Accessibility standards

This page records some of the more significant accessibility barriers still found throughout the site. It isn't comprehensive, but should give an idea of the sorts of issues users may face when visiting. We have these issues in our backlog of improvements.

Latest improvements

The extra information (including the object title) available in the Gallery view is now accessible without having to hover over the image with the mouse.

Search results pages now have distinct titles based on the pagination and filters used, including Collection, Subject Heading, Type, and Date.

Still to do

Keyboard accessibility

There are some issues with using keyboard navigation on the site.

  • Most links on the site don't give any indication of focus, making it extremely difficult to use keyboard-only navigation. A few links and buttons do indicate focus, but it is not very strong, and is still not very useful.
  • Hovering over some icons and buttons with a mouse makes tooltips with extra information appear. These tooltips are not keyboard accessible, and cannot be activated by keyboard.

Colour contrast

The placeholder text in several text entry fields, including the main search box, has poor colour contrast making it difficult for some users to read.

Text resizing

There are a few minor problems that make text illegible or confusing when resized to 200%, including the radio buttons on the Advanced Search page.


When an error interrupts the submission of a form, it may not be clear to visually impaired users that anything has gone wrong.


Many images have alternative text (using the alt attribute) that simply repeats the associated text without adequately describing the image itself. This can leave users who can't see the images at a significant disadvantage.

Icons are used to identify certain passages of text as purely informational. They are loaded as CSS background images on empty, generic HTML elements. This mean they have no text equivalent and are therefore imperceptible to users who cannot see the images.

Links to external sites include a small indicative image showing that the link takes you off-site. This image is a CSS background image without a text equivalent, meaning these links are not properly identified as external.

Page titles

Pages of filtered search results need some further improvements to their titles.

Ask a librarian form

We have identified the following accessibility issues on the 'Ask a librarian' form. We are expecting to improve these issues over time.

  • At certain viewport widths, some content overlaps other content. 
  • The required form fields are noted only by a blue checkmark image. These blue checkmark image are missing alt-text, and are not part of the label. 
  • The H2 heading for each section of the form is programmed with extra functions, however these are no keyboard accessible. 
  • The 'What do you want to know?' section has a table layout and contains extra table elements which it should not.
  • The 'What do you want to know' section — the text input area has no associated label. The user knows it's an empty editable section, but not what kind of editable section. 
  • Keyboard only users will have to Tab navigate a number of times if they wish to expand or contract an input field.
  • The 'What do you want to know' section has two Tab stops in Google Chrome. In Safari, keyboard only users are unable to move outside of the input area as Tab does not work to navigate out of the area. 
  • The expand and contract controls for input fields are incorrectly marked up. They should be buttons not links. 
  • The expand and contract controls ('+' and '-') are not programmatically associated with the corresponding text input fields. 
  • The left aligned labels are visually separated from their corresponding text field. This impacts screen magnification users. 
  • Compulsory field error notification appears at the top of the form, not with the corresponding input field. This will be difficult for screen readers users, as they will have to search for the right input field. 
  • After submitting the request from, users are not taken to the top of the confirmation page. 
  • You need to tab outside of form to escape (Esc) the modal form.