Digital Accessibility

Icons of an eye, ear and hand depicting disabilities.An estimated one in five people living in the UK have a disability, including around eight million people of working age. Many of our students will be included in these numbers.

The Social Model of Disability proposes that it’s the barriers and attitudes society places, both purposefully and inadvertently, which disables those unable to work around them.

The Equalities Act 2010 requires us to make reasonable adjustments to support learners who have an accessibility requirement. More recent regulations now require websites, intranets and mobile apps for public sector organisations to meet accessibility standards. These legal requirements also cover institutions overseen/funded by public sector bodies, such as Universities.

It may feel like a daunting task ensuring that the materials you create are accessible, but most of the standards are good practice and easily achieved. Tools such as Microsoft Office have accessibility checkers built into them. Blackboard Ally gives you practical advice around improving materials you’ve uploaded into Blackboard.

Ensuring your digital content is clear, concise and accessible creates an improved learning experience for everyone.

Five things you can do to improve Digital Accessibility

1. Structure Your Materials

2. Use meaningful language

3. Use Colour and Contrast

4. Check your work

5. Provide alternatives

Resources and further reading

The Digital Education Office hosted a series of Digital Accessibility events in 2019/2020 focusing on specific accessibility requirements. Each session had a Digital Accessibility specialist from AbilityNet talking about their lived experience of the subject. The following links contain recordings of the sessions as well as a series of Top Tips for each theme:

Creating Accessible Documents in Microsoft Office - online training around using built in Office accessibility features and tools. Sign in using your and follow the single sign on instructions.

Poet Image description - examples and practice on how to describe images 

Digital Education Rubric for Online Course Spaces – practical advice for digital teaching spaces including good practice and accessibility.

Home Office Do’s and Don’ts for Accessibility – a visual guide to best practice when creating accessible materials

UCL Accessibility Fundamentals – simple steps to make content accessible for everyone from UCL.

Microsoft Office - video guides to help you make your emails, documents, presentations and spreadsheets accessible.

Adobe PDF – guidance to ensure PDF files are accessible. Note that PDFs may still be inaccessible to some assistive technology and an alternative format should always be available, for example in Word format.

Accessibility Regulations – What You Need to Know – JISC legal advice on how recent accessibility regulations affect UK Universities and Colleges.

Lexdis Digital Accessibility – A digital accessibility toolkit to help universities and public sector organisations implement better digital accessibility.

Accessibility and Me – a series of interviews with people with access needs.

OU Digital Standards for Page Content – The Open University accessibility guide for page content.