Accessible Design

Accessibility icon - an eye, an ear and a handThe University is legally required to meet accessibility standards on its websites, intranets and mobile apps. Most of the standards are good practice, easily achieved and create an improved experience for everyone. Digital Accessibility is important in all aspects of learning and working, including learning or presentation materials, activities, meetings, recruitment and interviews. Learn more about accessibility and find support.

Digital accessibility means that people can access information, learn and do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as others, whether they have a disability or not. To achieve this, content and activities need to be:

  1. Perceivable - available to at least one of the senses (hearing, sight etc),
  2. Understandable - make sense to anyone accessing it,
  3. Operable - people can easily do what they need to do (e.g. navigate through mouse or keyboard),
  4. Robust - work as expected with assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers, that read out loud what is on the screen)

Six things you can do to improve Digital Accessibility

The following apply to most types of content and activities, but you can find more specific guidance for:

If you create Blackboard courses, ensure you build them according to DEO’s core standards and check them with Ally Course Reporting, in addition to your materials and activities being accessible. For assessment, see Alternative Exam Arrangements (AEA).

1. Use accessible tools that can create accessible content and activities

  • Create and deliver your materials and activities in tools that have the capacity to create and support accessible content and activities. Tools recommended by DEO and IT services will usually comply with most accessibility requirements, but please confirm this is the case for any tool you use.
  • If you have materials produced externally, please confirm these will meet accessibility standards.

2. Improve visibility, readability, audibility

  • Colours - Check the contrast between text or graphics and background to ensure accessible choices have been used. Use high contrast for the greatest accessibility. Avoid using colour as the only means to convey information.
  • Text - Prefer sans-serif fonts for most of the text. Avoid capitalizing, underlining or italicising large portions of text. Avoid small font sizes, especially in resources that are difficult to zoom in.
  • Audio – Speak clearly and eliminate background noise.

3. Provide options and alternatives

4. Use clear and meaningful language

  • Links should be descriptive - they should never say “Click here”.
  • Plain English should be used wherever possible. Some nuance is needed for academic content, but consider avoiding figurative speech, homonyms and homophones. If used, identify metaphors as metaphors.
  • Ensure tasks and how to get in touch for any questions are clear.

5. Structure your materials clearly and consistently

  • Headings – use correct Heading structures for clarity, to aid navigation and allow assistive technology to make sense of your materials.
  • Tables - Keep tables simple, avoiding split or merged cells whenever possible.
  • Layout – use consistent layout choices throughout your materials.
  • Distinguish activities from blocks of text and essential information or activities from optional ones.

6. Check your work

  • Use built in accessibility checkers and make suggested changes where appropriate.
  • If using Blackboard, use its Accessibility checker in the content editor and follow the advice given when clicking the Blackboard Ally colour gauge icon next to uploaded materials.

Contact us if you need further advice on digital accessibility.

Useful links