Digital Accessibility Regulations

What is Digital Accessibility?

 

Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities.

Those who find digital technologies hard to access may use ‘assistive software’ to help them. However, it is important that digital resources are presented in a way that enables this software to work and ‘poor digital design can make those assistive tools less effective and hinder the user’s ability to interact with digital content.‘ (Whatis.com, 2016),

What do the Digital Accessibility Regulations mean for me?

image showing person inside a question mark representing what Digital Accessibility means for me

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

 

The focus on this web page is only looking at the Teaching, Learning and Assessment aspect of the Regulations.  From a teaching and learning perspective, this means that content on the VLE, and any other platforms (such as PebblePad) needs to be accessible.  This will include your PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, videos etc.

Compliance:

What do I need to do to comply:

icon showing mortar board on a computer monitor symbolising teaching materials    VLE:

 

The Virtual Learning Environment, currently Blackboard, has accessibility features built in.  Details of these can be found on Blackboard’s web pages.  However, any content that you make available in Blackboard should meet accessibility standards.  This isn’t a difficult or onerous task, and there are some resources below which will help you make your content more accessible.

black and white icon symbolising Blackboard   Teaching Materials:

 

Any content you design needs to be accessible.  This could be as simple as being aware of the contrast of your foreground and background on your Powerpoint presentations, or where you have inserted an image, to use ALT-Text in the properties.  ALT-Text allows screen readers to describe the image.  Some resources that may help can be found below.

icon showing gps pointer symbolising navigation   Navigation and Structure:

 

When you upload content to your module in Blackboard, be consistent in the way that you structure it.  However you decide to lay your module out, ensure that you inform your students how you are structuring it and where they can find their materials, assignments etc.  When creating folders, give them a meaningful name – topic-based is more meaningful than week based (particularly when it comes to revision!)

icon showing pc on desk symbolising electronic availability of materials   Electronic availability of materials:

 

The university has a policy that lecture materials should be available 24 hours in advance.  This was passed by the Learning and Teaching Committee, and the reason for this is to allow students to access the material for accessibility purposes – some may need to change fonts/colours, some may take time to read it, and some may need to read it electronically on their device using a screen reader or magnification software.

How can I make my teaching materials accessible?

 

There is a wealth of information, guides and tutorials available online to help you make your teaching materials accessible.  However, SAILS have put together a very useful Quick Guide on accessible and inclusive materials

 

image of a stack of books symbolising the need to produce materials in an alternative format

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

How can I produce materials in an alternative format?

 

Rather than produce materials in different formats, we would advise that students requiring materials in specific formats should get in touch with their lecturer in the first instance.  We would recommend that if paper colour/font type and size/ spacing needs to be amended, that students be provided with the original document in an electronic format so that they can then edit to their preference in order that they can use the material.  For further information on other things that you are able to do in such cases, please see the SAILS web pages on making resources inclusive and the VLE Minimum with amendments for Inclusive Culture policy from within the resources section below.

Resources:

 

4 different coloured semi-circles surrounding a circle, arranged in a square. Hoping to depict outward-facing unity and also representing round peg in a square hole!

Where can I find support?

 

References:

 

whatis.com. (2016). Whatis.com . Retrieved July 30, 2019, from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/digital-accessibility

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