At the moment the EU is still  finalising the  details of how its accessibility directive will need to be implemented by universities and colleges but we expect to have details from the UK government in the next couple of months.

However, the indications so far is that this will apply to FE and HE websites (schools are exempt). As soon as we have clearer details we will be disseminating them. You can access the directive toolkit here.

At this time there are few important points to be aware of…

  • The first requirement for this directive will impact any new websites created after 23 September 2018 which must meet the accessibility requirements by 23 September 2019. As projects may already have started for websites and resources that will be launched in the autumn term, its critical that these teams are aware of requirement.
  • The accessibility standard that this directive requires isn’t just for websites, it also includes online documents (e.g. PDFs, PowerPoint files) and in the future it will also cover intranets and mobile apps.
  • The directive also covers websites and tools that public bodies procure so your procurement teams within IT, the library, faculties etc need to be aware and asking suppliers how the confirm to this directive.

Alistair McNaught (from JISC) and I will be delivering a session at the NADP conference in June on “Achieving digital accessibility in Further and Higher Education” so we will be covering this directive in more detail. And once we have clarity from the EU and UK government about the processes for monitoring websites and other technical issues, we will also be disseminating training resources.

Although this may sound like more work, as disability professionals I believe this will help us raise the profile of digital accessibility within our institutions and engage with the procurement and technical staff who need to implement this directive. The outcome will hopeful be a more inclusive and accessible teaching, learning and working environment for all of us involved with Further and Higher Education.

Dr Abi James
Research Fellow Accessibility Team, WAIS, ECS University of Southampton, Consultant, Assistive Learning Ltd, BDA New Technologies committee.

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