Accessibility & HSS

UWE has a set of core values and one of these values is inclusivity. At UWE Bristol we aim to create a supportive and inspiring place to learn and work. Somewhere where diversity of experience and perspective is encouraged, and learning and research is shared and accessible. In addition to this we have legal responsibilities under the  Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR) to ensure our digital content is inclusive.

Inclusivity in the digital form is referred to as accessibility. Below we have tried to outline the Faculty’s positions on various issues pertaining to accessibility in lieu of a central part of the university taking ownership of this function.

Faculty Captioning Policy Position

Captioning refers to closed captions and usually refers to video content. Although it can refer to live captioning during an event. It will usually take the form of on demand subtitles in the bottom third of a video. These captions can also be added to a video in the editing process and not be optional; this is seen a lot on social media. The PSBAR sets standards for the provision and accuracy of these captions.

The quality expectations and principles for online learning in 2020/21 set out in the summer stated ‘All pictures on the VLE to be provided with ALT text. All videos to be provided with as high as practicable accuracy captioning or alternative formats’.  This is a reflection of the legal duties the institution now has. To elaborate the College’s current position on captioning is; that while we recognize that the auto captioning systems as they exist in 2020/21 fall short of that expected by the regulator and within the regulations, they are the only practicable method of adding captions to video content at the scale we are currently producing it. This scale being a lot higher than we would normally expect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the College’s position that the closed captions provided by automated workflows in Panopto and Teams recordings will suffice for the purposes of teaching and learning in the year 2022/23 or until a better option is tabled.

We would encourage as best practice, where it is practicable, to amend the captions on a video to be as close to 100% accurate as possible . Collaborate recordings are not captioned. We would encourage as best practice, where it is practicable to place videos produced by Collaborate into a system that manages the video with some form of automated captioning. This can be done by exporting the video into Panopto. However, there is no requirement to do either.

Related Resources

Colle Accessible Documentation Policy Position

There are certain changes we can all make to our clerical routines that will make a big difference to everyone. These can be as simple as ensuring a title is in an appropriate format or adding ALT text to an image. These changes, along with the others outlined in the resources section, when put together make a document ‘accessible’. An accessible document is one that is created in a way that it removes a lot of barriers from those trying to consume it. It is simple to do.

These processes can make drafting slightly longer however if a document is well formed it will mean a student or staff member can: adjust it to meet their needs; or use it with appropriate technology to great effect. In addition the tenets of making an accessible document also makes generating things like contents pages easier. This is not only more inclusive it is more efficient in the long run.

We need to produce accessible documents if they are to be hosted on any web platform. Be it the intranet or the VLE. It is the law. During the summer of 2020 certain expectations around accessible documents were set at a College level.

  • All PowerPoint and Word documents stored within the VLE must score above 70% / Green on Blackboard Ally.
  • All pictures on the VLE to be provided with ALT text

This is not optional so to support this the College in the spring of 2020 launched several workshops to address this challenge. Particularly for .doc and .pdf file types. Since these workshops have ended the Learning Development Centre has offered specific workshops to ensure people have access to the appropriate training. Resources for each are below and attendance at a training event should be seen as high priority.

Not all disciplines and subjects have the same challenges when it comes to Accessibility early on in the process we highlighted the stem subjects particularly for College of Health, Science and Society, the science college would have particular challenges around Accessibility given that they use specific scientific notation and In style guidance for writing where I have included a further document that covers this generated by the College Accessibility committee, work led by our own Department of Applied Sciences .

Also included links in the resource section below to specific videos generated by the University in specifically Ghizzi Dunlop from the local Digital Learning Team. These are a great resource to support practice. There is also a framework from a council in the Midlands which has really helpful poster to print out and have on your desk as an aide memoire for creating documents.

Related Resources

College Accessibility Statement Policy Position

As part of the new PSBAR regime UWE to release an ‘Accessibility Statement’ giving an overview of the accessibility of its tools and also a reporting route for students or any other user who wishes to report inaccessible content. The college  is aware the current accessibilities statement is inaccurate and out of date this has been highlighted  as a risk and has been escalated to the directorate of the University as of September 2020.