List of recent improvements to highlight our ongoing work (we will update this list regularly - last updated 20/10/23)
Significant work on our Parents Information Page, including provision of accessible alternative to youtube material
Improved headers / navigation on this accessibility page
Improved Enrolment Information Page (including an accessible alternative information sheet to download)
Improved Admissions Department Page (including removal of problematic youtube content)
Improved the GCSE Results Day page (reformatted with accessible headings)
Improved the IT Code of Conduct Page (reformatted with accessible headings)
Significantly improved the Student travel Page (This was a huge one for us, the original was very complex and inaccessible)
Significantly improved the Student Finance Page (including revision of downloadable documents to improve accessibility)
Accessible versions of key college documents now available to download, including accessible version of the College Prospectus, accessible version of Additional Studies Booklet and accessible version of the Performing Arts Leaflet.
Accessibility Statement for The Sixth Form College Colchester
UPDATE - 19/07/23
We are delighted to announce that we have recently arranged with a commercial provider to put in place a completely new website by January '24; this will enable us to address a number of the issues detailed below. We've done a lot of work so far this year in this area, but this investment should, along with our ongoing programme of addressing accessibility concerns, significantly aid us in achieving our aim of full compliance with accessibility requirements as detailed below, by end of Jan '24.
In the meantime, we continue to work to resolve a number of identified issues with the current site - setting ourselves the broad task of completing a range of work by November '23. This work is ongoing; we understand the importance of completing a range of tasks and there will be a programme of incremental improvements online over the coming months as we move towards that date – for example, areas such the provision of accessible versions of documents such as the ‘Additional Studies Booklet’ and “The Performing Arts Leaflet”, as well as accessible alternatives to youtube content on our ‘parents page’ are all in place before our deadline of July ’23. Please see the "what we’re doing to improve accessibility" section below for further detail.
This current accessibility statement applies to our entire website, except for the Governing Body page, the content of which is overseen by our clerk of governors and is covered by its own accessibility statement. The governing body page on the new website will be fully integrated into our practice regarding the rest of the new site when it is launched.
This website is run by The Admissions Department of The Sixth Form College Colchester. It was launched over 15 years ago and has been substantially modified in the intervening period. In 2022 it was agreed that it is in need of a substantial review. The website has been left in place for the current 2022/23 admissions cycle, but we propose to put in place such changes for January '24. This period will offer us a substantial opportunity to address a range of remaining accessibility issues, both in terms of underlying coding and navigation, as well as revision of uploaded content. Our recent accessibility audit (Dec'22-Feb'23) has enabled us to think hard about the accessibility of our site, and, in many cases, resolve a range of issues. Other issues will be addressed as our part of the new site we have planned. Further details regarding this audit, including links to various audit reports, can be found further down this page.
We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website; for example, that means you should be able to z\oom in up to 300% without the text spilling off the screen, navigate most of the website using speech recognition software just a keyboard and listen to most of the website using a screen reader. We have tested the site using Assitiv Labs testing software and screenreaders such as NVDA and Narrator should function effectively across a variety of browsers.
We have worked hard to put in place uniform and accessible colours, contrast and fonts across the site. We do not offer options to change colours, contrast levels and fonts, but nor do we block any software that does so.
We’ve also made the website text as simple as possible to understand. Readability tests such as those found at webfx.com gives us a score of around 50/100 on the pages sampled which means that our page can be understood by 15-17 year olds, who are our target/intended audience.
If you have any issues at all with accessing the material on this website, please don't hesitate to contact our admissions team and we will endeavour to resolve issues or provide alternatives wherever possible. The AbilityNet website also has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.
How accessible this website is
We believe that the bulk of our website is fully accessible, in terms of its layout, navigation, coding etc. We do however recognise that aspects of our website, especially in terms of uploaded content, do not not fully meet the required Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) AA standard. Further details regarding these issues and our recent audit and our timescale for rectifying such issues are detailed below.
Feedback and contact information
If you need information on this website in a different format like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille you can contact our admissions team. We’ll consider your request and get back to you in 5 working days. Also, if you cannot view the map on our ‘How to find us’ page, please contact us for directions.
Reporting accessibility problems with this website
We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this website. If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, please contact the admissions team.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).
Contacting / visiting us
Our College Reception has audio induction loops, or if you contact us before your visit we can arrange a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter
Find out how to contact us by visiting our Contact page
Technical information about this website’s accessibility
The Sixth Form College Colchester is committed to making its website accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below. This was established by an audit undertaken between December '22 and Feb '23. An audit was undertaken by a small team of college staff, lead by a member of the college senior management team, but drawing upon support from IT and admin staff. The college also temporarily employed a computing undergraduate to work upon rectifying a range of issues with website content
We are planning an overhaul of the website by Jan '24, as it is a website reaching the end of its current format. Many of the remaining issues raised regarding issues such as coding, navigation, colour-contrast etc. will be addressed as part of that forthcoming website review and renewal process, led by the same team.
The website is a key component of our annual application cycle (indeed it is its key purpose) and therefore a number of issues are best addressed as these matters arise as part of the annual cycle of events - this applies, for example, to areas such as the college prospectus, and the travel page and term dates page. All three of these pages will contain fully accessible content by the end of October 2023. Other content, most notably youtube videos, can be most effectively renewed further as we move into our work with a new cohort of applicants, with youtube content fully accessible by Nov '23.
'Non-accessible Content - non compliance with regulations'
PDF documents available to download
We recognise that, across the site, there are a number of pdf documents that are not fully accessible. These can be identified by the automated test we ran using recommended powermapper software. The PDfs causing concern are listed in an automated accessibility report, although as the college maintains an ongoing programme of identifying and addressing any concerns with PDFs, it is likely that much of the list will have been reduced since the report.PDFs causing concern fall into three broad and overlapping areas:
- PDFs produced by commercial organisations, local graphic design companies etc. Often there are issues in areas such as colour contrast, text alternatives to images etc. A number of these fail WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
- PDFs uploaded to the governing body webpage and covered by a separate accessibility statement (see the Governing Body webpage)
- PDFs that were not titled or given appropriate alt-text image descriptions, when converted from word documents, and, in one case, a missing structure tag. In many, but not all documents, the missing alt-text image description is related to use of the college logo.
Solutions to these problems will be implemented as follows:
1. Implementation of a college wide 'PDF policy', with all PDFs uploaded by a small number of 'gatekeeper' to ensure consistency and accessibility for documentation online - from this point forward.
2. The college has employed staff to locate and remedy problematic PDFs, including adding titles, image alt-text, document structure tags and language tags. We will continue with this approach - from this point forward
3. There is a distinction to be made between the bulk of the college documents uploaded, which originated as word documents and often need minimal attention to ensure accessibility, and the smaller number of commercially produced, lengthy, graphics-heavy documents, such as those below:
These are complex, image-heavy documents that may, for example, fail Success Criterion 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) and WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content).
Text only word versions of all of these, and many other documents, can be requested from the admissions team.
These documents are updated on an annual cycle, with 23/24 versions available for Nov '23. As they are updated, each will be considered in terms of accessibility. This process is underway for example with the upcoming version of the performing arts leaflet, where we have made significant changes in areas such as image / text overlap and colour contrast.
In this vein, we aim to have all college pdf accessibility issues resolved by Nov '23 or, in a limited number of cases, provide text only alternatives. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of images and pdfs meets accessibility standards.
Concerns with tables have been addressed in many places, with significant work done on labelling tables appropriately.
Difficulties remain in two distinct areas:
Both of these sections contain significant amounts of numerical information, originally organised into table in MS Word. The tables are not fully accessible, with empty row or column headers.
Similar issues also arise with the tables in the results data document. This material fails Success Criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships
All of these will be radically reviewed for the next annual cycle. These documents are renewed annually and revised versions are scheduled to be updated in summer '23. As with pdfs, we aim to make this material fully accessible by Nov '23.
The travel page will also require an update to older bootstrap frameworks to fully meet accessibility requirements. This will be resolved as part of our new website. When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of tables meets accessibility standards.
The site contains a significant number of youtube videos - none of them essential for accessing our services, but useful as a further source of information regarding college life and curriculum. All of them are subtitled; we sampled widely and it is clear that they vary widely in quality and accessibility. In a number of cases, material, such as images or diagrams, conveys content that is not available in alternative text or audio form. We acknowledge that this material needs revision or replacement. The videos were produced very quickly, buy a huge variety of non-specialists, working under difficult 'lockdown' conditions. They served a purpose when we had no other way to communicate with prospective students. They were produced in response to a need to college open evenings; now that such events are back in place it is a moot point whether they are required, but they remain as a useful 'second tier' of material. When our annual cycle reaches the right point in summer '23, we will either remove or replace them with new accessible alternatives, in time for our Oct'23 open evenings. thus, as with other issues, we plan to have this issue resolved by Nov '23.
A number of these videos fail to meet Success Criterion 1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded)
When we publish new content we’ll make sure our use of video meets accessibility standards.
Colour contrast and images
We conducted extensive testing with wave software and other tools to check contrast across the site; for example we used an online accessible colour palette builder to check contrast ratios across the site. as a result of this we significantly reduced the number of colour palettes and removed the grey backdrop to various ribbons and other areas where we couldn’t achieve sufficient colour contrast. This will continue further as part of forthcoming revamp / reskin – as we move towards standardised colour palette across our website and literature.
We have, inline with government guidance, replaced our cooking banner to meet accessibility guidelines. We also removed the image carousel function on our bannerheads, as it was moving content with no pause button, which failed Success Criterion 2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide
Zoom function and navigation
The site mostly performs well all the way up to 500%, retaining clarity, coherence, navigation etc. This is the case across all the devices we tested it on (android phone, iphone, PC, Amazon Fire tablet).
In line with government guidance, we have removed longer URLs and other material that strays off the screen at higher magnification.
Ideally, at 500%, there would still be no need for horizontal scrolling; we have however found that from 200% zoom upwards, a horizontal scrolling bar is added to the screen. This is to accommodate a thin grey bar on the left of the screen - in terms of actual content, all of it is viewable without recourse to a horizontal scrolling bar, one would only need to move horizontally if one wished to look at this bar. The presence of this bar is irritating, but it does not prevent all material from being displayed accessibly on a screen, even at the highest level of zooming. We think this possibly fails Success Criterion 1.4.10 Reflow? (Content can be presented without loss of information or functionality, and without requiring scrolling in two dimensions).
The hamburger menu is accessible using the keyboard as it can be expanded, but the focus is not visible to allow users to do this clearly. This fails WCAG 2.4.7 (Focus Visible). Also once one zooms at 200% or beyond, the burger menu icon that appears is accessible by tabbing using the keyboard alone, however its not clear to the viewer that it has been selected. This issue has been addressed in later versions of the website framework, but is a recognised issue with our current version. This fails Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible'
Also, currently anyone navigating the website using a screen reader or tabbing on a keyboard cannot skip to the main content. we understand that this is irritating and time-consuming for such a visitor. We understand that there is a link that one can add manually and which sits invisibly before the navigation bar, but we don’t have this currently. This also fails Guideline 2.1 Keyboard Accessible.
We have removed links in the banner, where their purpose was not clear.
In terms of variety of methods of navigation a search box has been suggested in staff consultation exercises regarding the website. It will be considered as part of forthcoming revamp, as will a site map. The main menu for the college courses does however offer a search function.
The above coding issues will be addressed as part of our forthcoming renewal of the website and addressed by Jan '24.
Disproportionate burden assessment
The website was audited in Dec '22 by Government Digital Services. It was requested that we further audit our website and address any concerns; we carefully assessed the cost of conducting the audit and fixing the various issues. The college is an inclusive community and takes all issues regarding accessibility seriously. We do not regard any of the accessibility issues raised by this process to be a disproportionate burden. We have resolved issues or made clear when we plan to do so in the 'Non-accessible Content - non compliance with regulations' section of this statement .
What we’re doing to improve accessibility
We are renewing our website, with substantial changes planned for Jan'24. This should allow us to address a substantial number of any remaining accessibility issues in areas such as navigation, coding etc. We are working with a commercial provider to develop this site at the moment and have received full assurances regarding accessibility on the new site. The January deadline is a cautious one; if we can launch the site sooner, we will.
We will renew / remove / review problematic or non-accessible youtube content by Nov '23. We have put in place, from April '23, a programme of review - working with departments to renew or update current content, or to provide accessible alternatives. This will be completed over the coming months. Again, if we can resolve issues sooner, we will: for example, the youtube content issued to parents at induction will have fully accessible alternatives in place by end of June '23.(UPDATE - this material was put in place by June '23)
Work on current website to rectify a number of problematic pages: issues with content of 'travel' and 'term dates' pages will be resolved by Nov '23. Our hope is to renew these pages far sooner, where possible. (UPDATE - Travel page resolved July '23)
We have developed a college-wide "PDF Policy" to govern all college documents online in terms of format, accessibility, colour-contrast, use of images etc. which is in place from June '23. This will govern as many documents as possible on this site (our work in this area is ongoing) and ALL documents on the new site from Jan '24. This is part of a wider suite of documentation designed to cover our practice - including guidelines for PDFs, youtube, use of font and colour etc. All in place from June '23. These will guide our practice as we address issues over the coming months..
We will provide accessible, text-only alternatives to documents where appropriate, with text only versions of the following documents online College Prospectus (from Oct '23), Additional Studies Booklet (July '23), Performing Arts Leaflet (July '23). (UPDATE - Design changes made to performing arts leaflet to make it more readable this year - plus text only version now available - both published online on documents page 12/06/23)
We will audit and review such matters annually, publishing updates on this site - next scheduled update is Jan '24 as new website is tested
Work on a uniform accessible college colour palette for online and other materials is now complete and has been passed to commercial web developers for the new site, to be launched Jan '24
Preparation of this accessibility statement
This statement was prepared on 4th March '23 . It was last reviewed on 19th July '23
This website was last tested on 2nd March '23 (This was the final date of a three month programme of testing). The testing was carried out by staff at the sixth Form College Colchester as detailed above.
We used this approach to deciding on a sample of pages to test:
We were guided by the government advice on checking accessibility.
We ran many of these tests, the most recent automated test results are available for download below.
We also selected a variety of pages for a basic accessibility check, the results of which can also be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
Here we selected the following pages for checking, in line with guidance. (Most of our web pages are based on a handful of standard formats - we tried to represent a range of them)
HOMEPAGE - A unique page for us and one that we have already given much thought to in our planning for the upcoming revamp of the site. We’re concerned about the ‘three tiers’ of information, with lots of detail in the structured boxes in the middle – although, from an accessibility point of view, these perhaps offer some advantages.
SAMPLE SUBJECT PAGE - This page was checked under every criteria detailed below. It is based on a standard template and thus reflects the quality of a significant number of other identical ‘course information’ pages. A list of these can be found here: LIST OF A LEVEL COURSES. The only significant variation between the course pages is the quality of the embedded youtube videos and a far broader number of these were checked. We are aware that these vary considerably in terms of accessibility (see above)
DOCUMENT PAGE - This page was chosen because it contained a significant number of pdf documents from a wide variety of sources; we are aware that there are a range of pdf issues and therefore we checked this page as well as a broader range of infoboxes across the site.
TEXT PAGE - We picked this as a more standard text-based page – as a representative of standard text-based format.
ACCESSIBILTY STATEMENT - Was also checked as an audit requirement
CONTACT PAGE - Was checked as an audit requirement, and because it contained a significant number of forms
We also checked the forms on THE FORMER STUDENT PAGE and we also checked the FIND US PAGE because it contained a map. We looked at zoom function, navigation and provision of alternative text directions.