Accessibility  How we're improving accessibility

The Web Accessibility Project developed a plan in 2019 to address the University’s web accessibility issues. 

This plan established staggered dates for the creation and implementation of a new, accessible design system along with moving and remediating on-page content to meet WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines. 

The plan applies to 67 core sites of the University of Leeds digital estate. The selection focuses on web-based sites not system-driven sites (e.g. 

The plan came into action in February 2020 and has lead to the creation of a fully accessible design system as well as a range of updates and improvements across the digital estate.

As of January 2023, the project plan is subject to external factors and dates for when these sites will be addressed haven’t been redetermined yet. However, it’s anticipated there will be constant improvements over the coming years.

For the parts of the digital estate that aren’t in scope for the Web Accessibility Project, the University’s IT Governance, Risk and Compliance team is addressing non-compliances by working through a prioritised list of sites and systems with internal teams and external suppliers.

If you would like to know when a site or system will be addressed, or would like to input on which sites and systems should be prioritised, please contact IT Services:

The following sections will be updated when a new prioritised plan has been agreed.

Work streams

Our Web Accessibility Project plan has been divided into three main work streams with the below steps being applied to each site, or set of sites:

  • Creation of new web user interface components and styles to replace inaccessible page elements as part of an evergreen design system.
  • Testing and implementation of these design system components.
  • Migrations and remediation of the on-page content and Word and PDF documents. 

Division of the web estate

Based on the 2019 plan, the 67 selected sites from the University of Leeds web estate have been divided into delivery groups to help organise effort.


Wellbeing, Safety and Health -

Foundation elements

  • Campus Developments (no longer active) -
  • Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History (CentreCATH) - 
  • Changing the Story - 
  • Priestley International Centre for Climate - 
  • Communications -
  • Conferences, Workshops, Exhibitions, and Colloquia -
  • The Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds -
  • A Practical Guide To Delivering Results -
  • The Digital Education Service -
  • Centre for Disability Studies -
  • Equality Policy Unit -
  • Estates and Facilities -
  • Facilities Directorate -
  • A Good Life For All Within Planetary Boundaries -
  • International Medieval Congress -
  • IT Inductions -
  • LOGIK (Learning Opportunities for Gaining Information and Knowledge) -
  • Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) -
  • Print and Copy Bureau -
  • Organisational Development and Professional Learning -
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 (no longer active) -
  • Student Talent Spotting -
  • Sustainability -
  • Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence -
  • water@leeds -
  • The Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing -


  • Arts, Humanities and Cultures -
  • Biological Sciences -
  • Business School -
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences -
  • Environment -
  • Medicine and Health -
  • Social Sciences -

Corporate (core public University site)

University of Leeds -

Task based

  • For students -
  • For staff -
  • HR -
  • Student Education Service -


  • Alumni (no longer active) -
  • Campaign (no longer active) -
  • Finance -
  • Leeds Child Development Unit -
  • Secretariat -
  • SWJTU (Southwest Jiatong University) Leeds Joint School -
  • The Unbundled University -
  • Graduation videos (no longer active) -
  • Snap Surveys (no longer active) -

External services

  • Accommodation -
  • Course Search -
  • Library -
  • Masters scholarships -
  • PhD -

Further sites

  • Careers Centre -
  • stage@leeds -
  • Nexus -
  • Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) Leeds Research Portal -
  • Strategy and Planning -
  • Dent-AIM -
  • Link to Leeds -
  • Great Food at Leeds -
  • Sport and Physical Activity -
  • Meet in Leeds -
  • Open Days (no longer active) -
  • Personal Tutoring (no longer active) -
  • Lifelong Learning Centre (no longer active) -
  • Commercial Campus Support (no longer active) -


Remediation of each group has been planned at different, staggered times within each work stream.

Improvements to the digital estate

The following accessibility improvements have been made to the Leeds digital estate since the Web Accessibility Project began.

Design system

A brand-new, accessible design system has been built from the ground up.

This has meant the creation of a suite of fully accessible components and styles that will be applied to sites across the digital estate. 

The design system was applied to the main University site in June 2021, following a pilot application to the Wellbeing, Safety and Health site.

Improvements and new components continue to be added to the design system each month. 

Main University site (

Accessibility improvements to the primary University site include the following:


  • Our text contrast ratios meet the 4.5:1 and 3:1 requirements.
  • Our pages should always have descriptive and informative titles. 
  • The navigation order of links, form elements and similar parts of our webpages is now always logical and intuitive.
  • The purpose of each link is clear from the text or its context alone. It easy to distinguish similar text items that link to different pages. 
  • Page elements have been coded in ways that are compatible with assistive technologies.
  • Page mark-up is used in ways that make the page more accessible.


  • We improved our cookie consent banner so that it doesn’t confuse the focus order of the page and doesn’t cover parts of the page.
  • We have produced a Campus Directory, which is an accessible, text-based alternative to our interactive campus map.

Student site


  • A range of improvements have been made to the site content, including proper application of headings and improved link text.
  • A visual refresh of the website that will mean more of our text contrast ratios meet the 4.5:1 and 3:1 requirements has been tested. It is due to go live in July.

WordPress sites


  • Content improvements have been made on many of the 38 WordPress sites that form part of the Web Accessibility Project’s scope. These include moving content from PDFs to HTML pages, improved use of image alt text, ensuring tables have labelled header rows, more accessible heading structures and other improvements.
  • An update of the University-branded WordPress theme has been created and tested. It is expected to be implemented before the end of 2022. This will solve many of the issues outlined in the earlier ‘Foundation: WordPress toolkit’ section. 

Course Search


  • The Web Accessibility Project has designed, built and tested a complete suite of accessible components for the design system to enable the Course Search site to be brought onto the design system in the coming months.
  • Improvements include ‘typeahead’ functionality that attempts to pre-empt someone’s input in a form field, fully accessible checkboxes, radio buttons and date pickers.

Alumni site


The alumni site has been moved into the main University site, which uses our accessible design system, and away from a platform that had significant accessibility issues.

Other effort

Digital Accessibility site

A full set of guidelines for producing accessible web content and documents has been created. The Digital Accessibility site helps colleagues meet accessibility requirements within the University’s primary content management systems as well as Word and PowerPoint.


Updated: 13 January 2023

Related links