Accessibility legislation – what it means for Leeds

Read about the new legislation and what it means for teaching materials posted online, our websites and our systems.

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In September 2018, the government introduced legislation and regulations on accessibility standards that public sector websites will need to meet. Making a website or mobile app accessible means making sure it can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities; or
  • deafness or impaired hearing.

The legislation sets an expectation that:

  • new websites launched after September 2018 needed to comply by September 2019;
  • older websites need to comply by 23 September 2020; and
  • mobile apps need to comply by June 2021.

What this means for Leeds

All our websites and web-based systems and mobile apps are subject to this legislation. It covers our public-facing websites and also some of our internal systems, including Minerva and online teaching materials, such as PowerPoint slides, Word documents and also lecture recordings.

Meeting these accessibility standards will benefit all users. For example, technology that reads web pages is similar to voice-activated services, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, so making web pages machine readable helps voice search.

Other examples include adding captions to video. This will help someone with hearing loss and also anyone watching a video in a noisy environment.

What we’re doing

The legislation focuses on essential services and the Government Digital Service is providing advice on how to approach compliance and prioritise effort. At Leeds, we are committed to providing an inclusive environment and ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities.

We have already completed an assessment based on a sample of our websites, to better understand the work we need to do. The results of that assessment have informed our accessibility statement, published in September 2019.

Our next steps are to:

  • update the University’s websites to improve accessibility, including design adjustments and reducing use of PDFs;
  • look at our web-based systems, such as Minerva and some of the systems we’ve developed ourselves – we’re already talking to suppliers about this work;
  • develop advice and support, working with the Inclusive Learning and Teaching Development (ILTD) project, to support colleagues make their teaching materials accessible. The support will accompany the roll out of Blackboard Ally in 2020, that will help colleagues understand if the teaching materials they upload to Minerva are accessible; and
  • pilot automated captions on lecture recordings, ready for rollout in September 2020.

Changes to our websites, and the content on them, will be delivered in the coming months. Project managers will be working with website owners to schedule those changes.

What you can do

During the coming months, we’ll be publishing more information and guidance. But if you’d like to find out more and look at how you can improve accessibility now, there are several resources available:

Further updates on accessibility will be published on For Staff. If you are keen to connect with colleagues interested in this topic, please join our web accessibility group on Yammer

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