What is accessible information?
Accessible information is content that is available to as wide an audience as possible. Several things need to be considered when producing information, which include:
- the tools people use to obtain information, e.g. PC, Apple Mac, mobile phone, tablets, assistive technologies etc.
- the format, e.g. web pages, MS Word, PowerPoint, PDF (portable document format) etc
- people's disabilities and how to improve access to our information.
Why is it important?
These considerations are important because education providers have a legal obligation to produce accessible information in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Who is responsible for accessible e-learning?
Everyone is responsible for accessible e-learning. Jane Seale (2006, p196) uses a metaphor to explain the 'rainbow bridge of accessibility':
"The six colours of the rainbow can be equated to the six stakeholders ... students, lecturers, learning technologists, support staff, staff developers and senior managers...No one stakeholder can produce accessible e-learning on their own; it requires all six to work together as a unit, team or community."
Source: Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and disability in higher education: accessibility theory and practice. Routledge: Oxford.
What processes are in place across the University to improve accessible information?
- The University is committed to accessibility on its website and enables visitors to customise fonts and colours on the University site
- User experience consideration is integral to the development of new technologies, e.g. the University's app. Details are explained in the i-Northampton blog
- Accessibility awareness sessions are included during induction for some courses
- A Disability section within the Equality & Diversity module on NILE offers a range of accessibility resources, including good practice for creating Word, PowerPoint and videos on the web
How can you enhance your information?
There are several options available to help you improve the accessibility of your information such as:
- Follow the University's Editorial Style Guide to help retain consistency
- Observe good practice obtained from various resources
- Book an informal session with the Information Accessibility Advisor
- Logon to JISC TechDis 'TechDis Tuesdays', free 30 minute fortnightly workshops where a live 'accessibility clinic' is facilitated on the day's topic.
Where can you find out more information?
For more inforrmation please contact Angela Ashpole, Information Accessibility Advisor. The service includes:
- Visiting staff to demonstrate a screen reader and some of the difficulties experienced by users
- Providing guidance and conducting accessibility testing
- Contributing to event presentations within The University of Northampton and other external organisations.
It is more beneficial to learn how to do this so that subsequent documents produced by people are developed to comply with good practice. Unfortunately time does not allow for documents to be sent to Angela for her to make them accessible.
Angela is also an assessor and ICT Trainer with the Northampton Assessment Centre. This includes training students how to use their assistive technologies that they have received through the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA).