This blog post is to provide an update on the work that has been undertaken over this academic year to raise awareness of the need to create digitally accessible content. The aim is to support staff to develop the skills required and helping them to make simple changes to their practice that will result in more accessible resources to enable all our learners to take part in their learning without having any barriers in their place.
Visits to academic units
33 presentations to academic units have either taken place, or are scheduled to take place in the 2019-20 academic year. The reception from staff to the information in the presentation has been extremely positive with colleagues keen to find out how they can engage with the work to improve accessibility for all. The team are very happy to present at all appropriate forums so if we haven’t visited your area, please get in touch with LTDS and we can arrange this.
Accessibility in Practice Workshop
The “Accessibility in Practice” workshops ran in academic units, and centrally and is always well received. In this workshop we focus on quick wins to create accessible documents. We support staff to use accessibility checkers on documents and, they experience how learners adapt and work with digital content. We explore how SensusAccess can empower students and staff to make the inaccessible accessible. This is a hands-on workshop, staff will take away ideas, check-lists and tools that support inclusive practices. Feedback from staff to the session include:
“Great for someone new to the topic but also still valuable to someone who is aware of the basics.”
“Super practical. Learnt about loads of features I had no idea about.”
“I enjoyed learning about the resources available within Newcastle University and on software such as Office 365, an often ignored topic in teaching training I’ve attended in the past”
Accessibility and Inclusion on the Digital Learning website
There are useful links to many of the resources across the University that will help you make your content more accessible including updated NUIT Guidance, and SensusAccess. Further resources relating to the University approach to accessibility and inclusion are available, including a screencast of the presentation we have been providing to academic units.
By Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, Learning Enhancement and Technology Team Manager
What are the new requirements?
In September 2019, the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 comes into effect in the UK. These regulations attempt to ensure that all students have equal and fair access to learning opportunities without any barriers as a result of a disability. This covers websites, services and content.
The University recognises that compliance with the Regulations will not happen immediately. A staged programme of work will embed training on compliance for new learning and teaching websites/service and content within the existing Learning and Teaching Development Programme which will be available both as open workshops and bespoke school/service based sessions. The trajectory for compliance is detailed below.
What is the University doing for the start of 2019/20?
Each website/system requires an accessibility statement, providing information about the accessibility of individual websites/systems. The Learning and Teaching Development Service will co-ordinate the creation of accessibility statements across all central University learning and teaching systems. This includes Blackboard, MLE, ePortfolio and others. All centrally supported teaching and learning systems will have an accessibility statement by September 2019.
What do academic units/services need to do for the start of 2019/20?
No specific actions are required for the start of the next academic year. Individuals should consider how they can make any new learning and teaching content accessible, and to start to change practice when creating content in readiness for 2020/21.
What will happen in 2019/20 to make us more compliant for 2020/21?
The new Learning and Teaching Development Programme has Accessibility in Practice workshops that support academic and professional services staff in how to create accessible and inclusive learning and teaching resources. There are some simple tools built in to familiar desktop tools, such as Microsoft Office, that will help to create and check the accessibility of resources.
There are some small simple changes staff can make that will help all students on their programme, not only students with a disability. LTDS will prepare a range of online how to guides that will support staff in the creation of accessible documents.
As part of the rollout of the new VLE, LTDS will run a large number of training sessions. The creation of accessible content will be embedded within these sessions.
The Newcastle Education Practice Scheme (NEPS) is the replacement for the CASAP programme. Accessibility and inclusion will be a core element, and the creation of accessible resources will be part of the programme.
We will renew the University site license for Sensus Access which enables staff and students to easily convert documents into an accessible format. Many file formats are supported, including the main Microsoft Office document types. Use of this tool will be built into the workshops detailed above.
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org