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Accessibility in Education

Accessibility in education is essential for creating an inclusive environment where every student can access and engage with learning materials. Ensuring all of our teaching is accessible benefits all users, and fulfils our legal obligations.

Learning about accessibility can often seem overwhelming. To assist you in this process, the links and information provided below offer a range of resources designed to help you. These include step-by-step guides, best practices, and tools for evaluating and enhancing the accessibility of your digital content.

This page provides a concise introduction to accessibility and its practical implications for educators. It draws upon the Equality Act (2010) and aims to offer guidance and information. While every effort has been made to make sure it's accurate, no liability is accepted regarding the application of this information under the Equality Act (2010).

These resources may evolve in response to changes in available technology and best practice.

Note: When supporting learners who have declared visual impairments, neurodiversity, or other learning difficulties, it is best practice to engage with them directly to understand their specific needs. Avoid assuming that all learners with similar conditions will require identical adjustments. When in doubt, reach out!

Best Practice for Developing Your Teaching

Here are some of the areas of best practice we ask everyone to adopt in their teaching. For help and support, we have signposted to resources and help available to you below.

Background Colour and Contrast

Slides and documents should have a pastel-coloured background to eliminate glare, and to be inclusive for students with a range of neurodevelopmental conditions. Best practice is to avoid white backgrounds. Ensuring an adequate contrast ratio between the background and text is also important for readability, while also avoiding colour combinations that remain distinguishable for users with various types of colour blindness. Opting for pastel colour or off-white backgrounds with high-contrast text is the best practice.

Visual Content and Alt Text

When using images, SmartArt graphics, shapes, charts, or embedded objects, you should provide alternative text descriptions (alt text). Look for the integrated Accessibility symbol on Microsoft programmes which will help you do this (and can auto-generate content). This practice benefits all learners, not just those with declared visual impairments.

Consider the type of image and provide appropriate descriptions. For informative images, offer a summary of the image's purpose. Complex images like graphs require detailed descriptions, including axes, trends, and key points. Decorative images do not need alt text but may benefit from null text alternatives.

When images are used as links, describe the link's functionality rather than the image itself. Avoid using images of text whenever possible (as this can be an issue for some screen readers), and if necessary, ensure the alt text matches the image text.

Text-Based Resources

Ensure text-based resources are universally accessible, assuming potential readers may have visual impairments, dyslexia, or other learning difficulties. You must use proper headings/titles. You should also use short sentences, plain language, common fonts, and appropriate list formatting.

Provide meaningful descriptions for important images within the text. Test documents with screen reader software for accessibility.

Video and Audio Resources

While much of the accessibility guidance is best practice, creating accessible video and audio resources is legally mandated based on WCAG standards. Pre-recorded video content post-September 23, 2020, must have equivalent alternatives such as transcripts and captions. 

Ensure modern formats for video and audio files, good colour contrast, appropriate text size and font, and avoid flashing content. Transcripts and captions can be generated using various software, but accuracy may vary, and should therefore be corrected manually.

File format

You should give consideration to how students have access to their learning in terms of file format, and this is likely to vary dependent on the user. Powerpoint files uploaded to Moodle can be downloaded in a range of accessible formats, such as PDFs. However, it is important to note that this feature does not compensate for files that do not contain Alt Text, proper heading structure etc, so your files must be accessible before being uploaded for maximal impact.

Websites and Web Pages

Refer to the following checklist kindly pulled together by IT services relating to accessibility considerations when designing websites and web pages. Link to IT accessibility web checklist. 

Warwick resources

Note: web links with a padlock icon signify that the content can only be accessed by people with a valid Warwick IT login.

External resources