Digital Accessibility in Learning and Teaching 

Students in a seminar room

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.

The University is committed to ensuring that our learning resources are inclusive to as many learners as possible, and making content accessible enables a better experience to all our learners.

We also need to meet the requirements of new legislation, which stipulates that our content must be accessible for all users, including our students accessing content via our outward facing websites, and our internal facing ones such as Blackboard.

Key facts about the new accessibility regulations 

New accessibility regulations require the following: 

  • Accessibility requirements for documents (e.g. Word files, PDFs, presentations) should be adopted with immediate effect.
  • These standards are easily achievable, mainly entailing commonsense use of text, document structure and labelling of images.
  • Video content published on or after 23 September 2020 should be accessible.
  • The addition of Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) generated captions will satisfy our baseline standards, and we do not require that they are edited up to 100% accuracy.
  • Video content published before 23 September 2020 does not need to be captioned.

How to meet the accessibility standards

Documents, presentations and other 'office files' 

Following the guidance given on the General principles for creating accessible content page will ensure that your documents meet the correct requirements. 

Video content

All video content uploaded to Kaltura and Encore after 21 September 2020 will have captions automatically applied.

Video content uploaded before 21 September 2020 can have captions added retrospectively. Please visit the Creating accessible video page to find out more. 

Live lectures

Live lectures (e.g. those delivered via Blackboard Collaborate) do not have to be captioned. However if they are recorded, and you wish to make these recordings available to students, then they would need to be captioned within 14 days of the live event. This is because after 14 days, they are treated in the same category as other videos. We recommend that you do this by downloading the recording, and uploading it to either Kaltura or Encore.

In order to make our learning resources accessible to as many people as possible, we all need to make a few adjustments to the way we create content. The following resources provide essential guidance on how to do this.

General principles for creating accessible content

This general guidance will apply to a broad range of the learning and teaching materials you have to produce - documents, handouts, notes, presentations - and addresses many accessibility issues to make your content more inclusive. 

More information about the new accessibility legislation

Recent legislative changes require us to take a more proactive approach to ensuring our content is accessible. This means providing accessible resources as normal practice, rather than waiting to be asked for them.

Creating accessible Word documents

Many different types of Word documents are used across the University to support learning and teaching activities. Follow the guidance to ensure they are accessible.

Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations

Presentation slides need to made as accessible as possible for your students, in terms of viewing them on a screen in class, when viewed on a computer and when printed.

Creating accessible Google Docs

Google Docs has built in tools to help people of different abilities to read and produce documents. Find out about how to get the most out of these tools and make documents that are more accessible for everyone. 

Creating accessible Google Slides

Following these tips will enable you to create Google Slides presentations that are more accessible, by making use of appropriate slide layouts, ensuring the reading order is logical for screen readers, and much more. 

Creating accessible content on Blackboard with Ally

Blackboard Ally provides you with guidance and coaching on how to improve the accessibility of your Blackboard course content, such as attachments, images and content items. Learn about accessibility issues, why they matter, and how to fix them.

Creating accessible video

The new accessibility regulations also apply to all pre-recorded audio visual material the University produces. This guidance covers the issues you should consider when creating videos for learning and teaching. 

Creating accessible websites

Many accessibility features are built into website authoring tools, but there are a few important principles to be aware of when creating content for the web.

Mathematics and statistics accessibility

Accessibility and mathematics is a complex area. This guidance pulls together best practice and potential solutions from within the University and other institutions. 

The accessibility of our digital learning tools

This page details some of the accessibility features in place for the University's core digital learning tools.

Digital Accessibility for Students

This page signposts digital accessibility guidance and resources for students, including getting the most out of the accessibility features in Blackboard, and where to access more support.