Website accessibility statement
We want our websites to be as open and inclusive as they can be. That means they are available to the widest possible audience.
This website is run by The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London. In accordance with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 No. 952, we expect all our users will be able to:
- change colours, contrast levels and fonts
- zoom in up to 200% without the text spilling off the screen
- navigate most of the website using just a keyboard
- listen to most of the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)
We've also worked on making the content of our websites as simple as possible to understand. We write in plain English and explain scientific terms wherever possible.
If you experience any difficulties accessing the content of this website, please contact us and a member of our team will assist you.
For more information on how to make your device easier to use if you have a disability, see this AbilityNet guide.
This page was last updated in September 2020 and provides information on:
- what to do if you can't access one of our websites
- websites owned and operated by the Natural History Museum
- how accessible our websites are
- how we have tested our websites
- what we are doing to improve
- reasons for non-compliance
- how we prepared this accessibility statement
What to do if you can't access one of our websites
If you need information on this website in a different format, please contact us.
Feedback from our users is an important part of making sure that our websites work for you. If you can't access any part of our websites, or experience any accessibility problems, please get in touch and a member of our web team will get back to you.
You can call our contact centre on +44 (0)20 7942 5000. Lines are open Monday-Sunday 9.00-17.00.
You can also email us via our enquiries form.
If you contact us with a complaint and you're not happy with our response, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).
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').
Websites owned and operated by the Natural History Museum
The following websites are owned and operated by the Museum:
- the main website (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/)
- the online shop (https://www.nhmshop.co.uk/)
- the Wildlife Photographer of the Year site (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy/)
- the Data Portal (https://data.nhm.ac.uk)
- the Natural History Museum blog (https://naturalhistorymuseum.blog/)
- the Naturenauts game (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/naturenauts)
- scientific databases and art collections under nhm.ac.uk
- Wallace Letters Online (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/scientific-resources/collections/library-collections/wallace-letters-online/index.html)
- Museum Archives Online Catalogue (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/CalmView/)
- Library and Archive service (https://nhm.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/)
- the Museum Lives legacy site (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/science-facilities/cahr/projects-partnerships/museum-lives/index.html)
- older pages under nhm.ac.uk/research-curation
How accessible our websites are
The Natural History Museum is committed to making its websites accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
Our websites are currently partially accessible, but we are working to make them fully accessible.
Most of our websites are partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, but there are some areas of our sites that do not currently meet this because of the non-compliances and exemptions listed below.
We know we could make our website more accessible by fixing the following:
- some headings and page structures are not consistent
- some images that are used as links do not have alternative text available
- some form fields do not have labels that can be read by a screen reader
- older applications, such as scientific databases, are missing labels from navigational elements and alternative text from images
- some components within our webpages do not work as well as they should at higher screen magnification settings
- it's not possible to change the line height or spacing of text
- it's not possible to skip to the main content when using a screen reader
- video and audio content does not always have text content available as an alternative
- some third-party tools we use to help provide our digital services are not fully accessible to screen reader and keyboard users
- many documents are in PDF format and are not accessible
How we have tested our websites
To test the main website for accessibility improvements, we have:
What we are doing to improve
We are always making updates to make our sites more accessible.
Some key updates we have made include changes to the visual design of the main website. Headings and links are now easier to see. We have made submenus and navigation easier to use by adding accessible labels and making sure they work when the screen is magnified.
Alternative text is now available on all images that need it, and all new images that we add to the site have alternative text. Screen reader users can now skip images that are purely decorative.
Reasons for non-compliance
In some places, parts of our website are not yet compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard.
These include the following:
Principle 1: Perceivable
- In some of our older scientific databases and art collections, alternative text is not provided for images and navigational icons. This fails WCAG success criteria 1.1.1. We're aiming to fix this by the end of 2020.
- We haven't provided text transcripts or audio descriptions to help those with visual impairments to understand what is happening in some of our videos and audio content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 1.2.3 and 1.2.5.
- Our live video events, such as Nature Live Online, do not have captions. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.4.
- Due to the way our pages are built, some headings and structures do not follow the ideal order. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1.
- Our Naturenauts game only works on a portrait orientation. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.4.
Principle 2: Operable
- We do not currently have a way for keyboard and screen reader users to bypass the header navigation for the main page content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.1. We are aiming to fix this by September 2020.
- Our home page does not currently have a clear page title. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.2. We are aiming to fix this by September 2020.
- Not all of our links have a clearly defined purpose accessible to screen reader users. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4. We are aiming to fix this by the end of 2020.
- In some cases we have used headings to emphasise text. This means that not all headings describe a topic or purpose. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.6. We are aiming to introduce a separate design for emphasised text into our website and begin implementing this by the end of 2020.
- There are some components where the keyboard focus isn't clearly indicated. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 2.4.7. We are aiming to fix this by September 2020.
Principle 3: Understandable
- On some of our older scientific databases, the language of the page has not been set. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 3.1.1.
- Not all of our form fields have accessible labels. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criteria 3.3.2. We are aiming to fix this by the end of 2020.
We've looked into the cost and resources needed to fix the issues above. We believe that some of these issues would be too costly to fix right now. They are what's known as a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations.
When we are doing other work on these areas, we will make them more accessible at the same time.
Below are the areas, and their issues, that we believe are a disproportionate burden to fix right now.
The way in which our main website content is built makes it difficult to apply a consistent heading structure. We are working to resolve this in the majority of cases, but there may be some pages on which the heading structure is not consistent with the WCAG 2.1 standards. To fix this entirely would mean a complete rebuild of the site.
Fixed orientation of the Naturenauts game
The Naturenauts game was designed and built to work only in portrait orientation. To make it work on both landscape and portrait orientations would require a redesign and rebuild of the game.
Content that's not within the scope of the accessibility regulations
Some of the content included on our websites does not fit within the scope of the accessibility regulations. This includes:
Pre-recorded media published before 23 September 2020
We have not provided text transcripts or audio descriptions to help those with visual impairments understand what is happening in some of our videos and audio content. While we'll ensure that pre-recorded media content published after 23 September 2020 has text transcripts and audio descriptions available, we are not able to implement this for all pre-recorded media already published.
Live audio and video
Our live video events, such as Nature Live Online, do not have captions. We do not have the resources to provide a live captioning service during these events.
Heritage collections like scanned manuscripts
We have made transcripts and alternative text available where possible on our archived collections, art collections and scientific databases, but this is not available on all of our digital heritage collections.
PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018
Many of our PDFs and other documents were published before 23 September 2018, and are therefore exempt from the accessibility regulations.
We are working to ensure that documents published after this date and in future are accessible.
Third party content under someone else's control
We use a number of third-party services on our website, including:
- Interact (quiz software)
- Soundcloud (audio content)
- Google Maps (interactive maps)
- Flockler (social media feed collation)
- YouTube (video content)
- Twitter (Twitter feed display)
- GetSiteControl (subscription pop-ups)
- HotJar (survey pop-ups)
The design and implementation of these are not under our control, and therefore they are exempt from the accessibility regulations. However, we make them accessible where we can and raise any other issues with these suppliers.
For maps in particular, we always make location information available in an accessible way via an address, so that the map is not the only way of obtaining information.
Preparation of this accessibility statement
This statement was prepared on 14 September 2020. It was last reviewed on 30 September 2020.
This website was last tested in June 2020. The test was carried out by members of the Digital Media team at the Natural History Museum.
We chose sample pages to test that included all the components and templates we use across the site. We used both the WAVE and aXe tools to find and assess compliance errors. We also reviewed the sample pages for issues not recognised by automated test tools, but that we believed to be making the experience more difficult for users of assistive technologies.