HE/Public Sector Update: How Cardiff Metropolitan University meets accessibility targets

"There is a project alongide a digital accessibility focus project that's been conducted by my colleague and that's looking at NSS students amongst students with earning difficulties and generated useful data on disclosure rates and students that are disclosing and who aren't." Annie Horn from Cardiff Met university discussed the establishments' strategy for a more accessible learning process in our webinar.

We also learned from Annie Horn, Learning Support Manager at Cardiff Metropolitan University about how she worked with others to identify accessibility needs and make changes to the University's processes and procedures to meet the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (PSBAR) regulations deadline in September last year.

Highlight from the webinar

Annie chatted with Alistair McNaught of McNaught Consultancy, about what priorities were set to help Annie and her team focus their accessibility work, and create manageable steps to change. Information about AbilityNet's dedicated online training for Higher and Further Education professionals were also shared in the webinar below. 

Who will benefit from this free webinar?

This webinar is for anyone working in the public sector, particularly those in a higher or further education setting, and those working on creating online content.

The webinar lasted for one hour and included a question and answer session. 

Webinar recording, slides and transcript

All our webinars are recorded and this session's recording, along with transcript, slides and Q&As are now published below.

Questions and answers from the webinar

The speakers have been able to provide answers to some of the questions posed by attendees during the webinar that weren't able to be answered during the live session:

Question: Are there specific accessibility guidelines targeted for mobile applications? Is there a link to the forthcoming mobile accessibility statement requirement(s)?

Amy Low (AL): The guidelines are the same for web and mobile although testing methodologies do differ. The BBC has created some mobile specific guidelines that can be useful: Mobile Accessibility Guidelines AbilityNet runs a training course on Accessibility testing in mobile apps which may be of interest.
Similarly the example accessibility statement for mobile apps from GOV.uk is the same as websites so you will just need to tailor that one: Sample accessibility statement (for a fictional public sector website from GOV.uk.

Alistair McNaught (AM): Also worth being aware of the guidance Mobile Accessibility: How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile which explores some of the issues in more detail.

Q: I’m potentially working on a website project for a public-funded organisation. Can you recommend a good place for guidance on what needs to be addressed/followed

AL: GOV.uk has some really good advice Accessibility regulations – Understanding accessibility requirements for public sector websites and apps. The W3C website has all the WCAG guidelines and other useful information, too: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview | Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) | W3C.
Our series of webinars on the Public Sector regulations can be found on our website. Our upcoming training session on Embedding accessibility at every stage of your project may also be of interest.

AM: It's also worth exploring the “personas” approach to help you consider the actual user needs – see Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) resources to remind us of the real purpose behind WCAG standards.
The UK Government provides another set of profiles highlighting common barriers users face when accessing digital services - as well as tips for designing services everyone can use. 

Q: Can you send the JISC mailing list mentioned by Alistair?

AL: Digital accessibility regulations for education can be found on the JiscMail group: you can sign up to the Digital Accessibility Regulations list via the Jisc website. Also a sign up to the Teams group is here: Accessibility Community - request to join.

Q: Is there any other elated legislation outside of the PSBAR that we need to be aware of?

Suggestion from attendee: GDPR and Section 508 US and ADA US, and other international if you have international exposure?

AM: In terms of meeting baseline I’d suggest conformance with WCAG2.1AA would currently be the safest option since it is the most international and the most technology agnostic. However, the EU web accessibility directive (from which our PSBAR legislation derives) is pegged dynamically to the latest version of the WCAG standards so 2.1 will shortly be replaced by WCAG2.2 when this is fully fledged.

Q: How do you reach your students who require assistive technology?

Annie Horn (AH): We make use of DSA funding as much as possible, having a registered assessment centre within the student services team makes it easy to ask for additional recommendations if students find their initial package isn’t working in the way they need it to or come across other helpful AT through study skills sessions etc. We also have text to speech and mindmapping software networked across the site (students can access this off site on their own devices via remote desktop) and loan equipment. Where students are identified as requiring AT but are not eligible for DSA this is funded by the Cardiff Met directly at a level equitable with what would be expected from DSA.

Q: Have you taken any accessibility issues to software providers - eg captions in MS Stream? If so, what has their reaction been?

AH: We have done this and the reactions have been mixed, I think it generally depends on where they are based as if it is an International provider there is little push to meet our regulations, however EU/UK based providers are usually fairly on board. The difficulty lies with differing interpretations of the regulations so we have had some issues around this. In the main they are happy to provide accessibility statements but the testing process is not always as rigorous as we like so we tend to repeat the work ourselves and are developing a bank of statements that teams can adapt/publish depending on what aspects of various platforms are applicable to them. It is an ongoing work in some areas though and we have relied on cross University networks in Wales, especially with regards to library catalogues, as this can give a greater impetus to suppliers. (We also encounter some difficulties meeting welsh language requirements alongside accessibility issues so collaboration helps find consistent solutions).

Q: Who are the stakeholders involved in an accessibility review process at CMU?

AH: In our project team we have representation from Student Services, Secretariat (including compliance), Quality Enhancement, Communications and Marketing, Information Systems, Library Services and Academic Schools. We also have workstreams that focus on systems and communications and academic specific content and provides more practical context for the ongoing work. Members of the workstreams roughly replicate the main team but include more staff at various levels across the institution. We have also involved students at various points within the project such as auditing current content and compiling resources.

For additional information read answers to frequently asked questions about AbilityNet webinars.

Find out more about our AbilityNet Live webinar series.

Find out more about Meeting accessibility regulations at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Date of webinar: 
23 Feb 2021 - 13:00