Skip to main content Accessibility Statement
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

This page brings together a range of resources to support you in using technology to make your teaching more inclusive. In the short term, there is an emphasis on ensuring that online materials comply with the forthcoming web accessibility regulations. Here you will find practical tools that you may find immediately valuable in relation to that work, including sample accessibility statements. There are also reference materials that you can dip into as necessary.

  • Important New Accessibility Regulations | Association for Learning Technology
    This blog post has been based on ‘Accessible Virtual Learning Environments: Making the most of new regulations’ (All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT), Sep 2018), with supplementary information and comments.
  • A Review of the Digital Accessibility FutureLearn Course | Association for Learning Technology
    Have you ever tried using your computer with your eyes closed? Or with your ears blocked? Or with your screen playing up? For many users, this isn’t something they ‘try’ doing – it’s their everyday reality of using a computer. If you ever find using a computer frustrating, just try to imagine how much more difficult it may be if one of your senses or your movement is impaired.
    Inclusive practices through digital accessibility | Christina Moore
    Christina Moore discusses inclusive practices through digital accessibility on episode 293 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.
  • Ensure Zoom Meetings Are Accessible To All Participants | Pamela Hogle, eLearning Industry
    When moving training, meetings, or social gatherings to Zoom | , ensure that all participants can see, hear, and fully participate—coach them on Zoom's accessibility features if necessary.

  • Accessibility community group | Jisc
    Connect with peers to learn more about meeting accessibility regulations and co-create resources to avoid duplicating work.

  • Working with British Sign Language (BSL) users and BSL/English interpreters remotely for online meetings | University of Edinburgh
    A practical guide to working with BSL users and interpreters before, during, and after online meetings.
  • Supporting student transitions into and through online learning | Enhancement Themes
    This is a guide to a set of resources for tutors to use with students in further or higher education of any level who are starting or continuing an online learning experience. The resources cover four themes:
    • 1. Being an effective online learner: academic time management, independent learning, motivation and self-regulation
    • 2. Working with others online: working in groups, and effective communications with peers and tutors
    • 3. Learning effectively with technology: ICT proficiency, and how technology can help online learners
    • 4. Being a responsible online learner: managing an online digital identity, being professional online, and protecting data and privacy rights online.
  • Sample accessibility statement | UK Government
    Sample accessibility statement for a fictional public sector website or app, including sample wording and guidance on what to include.
  • Accessibility statements across the UK | Lexdis
    A dataset capturing organisations that have accessibility statements, whether those statements are compliant with regulatory requirements, and other information.
  • Diagram center | Poet Training Tool
    We have an unprecedented opportunity to ensure all content that is ‘born digital’ is also ‘born accessible’ so that all readers have access to the information they need. Use the interactive features on this website to determine when additional details are necessary and what makes for a good description.
  • UDL on campus | Universal Design for Learning
    Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework that guides the design of learning goals, materials, methods, and assessments as well as the policies surrounding these curricular elements with the diversity of learners in mind.
  • searchBOX | textBOX digital
    searchBOX is a free and comprehensive directory created by textBOX to help librarians and disability service officers source accessible content.
  • HE and FE Accessibility Maturity Model | AbilityNet and McNaught Consultancy
    This Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) Accessibility Maturity Model, created by AbilityNet and McNaught Consultancy, enables you to judge the maturity of your organisation's digital accessibility.

  • Adapting online learning resources for all: planning for professionalism in accessibility | Patrick McAndrew, Robert Farrow, Martyn Cooper
    Online resources for education offer opportunities for those with disabilities but also raise challenges on how to best adjust resources to accommodate accessibility. Automated reconfiguration could in principle remove the need for expensive and time-consuming discussions about adaptation. On the other hand, human-based systems provide much needed direct support and can help understand options and individual circumstances. A study was carried out within an EU-funded accessibility project at The Open University (OU) in parallel with studies at three other European universities. The study combined focus groups, user-testing, management consultation and student survey data to help understand ways forward for accessibility. The results reinforce a holistic view of accessibility, based on three factors: positioning the university as a positive provider to disabled students; developing processes, systems and services to give personal help; and planning online materials which include alternatives. The development of a model that helps organisations incorporate professionalism in accessibility is described, though challenges remain. For example, a recurrent difficulty in providing adequate self-description of accessibility needs implies that a completely automated solution may not be attainable. A more beneficial focus, therefore, may be to develop systems that support the information flow required by the human ‘‘in the loop.’’
  • Using multimedia to enhance the accessibility of the learning environment for disabled students: reflections from the Skills for Access project | David Sloan, John Stratford, Peter Gregor
    As educators’ awareness of their responsibilities towards ensuring the accessibility of the learning environment to disabled students increases, significant debate surrounds the implications of accessibility requirements on educational multimedia. There would appear to be widespread concern that the fundamental principles of creating accessible web-based materials seem at odds with the creative and innovative use of multimedia to support learning and teaching, as well as concerns over the time and cost of providing accessibility features that can hold back resource development and application. Yet, effective use of multimedia offers a way of enhancing the accessibility of the learning environment for many groups of disabled students. Using the development of ‘Skills for Access’, a web resource supporting the dual aims of creating optimally accessible multimedia for learning, as an example, the attitudinal, practical and technical challenges facing the effective use of multimedia as an accessibility aid in a learning environment will be explored. Reasons why a holistic approach to accessibility may be the most effective in ensuring that multimedia reaches its full potential in enabling and supporting students in learning, regardless of any disability they may have, will be outlined and discussed.
  • Embedding accessibility and usability: considerations for e-learning research and development projects | Martyn Cooper, Chetz Colwell, Anne Jelfs
    This paper makes the case that if e-learning research and development projects are to be successfully adopted in real-world teaching and learning contexts, then they must effectively address accessibility and usability issues; and that these need to be integrated throughout the project. As such, accessibility and usability issues need to be made explicit in project documentation, along with allocation of appropriate resources and time. We argue that accessibility and usability are intrinsically inter-linked. An integrated accessibility and usability evaluation methodology that we have developed is presented and discussed. The paper draws on a series of mini-case studies from e-learning projects undertaken over the past 10 years at the Open University.
  •  The development of accessibility practices in e-learning: an exploration of communities of practice | Jane Seale
    The UK’s 2001 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act has charged learning technologists with the responsibility of ensuring that electronic teaching materials can be accessed by disabled students. In an attempt to explore how learning technologists are developing practices to produce accessible electronic materials this paper will present a review of the accessibility literature and identify key issues that may influence the ‘accessibility’ practices of learning technologists. These emerging issues are interpreted using Wenger’s theory of communities of practice, with a particular emphasis on the development of accessibility practices that may be shared by a number of related communities of practices and on how the focus of accessibility practices may soon shift from the product to the process of accessibility.
  • Holistic approaches to e-learning accessibility | Lawrie Phipps and Brian Kelly
    This research paper emphasises the need to consider pedagogic and contextual issues along with technical and resource related aspects of e-learning. The authors propose a holistic framework and illustrate its practical application through examples and case studies.
  • 10 simple rules for supporting a temporary online pivot in higher education | Emily Nordmann, Chiara Horlin, Jacqui Hutchison, Jo-Anne Murray, Louise Robson, Michael Seery and Jill MacKay
    As continued COVID-19 disruption looks likely across the world, perhaps until 2021, contingency plans are evolving in case of further disruption in the 2020-2021 academic year. This includes delivering face-to-face programmes fully-online for at least part of the upcoming academic year for new and continuing cohorts This temporary pivot will necessitate distance teaching and learning across almost every conceivable pedagogy, from fundamental degrees to professionally accredited ones. Each institution, programme, and course will have its own myriad of individualised needs , however, there is a common question that unites us all: how do we provide teaching and assessment to students in a manner that is accessible, fair, equitable, and provides the best learning whilst acknowledging the temporary nature of the Pivot? No ‘one size fits all’ solution exists and many of the choices that need to be made will be far from simple, however, this paper provides a starting point and basic principles to facilitate discussions taking place around the globe by balancing what we know from the pedagogy of online learning with the practicalities imposed by this crisis.

  • Web Accessibility Tutorials | Web Accessibility Initiative
    This collection of tutorials shows you how to develop web content that is accessible to people with disabilities, and that provides a better user experience for everyone.


 

Accessibility, widening participation, and online learning | Jill Mackay, University of Edinburgh
In this short video, Jill Mackay highlights some common barriers to engagement with online learning, and explains how these might be addressed during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.