This post accompanies a workshop led by Ben Watson (Head of Digital Accessibility at UCL (University College London) and Martin Compton (UCL Arena). In it are resources we will be using in the session. But please do read and try the linked activities for yourself even if you are not attending! The session is designed to raise awareness of what digital accessibility means and what a UCL approach to digital accessibility requires us to know and to do. The workshop is also an opportunity for us to pilot aspects of an (in-development) Accessibility Engagement Tool. The tool is being designed to help colleagues discuss their accessibility engagement and get clear direction on what they can do to further improve the accessibility of their teaching. The goal is to enable colleagues to set some clear digital accessibility goals irrespective of their starting point.
Accessibility in its broadest sense is about making activities, environments, and information as useable and meaningful as possible in ways that do not exclude people. It is about empowerment, about minimising frustration and about effective anticipatory design. Digital accessibility therefore ‘provides ramps and lifts into information.’ It includes ensuring that all information we create at UCL can be seamlessly consumed by everyone that wishes to access it. As UCL’s digital accessibility policy is rolled out, we hope that we can help demystify aspects of digital accessibility
The accessibility engagement model and accompanying self-assessment tool are being designed to enable colleagues to plot their own level according to a series of questions about aspects of digital accessibility. The idea will be that through series of questions related to:
- Values and beliefs
- Knowledge and skills
- Actions and behaviours
…the tool will plot an overall position as well as noting areas of developmental or resourcing need. As we have shaped this model one area that has led to much discussion, consultation and head scratching are the labels we are appending to levels. As a starting point we propose six levels of ‘maturity status’ and invite colleagues to decide which level they are currently at:
Accessibility Engagement Model
|Level||Accessibility Maturity Status||Characteristics and indicative practices|
|0||Unwilling||Context means that this is not prioritised in current working environment given competing commitments and pressures.
Time is a key point of resistance.
|1||Unable||Don’t know where to start and/or in need of direction, support, and prioritisation.|
|2||Reluctant compliant||Awareness of accessibility principles and drivers; only adopting bare minimum when encouraged.|
|3||Willing compliant||Awareness of accessibility design principles; willingly adopting good basic level of accessibility.|
|4||Ally||Connected to wider pedagogical values; allies are vocal on behalf of students. Role model or provide case studies/ templates for others in their departments.|
|5||Champion and Co-creator||Activists/ innovators who work with students to understand and design more accessible approaches and resources. Potential contributors to institutional policy and strategy.|
Digital accessibility behaviours
Whilst the questions and tool are still under construction, for now we invite colleagues to use the Mentimeter linked below to respond briefly to some ‘actions / behaviours’ statements.
Please access the Mentimeter so that you can (anonymously) assess your behaviours against a number of statements. For each statement you are able to choose from 0-5 as follows
0. Not on my radar
1. Would if I knew how
2. Rarely or if required
5. Yes! And support others
The statements in the slides can also be seen below.
- I use descriptive hyperlinks rather than ‘click here’ or unconcealed links
- I ensure that visual materials are conveyed effectively to those who cannot see them using alternative text descriptions and audio descriptions
- I ensure my documents are navigable with a structured set of headings
- I ensure tables are easy to read and have clear heading rows
- I enable automatic speech recognition captions in all multimedia
- I enable automatic speech recognition captions in all multimedia and make corrections to them
- I offer a range of formats for my materials e.g., PDF, html and docx
- I signpost students to assistive technologies so that they can have more support accessing materials
- I share electronic content with students (such as slides) ahead of teaching sessions
- I accessibility check my documents before finalising them
- I explain acronyms when I use them
- I check my work for colour contrast issues