Information Services

Accessibility Statement

This is the Turnitin service accessibility statement in line with Public Sector Body (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Accessibility statement for Turnitin use at the University

Turnitin is a centrally supported Computer Aided Assessments tool integrated with the Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) at the University of Edinburgh.  It is based on the commercial software application product Turnitin, provided by Turnitin LLC. This statement covers both the student facing and the assessor facing interfaces. As Turnitin is a third party piece of software we have limited control over the changes we can make to it. Turnitin provide detailed information about the Turnitin software application and its accessibility along with a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) on their website.

Detailed Turnitin accessibility information

We want as many staff and students as possible to be able to use this service. You should be able to:

  • Use browser settings can be used to adjust font size to 200%.
  • Navigate most of the website using just a keyboard.
  • Use browser settings to change font and background colours to allow high contrast.

The service is primarily used to upload student assessment files for staff to review similarity with other digital content and marking this means documents and other content can be uploaded which aren’t accessible.  It is therefore important for us to ensure that helpful guidance and training is available to users who create content to minimise the risk of this.

We have completed our own accessibility checking of the software application, and also on our own customisations, and a sample of the content uploaded to the application.  

Customising the website

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

AbilityNet - My computer my way.

With a few simple steps you can customise your browser settings to make it easier to read and navigate.

Information on how to customise browser settings for accessibility.

If you are a member of the University staff or a student you can use the free Sensus Access accessible document conversion service.

SenusAccess Information.


How accessible this service is

This statement refers to core Turnitin functionality.

We know that some parts of the Turnitin application are currently not fully accessible, such as:

  • Spellcheck is not present on all free text boxes.
  • Colour contrasts may not always meet recommended WCAG guidance.
  • Audio added to Turnitin may not have accompanying text alternative.
  • Not all images have alternative text.
  • Pop ups and new windows open without warning.
  • Use of italics and continuous capitals.
  • Not all pages reflow when magnified.
  • Not all content can be magnified.
  • Not all content can be navigated without using a mouse and it can be difficult to tell where you have navigated too sometimes. 
  • There are some issues with the use of screen readers around inconsistent navigation and lack of images being labelled.
  • On the student system there is a time limit.


The service is used to share assessment files, similarity reports and feedback between staff and students which means that staff and students can inadvertently make changes to the system which make it less accessible.  They may also upload documents and other content which isn’t accessible.  


What to do if you can’t access parts of this service

If you need information or content on this service in a different format, like accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille, please contact the IS Helpline:

We will acknowledge your request immediately, and respond within 5 working days.


Within the University, we can:

  • Offer users 1-2-1 sessions to help orientate and navigate the service’s interface, in particular with regard to assistive technology.
  • Offer content in alternative formats.
  • If you are a member of University staff or a student, you can use the free SensusAccess accessible document conversion service. 
  • Provide advice and guidance on using accessibility features in Turnitin and in your operating system.


Reporting accessibility problems with this service

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of this service. If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact: 

We will acknowledge your request immediately, and respond within 5 working days.

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 please contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) directly.

The government has produced information on how to report accessibility issues:


Contacting us by phone using British Sign Language

British Sign Language Scotland runs a service for British Sign Language users and all of Scotland’s public bodies using video relay. This enables sign language users to contact public bodies and vice versa. The service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


Technical information about this service’s accessibility

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

This application is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed in the product VPAT and the list below.

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

Turnitin provide information about the application and its accessibility including a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. You can see this detailed accessibility information on the Turnitin website.

From our own local testing, we found the following issues where the Turnitin application fails to meet the following WCAG  2.1 AA Success Criteria: 

  • Not all non-text content has a text alternative.

Success Criteria 1.1.1 Text Alternatives.

  • When the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning, a correct reading sequence is not always programmatically determined.

Success Criterion 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence.

  • The purpose of each input field collecting information about the user is not always programmatically determined.

Success Criterion 1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose.

  • Colour is used on some occasions to convey information.

Success Criterion 1.4.1 Use of Color.

  • Colour contrasts do not always meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

Success Criterion 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum).

  • Some pages/images cannot be magnified up to 200%.

Success Criterion 1.4.4 Resize text.

  • Sometimes there is use of images of text rather than text.

Success Criterion 1.4.5 Images of Text.

  • When content is magnified you may still have to scroll horizontally as well as vertically.

Success Criterion 1.4.10 Reflow.

  • All functionality of the content is operable through a keyboard interface without requiring specific timings for individual keystrokes.

Success Criterion 2.1.1 Keyboard.

  • There are time limits which are not adjustable.

Success Criterion 2.2.1 Timing Adjustable.

  • Where pages can be navigated sequentially and the navigation sequences affect meaning or operation, focusable components do not always receive focus in an order that preserves meaning and operability.

Success Criterion 2.4.3 Focus Order.

  • The keyboard focus indicator is not always clearly visible.

Success Criterion 2.4.7 Focus Visible.

  • There are occasions where pop-ups and new windows open without warning.

Success Criterion 3.2.2 On Input.

  • Navigation is not always consistent.

Success Criterion 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation.

  • Where an error is identified, possible solutions are not always given.

Success Criterion 3.3.3 Error Suggestion.

  • Not all elements are suitably labelled for computability with assistive software.

Success Criterion 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value.

Use with accessibility software: 

JAWS (a software package that converts text to speech):  the navigation for students did not always follow a logical order and leapt to the left hand side menu – many items were not labelled so just were just referred to as “graphic”. At present a screen reader user would find it highly difficult to use this system.

TextHelp (a software package that can read aloud, magnify, highlight and colour overlay text which supports spelling and grammar checking):  Hover highlight and highlight and read are compatible with the application. Spellcheck facility worked on the free text boxes, apart from the actual marking page itself where TextHelp did not appear to realise a new window with the marking panel had opened.

Zoomtext (a software package that allows text magnification and contrast changing): Zoomtext was able to magnify the pages without distortion. The colour masking functionality had good compatibility and changed the colour contrasts on the pages.

University customisations of the service

The University does not customise the Turnitin integration.

User Added Content

The service receives approximately 250,000 submitted files from staff and students each year.  The accessibility of the content may vary depending on who created the content.  Some user added content may not always meet WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criteria:

  • Some of our PDFs, PowerPoint and Word documents don’t meet accessibility standards - for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader.  


Documentation and guidance provided to support the use of Turnitin

The documentation available to users is a mixture of HTML, Word/PDF documents and video content.

Disproportionate burden

We are not currently claiming that any accessibility problems within our control would be a disproportionate burden to fix. 

Content that is not within the Scope of the Accessibility Regulations

Some of the PDFS or other documents that are not essential to providing our services may not be accessible,  for example, they may not be structured so they’re accessible to a screen reader .The accessibility regulations don’t require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services.

Much of Turitin is out with our control and run by a third party and therefore we are limited in the changes we can make.

How we tested this website

Turnitin was tested by our Disability Information Officer fully in 2020 accessed via the Basic Learn integration (2.8.7).

Turnitin have provided VPAT reports for tests that were carried out in 2019 covering different aspects of the product from a student user perspective.

Turnitin was tested using system using a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer 11 as this is the browser most commonly used by disabled users due to its accessibility features and compatibility with assistive technology, as shown by the Government Assistive Technology Survey.

The testing included:

  • Spellcheck functionality.
  • Data validation and how users are alerted to errors.
  • Scaling using different resolutions and if the pages reflowed.
  • Options to customise the interface (magnification, font and background colour changing etc).
  • Keyboard navigation.
  • Warning of links opening in a new tab or window.
  • Information conveyed in colour or sound only.
  • Flashing or scrolling text.
  • Operability if Javascript is disabled.
  • Use with screen reading software (JAWS).
  • Use with assistive software TextHelp Read and Write and Zoomtext.
  • Where audio/visual content contained subtitles and if these were accurate.
  • Consistency of navigation.
  • Time limits.
  • Access to specialist help.


What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We will continue to work with the supplier, Turnitin, to address the accessibility issues highlighted and deliver a solution or suitable work around.  As a Turntitin is a third party system we have limited ability to make any changes ourselves.

We have developed training and guidance courses for staff which covers creating accessible documents to all students and universal design, and we are continuing to work through our documentation and guidance to make it more accessible.

We will work through all service documentation to ensure it is accessible – including adding captions to any guidance videos which currently don’t have captions.

We will continue to monitor system accessibility and will carry out further accessibility testing as these issues are resolved. Due to the complex nature of the information displayed it may not be possible to resolve all accessibility issues. If this is the case, we will ensure reasonable adjustments are in place to make sure no user is disadvantaged.


Other useful Links

Information Services and accessibility

Information Services (IS) has further information on accessibility including assistive technology, creating accessible documents, and services IS provides for disabled users.

Assistive technology, creating accessible documents, and services IS provides for disabled users.

A-Z list of higher education terms

This glossary includes common abbreviations and acronyms used across the University of Edinburgh website.

A-Z list of higher education terms.


This statement was drafted on 14th July 2020 and last updated on 15th July 2020