Accessibility statement for Xerte

Accessibility statement for Xerte

This accessibility statement applies to Xerte version 3.9 and later. This statement has been produced from the Xerte accessibility statement.

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability. 

How accessible this website is

Xerte has been designed from the outset to maximise accessibility and personalisation for end-users. If an author uses the default settings in Xerte toolkits, and employs the basic good practices enabled by the WYSIWYG editor and default dialogue boxes, then the end-user will benefit from a high level of native accessibility.

Range of media types

Xerte facilitates the provision of alternative formats on a wide range of page types including specific pages such as YouTube Feed and Flickr feed. The default embedded players are fully accessible to keyboards. Where embed code embeds content from other sources the author will need to check accessibility of the player. It is the authors responsibility to ensure the content they embed is accessible.


Xerte supports the use of alternative text in all images and also optional captions when added via the wysiwyg editor. Images can also be made resposive by using % dimensions and by default and where appropriate will open in a lightbox for a larger and/or clearer view.

Font Awesome

Font Awesome icons are built into page title and text area options for the editor. These icons can support users with poor literacy skills.

Font Awesome automatically provides a simple descriptive title for the icon inserted. This is available to screenreaders. If the default title is not appropriate for the context the author can change it via the properties window for each icon.

Narration and Audio

Narration and/or separate audio can be added to all page types. In most page types where audio can be added, an option is available to upload/include transcripts and/or transcripts can be included or linked from the text area of the relevant pages.

Media Alternatives

Dialogs for inserting images always prompt for alternative text. Captions are available as optional properties but the appropriate use of alternative text and captions depends on the content author.

Media can be added to pages in a variety of ways. This makes it easy for authors to provide rich content to support the needs of different users. It is the responsibility of the author to ensure alternative text versions of video and audio are available - for example using videos with captions or providing transcripts.

Some Xerte pages (Synched Video, Transcript Reader and Video pages) have specific options for adding transcripts. Other page types (Media lesson, Tabbed and Accordion Navigators) can have transcripts in a separate text pane. For any other page type that accepts media, a transcript can be loaded into the media store as a document and opened via a hyperlink from the page containing the media.

All default media players in Xerte toolkits can be fully controlled with or without a mouse.


Magnification and reflow

Using inbuilt browser controls, users can magnify without scrolling left/right by zooming the page magnification (CTRL + Windows or CMD + on a Mac). This is quick and easy, but because the header and footer areas also enlarge, it is only effective to about 250 - 300%.

For higher magnification, or a larger visible area of the screen, combine browser zooming with changing the default text size in the browser. This can be done in different ways. Sometimes plug-ins (for A+ Font size changer lite) provide the simplest solutions.

If you use browser plug-ins, ensure you exercise due diligence in checking they are safe and suitable for your purposes. High magnification or very large font sizes can result in aesthetic degradation


Orientation and navigation


The default learning object title and page title have headings H1 and H2 respectively. If content authors make good use of heading styles 3 - 6 available in the editor, page content can be easily navigated by assistive technologies or browser plug-ins like Headings Map.

ARIA Landmarks

Screen reader users can move efficiently round the page using barrier landmarks to go direct to the main content or the navigation.

Page Titles

The default page template prompts authors to create a page title for each new page. These are automatically added to the dynamic table of contents to support navigation.

Link Descriptions

Pages with interactivities and internal links automatically create meaningful text as a default (for example “Feedback” or “Submit”). The default text can be changed in the language settings. Links in author created content rely on the author to adopt good practices.

Navigation Aids

Pages can be navigated using the navigation buttons or the inbuilt dynamic table of contents. Authors can select different navigation options (linear, historic, menu, menu with page controls or linear with historic back button) depending on the teaching context.

Lightbox Windows

Authors can choose how links open, including the same window, new window, or in a Lightbox. The Lightbox option reduces disorientation for most users by providing the new content without leaving the Xerte resource or page containing the link. Lightboxes take keyboard focus and can be closed using the keyboard.

Colours and Contrasts

Content, tabs and buttons created using the default themes will meet accessibility standards for colour and contrast. There are no places in the default interface and content where information is conveyed by colour alone.

Keyboard Accessibility

Xerte has been optimised for keyboard accessibility. Page types as varied as drag-and-drop labelling, navigators, forms, drop-down options and slider activities can be completed using either a mouse or a keyboard, depending on the users preference. Only 3 “Games” pages are not accessible to screenreader users (see below) but these are still included because they add value for specific user groups and screenreader users get more benefit from alternative appropriate activities.

Please note that different activities suit different users and user experience is as significant as technical accessibility. It is up to the author to decide - for example - if a gap-fill exercise with drop-down options is preferable to a drag and drop equivalent. Both are technically accessible but the former is perhaps more usable with a screenreader.

The keyboard tab order is logical and predictable. Xerte uses tab, shift-tab, space bar, up down arrows and enter to access content. The current tab focus is clearly visible. There are no known keyboard traps. However, we cannot guarantee that third party content authors embed in a page will be as keyboard accessible as native Xerte content.


All forms are fully keyboard accessible and are labelled so that screen reader users know what information is required (eg “Answer” or “Response”. In most case these are also customisable by the author. The page instructions, also under the control of the author, can make clear any further specific instructions for the user. Interactivities Xerte toolkit interactivities are accessible to keyboard only users and screen reader users. When interactivities involve pop-up information, the screenreader focus is taken to the new information.

Mobile compatibility

Xerte content and interactivities are by default technically compatible with modern mobile devices, especially larger devices such as tablets and laptops, and users can take advantage of the accessibility features built-in to those devices. However authors may need to consider and adopt a mobile first approach when creating resources for smaller hand-held devices. (See known accessibility issues below)


The authoring interface provides a drop-down list of installed languages and when any of those languages are selected all interface elements are changed to that language as well as the html language identifier. There is also a language pack creation tool (XerteTrans) available to the community to create language packs that do not yet exist.

Supporting authors with good practice

The editor provides authors with Headings 3 - 5 to structure their content. Headings 1 and 2 are already used in the learning object title and page titles. The editor automatically interprets Bold and Italic as Strong and Emphasis. This provides semantic Information to screen reader users that would not be conveyed by Bold or Italic


Known accessibility issues


The three currently included Games Page types are not accessible to screen reader users, but only the Word search is inaccessible to a sighted keyboard user. It is important content creators consider "equivalence of experience". Highly visual activities are great for deaf or dyslexic users but will not create a good experience for blind users no matter how "accessible" they are. In some cases alternative resources provide a more positive experience than an experience that is technically accessible but cognitively alien.

Colour contrasts and custom themes

The default XOT themes meet WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility requirements. However, colour contrasts can be compromised in the following circumstances:

  • the author sets an inappropriate background image beneath text. Xerte provides an end user accessibility option to remove background images but authors should select background images with caution so that there is still sufficient contrast and legibility,
  • the author uses controls available via the wysiwyg editor and/or custom CSS to apply colours or other styles that impact accessibility,
  • the author chooses an alternative theme, or develops their own that impacts accessibility

Mobile compatibility

Xerte provides authors with a wide range of 'page types' from which to choose, including different interactions and various types of media, and mostly this should all be technically compatible with modern mobile devices especially tablets and laptops. However some interactions may not be practical on smaller hand-held devices unless authors consider and adopt a mobile first approach. e.g. limit the amount of draggable items so that a drag and drop interaction remains practical on a small screen device. Where necessary authors should test and adapt their resources with small screen compatibility in mind.

What to do if you cannot access parts of this website

If you experience any issues accessing content developed in Xerte, please email

The University offers an Alternative Formats Service (AFS).

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

If you find any problems not listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, email

To contact the Xerte developers with any accessibility related issues, use the Xerte accessibility forum or use the Xerte project’s GitHub.

Accessibility-related issues being worked on can be found on the Xerte GitHub repository via the Accessibility tag.

Enforcement procedure 

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 us by phone or visiting us in person 

Our team is based on the University Park Campus. You can contact us at

Technical information about this website’s accessibility

University of Nottingham is committed to making its website accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. 

Compliance status 

Xerte Online Toolkits is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, level AA except for the following circumstances:

  • specific specialist page types noted below
  • authors fail to use appropriate guidelines
  • authors fail to anticipate the specific needs of their audience

Non-accessible content 

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations


Some interactivities require users to place text in a sequence or to match labels with target areas. Currently, when a Screen reader user picks up a label and tabs through the target areas, they cannot get any feedback as to whether they already dropped a label on that target area. This is an issue with Matching texts and Timeline/matching pairs.

This issue and any others identified after this statement was last updated have been added to the developer work stream on the Xerte Github under the Accessibility tag.

Timed content

The timing and appearance of text on the Bullets page cannot be changed by the user. This fails 2.2.2 (Pause, Stop, Hide), however, users are not disadvantaged in any way.

Errors reported by automatic auditing tools

If you use automated accessibility auditing tools on Xerte resources like Wave, Axe, Lighthouse etc you may still find errors reported or alerts identified. Xerte use these tools too and are still working through some of the genuine issues. You can see a list of these via the Xerte GitHub repository via the Accessibility tag.

It's also important to note that due to the dynamic way that Xerte works some issues reported by automated tools may be incorrect or certainly not likely to adversley impact users. e.g. any pages/themes that still report contrast errors are easily resolved for users by their option to switch to the high contrast theme.

Xerte also have additional improvements planned and underway which deal with issues that aren't reported by the automated tools but can impact on the usability and accessibility of resources created, especially the usefuleness of certain interactions for screen reader users. See the Xerte accessibility guidance page for additional information about the differences between technical compliance and pedagocial context.

If you discover any accessibility issues, you can report these to Xerte via their accessibility forum or GitHub issues list.

Non-accessible and disproportionate burden 

Interactivities and Games

Some interactivities are visually focused. They add value for sighted users but are very challenging for blind users. These include the following pages: Image viewer, Sortable Grid, Hangman, Memory game and Word search.

Discussions with the developer team and accessibility specialists suggest that the value obtained by blind users in doing these activities is minimal in relation to the opportunity cost of diverting volunteer effort from other developments that would add more value to more users.

JMOL Viewer

This third-party 3D molecule viewer is fully keyboard accessible but the technology does not currently exist to meaningfully render the infinite viewing permutations in an alternative format. A blind user would have a better experience with an alternative physical model.

Media PDF Viewer

The embedded PDF in this page type is accessible to keyboard and screen reader users and can be magnified but the viewer does not allow the PDF to reflow when magnified. Xerte explored the issues with PDF reflow and discovered that even Adobe’s own specialist Reader software cannot consistently provide a reliable reflow experience.

Xerte consider it a disproportionate burden to attempt to fix this issue and advise users who need magnification and reflow to download the PDF locally and try using Adobe Reader (View > Zoom > Reflow) or Microsoft Word (View > Web layout) to achieve reflow.

Non accessible and out of scope

Any third-party content embedded in Xerte which we do not control or fund (for example Flickr content, YouTube content) is beyond the scope of the PSBAR regulations.

How we tested this website

This statement was prepared by members of University of Nottingham Libraries working with the Xerte development team and based on the Government Digital Services Basic test, supported by both manual and automated testing with accessibility checking tools such as WAVE, SiteImprove, AXE and Lighthouse.

A sample of around 60% of the page types were tested using Windows Narrator and/or NVDA. Deeper dive testing was also commissioned by a technical accessibility expert on a sample of pages containing widely used web elements.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility 

The Xerte Project takes accessibility seriously and the high levels of native accessibility in the tools demonstrate a long-standing commitment to accessible design.

Xerte aims to provide best-of-breed accessibility, and the project works with accessibility experts, and with users with a wide range of differing requirements, to inform the development of Xerte

Preparation of this accessibility statement 

This statement was prepared on 19 October 2020. It was last updated on 20 October 2020.

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