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A key aspect of ensuring that a programme and class is inclusive is to plan for accessibility so that all students can access the learning opportunities provided.

This resource provides basic guidance on accessibility in learning and teaching, including:

  • Accessibility in lectures
  • Accessibility in seminars, labs and tutorials
  • Accessibility of digital materials
  • Accessibility in assessment

Remember that making learning and teaching more accessible is beneficial to all students.

Best Practice Tips

Accessibility in lectures:

  • Support students who have any difficulties accessing the lecture space (e.g. requesting a change of venue; working with central University services to make the room accessible; etc.)
  • Make lecture materials available 24-48 hours before the lecture. This will help students with physical and learning disabilities as well as giving all students more time to prepare and different options for note-taking during the lecture.
  • As much as you can, ensure that visuals are explained orally (e.g. talk through an image/diagram/equation).
  • As much as you can, ensure that information given orally is outlined in your lecture materials (e.g. bullet points, a word or phrase, a timeline, a framework, etc.).
  • If your lecture is being recorded, try to use visuals that will also be recorded (e.g. use a visualiser when writing free-hand instead of a whiteboard where possible).

Accessibility in seminars, labs and tutorials:

  • Support students who have any difficulties accessing the room (e.g. requesting a change of venue; working with central University services to make the room accessible; etc.)
  • As with lecture materials, make any readings or handouts available well in advance. For materials that are purposefully only distributed during a session, ensure that students have accessible options (see the Accessibility of digital materials section below).
  • Plan how to mitigate for potential issues in advance (e.g. for sight impaired or dyslexic students, working with another student who can read from a handout may help, and would increase everyone’s engagement levels; develop a structure for discussion and interaction that allow students who need more time to express their thoughts to be heard; etc.)

Accessibility of digital materials:

  • Provide materials in a form that can be manipulated (e.g. provided PowerPoints and Word documents in these formats rather than as PDFs). This allows students to make fonts bigger and change colours if needed, and to use accessibility features (e.g. Word will read the text to students at different speeds).
  • Include a description for any non-text elements (images/diagrams/etc.) that are not simply decorative. This can be done in most applications by using the ‘Alt Text’ feature.
  • Use the accessibility checkers provided by the software/platform (e.g. the ‘Check Accessibility’ option in Microsoft applications, Ally in Learn Ultra).
    • Where possible, point students toward digital formats for reading (e.g. online journal articles, e-books provided by the library, etc.) by using the Library reading lists.
    • If providing students with third-party videos, make sure that they include captions or a transcript. If this is not possible, provide a text alternative.
    • If creating your own video or audio materials, provide captions or a transcript.

    Accessibility in assessment:

    • Allowing students to choose from a number of formats of assessment can both help those with disabilities and encourage students to develop a breadth of skills (e.g. given a summative assignment topic, students choose to answer by essay, webpage, presentation, audio or video).
    • Students with declared disabilities can apply for a number of different concessions when taking exams. It is also beneficial to everyone to ensure that the design of exams is as accessible as possible from the outset (e.g. figures are clear and include descriptions; free-hand drawing/labelling can be done digitally; etc).

    Further Reading

    JISC accessibility guidelines

    Accessibility in Learn Ultra

    Microsoft Accessibility Checker