Updated 3 May 2024


Our commitment to accessibility

To help achieve our objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education and as part of our commitment to serving our customers and users, Oxford University Press is striving to make its products accessible to and inclusive of all our users, including those with visual, hearing, cognitive, or motor impairments.

In line with these goals, we follow the general principles of web usability and universal design and, where feasible, endeavor to make the Oxford Reference Online site (ORO) accessible to all regardless of physical or cognitive impairment or the device used. We are currently targeting adherence to level AA of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1), in order to help our users take full advantage of the accessibility features provided by their chosen device, web browser or operating system.


A programme of improvement

ORO complies with applicable law relating to accessibility (including with the obligations under The Equality Act 2010) and much of ORO is already accessible in accordance with WCAG 2.1. We are making ongoing improvements, however, and to accomplish these, we have a committed investment and development programme to deliver improved accessibility compliance over the coming months and beyond.

This continuous improvement programme benefits from expert consultation with a number of universities and institutional partners, including a leading web accessibility expert involved in the creation of WCAG and disability librarians who have validated our approach.

Areas currently identified for improvement include:

  • Improve use of headings to correctly organise content
  • Improve use of lists to correctly organise content
  • Fully support keyboard operability
  • Properly structure site focus
  • Increase visibility of focused elements
  • Improve how elements are read out by screen readers
  • Improve our provision of alt text
  • Improve the usability of dynamic content such as dropdowns and filters for screen readers
  • Ensure all form fields labels are meaningful
  • Correct or remove invisible links
  • Add captions to tables where they are missing

Since commencing this programme we have delivered the following improvements:

May 2021:

  • The My Content and My Searches menus are now fully usable with a keyboard, and have ARIA attributes added so that the menus are better interpreted by screenreaders
  • The ‘Search your Library's Resources’ section of the subscriber login panel can now be used with a keyboard

November 2020:

  • The expand and collapse options in the Table of Contents are now accessible for keyboard users.

July 2020:

  • Added fieldsets around filters in the advanced search/browse results page so that filter options are programmatically grouped together.
  • Removed empty links from the Browse bar and elsewhere on the site to enable a more efficient keyboard and screenreader navigation experience.
  • Added alt text to the ‘Find This Resource’ icons.

May 2020:

  • Improvements to form field labels to make sure they are programmatically associated with their form fields, enabling screen reading software to accurately communicate to the user what the form field is for.
  • Popups are now usable with a keyboard, allowing keyboard users to view and download PDFs, amongst other site features.
  • Visibility of focused elements when using a keyboard to navigate has been improved.
  • Added ‘skip to main content’ links where missing to make it easier to access the key content on a page.


March 2020:

  • The share feature is now accessible for keyboard users and it’s now possible to tab beyond it to reach the rest of our site content. The feature and options are announced more clearly by screenreader software.
  • Improvements to form submission include error messages that persist on the screen if the form has an error, notification of all form fields that have failed submission and clear identification of mandatory fields.
  • Removal of the confusing experience for keyboard users of being able to tab through Browse menu items without the menu itself being open on the screen. Now the menu items will only be tabbed to if the user chooses to open the menu. Menus will also close when the focus is no longer within the menu.
  • Page titles for images opened in a new tab are more meaningful and lengthy page titles have been truncated, to help screenreader users better understand which tabs are open in the browser.


December 2019:

  • Search results page no longer automatically refreshes every time a result display option is selected using a keyboard. The page now only refreshes once a change to the way results are displayed is submitted.
  • All “view larger” image links are now reachable with a keyboard and will open in a new tab.


Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)

We have commissioned independent VPAT assessment reports to help us better understand how we can improve accessibility on ORO in line with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (US). Please download our latest assessment below. As we develop and improve our accessibility offering, we will provide updated VPATs on this page.

VPAT Assessment 2024 (PDF)


Requesting accessible copies of our publications

Your Disability Resource Center or equivalent department may submit an accessibility request for content in a specific format to suit your personal needs. Details on how to submit a request can be found on our Accessibility Resources page. We will endeavor to meet any reasonable accessibility request that we receive.


Your feedback

Our commitment to providing accessible and inclusive content is an ongoing activity. If you have any comments or insights on accessibility that you would like to share with us to help us in this mission, please contact Customer Services.