrolling is required on some pages with a small screen (WCAG: 1.4.10).

Hover or focus

Tooltips are displayed on hover and cannot be dismissed without moving the cursor.

Some menu buttons are opened on hover, and cannot be dismissed without moving the cursor (WCAG: 1.4.13).

Headings and labels

Some button names are not descriptive, such as “X” for close.

Some interface elements contain redundant “Click to” instructions (WCAG: 2.4.6).

Focus visible

There are visible keyboard focus indicator exceptions.

Elements that are not visible on the screen can receive focus.

Focus can get masked by other components, such as dialogs, menus, fixed banners, and fixed footers.

Some elements do not have a visible indication of focus (WCAG: 2.4.7).

Status messages

Status messages are presented to the user by assistive technologies without receiving focus, with the following exceptions:

  • The alert for adding a column or row is not announced to assistive technologies on the “Create rubric” screen.
  • The status message on the “Create/edit formula” screen is interrupted as focus is moved to the question title, which is announced instead.

Content issues

Contrast issues 

Some documents contain text with low contrast between the text and its background. This can cause the text to be difficult to read, especially for those with low vision, poor eyesight, or colour blindness.

Images without a description 

Some documents contain images that don’t have a description or alternative text. People using screen readers or other assistive devices rely on these descriptions to understand the image content and purpose.

Document untagged 

Portable Document Format (PDF) tags are hidden labels that clarify the structure of the document and define a heading, paragraph, table, list, and so on.


Some documents may not contain marked-up headings providing structure to a document.

Non-Optical Character Recognised (OCR) 

Some documents are either entirely scanned or contain pages that are scanned. Screen readers may be unable to convert these images into words, even if the image only consists of text. 

Users can create OCR conversions of these documents using Blackboard Ally or SensusAccess. 

Tables, chart, graphs and data

Some tables, charts, graphs or data are added as images with no alt text (alternative text).

Some graphs and charts are provided with no data.

Some charts, graphs, diagrams and flow charts are provided with no contextual text.

Some tables have no header rows, contain merged or split cells or contain poor colour contrast for text.

Some tables, charts, graphs or data are not keyboard navigable.

Disproportionate burden

This section covers issues that we cannot fix right now. We’ve assessed the cost of fixing these issues but believe that doing so would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the law. 


Some of our recorded content may not have captions by default. For example, the content pre-dates 2018, or we do not own the intellectual property rights, so cannot amend the video.

Under the Equality Act 2010, we must provide accurate captions for people with protected characteristics, for example a student or staff member who is deaf or hard of hearing

We are constantly reviewing the technologies and our processes to improve captions.

All new recordings have automated captions (via Panopto) since September 2020.

You can access the captions in Panopto guide for more information.

Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

This section covers issues that we do not need to fix right now. The law calls these exemptions. 

PDFs and documents 

Some of our PDFs that are not essential to providing our services were published before 23 September 2018

We provide Ally within Blackboard, which allows users to download resources in alternative formats. You can use SensusAccess for content outside of Blackboard.  

If you have difficulty accessing these documents, please contact us at

Third-party content

Blackboard contains third-party content. We do not have control over and are not responsible for the accessibility of some of this content. We try to work with third parties to improve accessibility. This content may include: 

  • Turnitin for the submission and marking of assignments: Turnitin feedback studio turns submissions into image-based PDFs that are inaccessible to people using screen readers
  • links to recordings (via Panopto) 
  • links to external services such as Learning on Screen, Box of Broadcasts (BoB) and Talis Aspire.

TextBox Digitals searchBOX is a centralised, independent directory of third-party accessibility information.

searchBOX catalogues the contact information and accessibility statements of third-party suppliers, enables the sharing of community-generated accessibility statements, and allows users to map their supplier ecosystem.

Users can access third-party accessibility statements using the free searchBOX Finder service.

At UWE Bristol we encourage all our partners and suppliers to support this effort by ensuring that their accessibility information is included in the searchBOX directory and that it is up to date.