HE/Public Sector Update: Winning hearts and minds for accessibility

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This webinar took place on Tuesday 1 December 2020, 1pm GMT. 

Digital accessibility improvements don’t make themselves, so before you can be confident of establishing lasting accessibility practices at your organisation, you probably need to do some work on engaging staff with accessibility improvements.
In this webinar, learn about the experiences of Katey Hugi, Digital Accessibility Coordinator. She has been working with the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, and Cambridge Judge Business School to engage staff with digital accessibility improvements, with great success. Katey explains her approach to rolling out accessibility training programmes, techniques for encouraging accessibility best practices, and how she drives enthusiasm for ongoing digital inclusion improvements across the university. She shares her 'Confessions of a digital accessibility coordinator', including defining what her H.I.T list is, and what on earth the 'Broccoli effect' is...

There's also an update on the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (PSBAR) and how the government is monitoring compliance so far, and some top tips to remember for video accessibility.

The webinar is part of AbilityNet Live.

Who will benefit from this 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 one hour and included a question and answer session. 

Webinar recording, slides and transcript

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Questions and answers from the webinar

Katey and Amy have responded to some of the questions that were posed by attendees in the Q&A panel during the webinar.

Question: Where can we find the Quick check resources you mentioned?

Answer: Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility | Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) | W3C - Amy

Q: Do you feel your local connection to the department has been important in the progress you have made versus a central uni resource?

A: Fantastic question. Yes, for me working within the Digital Learning team has been invaluable to connect with those designing and creating content for our virtual learning environment.
However, I think it is important to have connections firmly based in both. You should know and be able to adapt to what is happening centrally, but have your dedicated local approach and objectives. Each have their part to play and my learning has been to not become to reliant on either. You can make little progress in your team if you are waiting for a central solution from a central team, that may or may not exist. On the other hand if you progress only from looking at your team's needs, you can find yourself implementing accessibility solutions that do not support the central processes and policy. - Katey

Q: Do you engage with the web team? If so, do you have (or need to have) a high technical knowledge of web accessibility?

A: Yes, everyone has a part to play. In my role it certainly helps to have some technical knowledge on web accessibility and understand web terminology. This helps when talking web teams. Digital websites are applications are changing all the time so I try to keep on top of development in web accessibly by attending webinars, and joining in with accessibility community groups as well as formal training. However, it is important to remember I need to be able to communicate to content creators who may not have technical knowledge how they make reasonable changes in the way they design and create learning content with accessibility in mind in terms they will be able to relate to. Being able to translate between the web team and content creators is often the biggest challenge. - Katey 

Q: Why do you think the University of Cambridge's Accessibility Statement has been rated as a 'Poor Attempt'?

A: I am unable to give clarity on this particular statement as I have not been involved in its preparation. However, it is good to note when looking at research that there are many factors to take into account when reviewing the suitability of an accessibility statement and this is one view and snapshot of one accessibility statement. To put this into context, it is worth knowing that the University of Cambridge is built up of 31 colleges and 6 schools, with approximately 2,700 websites. Not including virtual learning environments, which is what I work on and not included in this research. All change takes time, but I am glad to say I have seen first hand the positive steps within the University to bring about this sustainable change.- Katey

Q: I am working in a University trying to promote accessibility, but I don't have a team and not sure where to start to approach the academic staff. Do you have any suggestions?

My first question would be to ask what is your vision? What are you trying to achieve? If you can define this it goes a long way to how to start. One option would be to get in touch with AbilityNet so you can discuss what you are trying to achieve. It has some wonderful resources available and I am sure can point you in the right direction to navigate these first steps.

A team is out there - you just haven’t found them or they haven’t found you yet. An option would be put a shout out to your department, IT department, work area to see if there is anyone interested in having a ‘30min time for tea chat’ about accessibility. Search on your university website for accessibility and see if anyone has already posted an accessibility statement. Good luck. - Katey

Q: What is your background Katey, before this role?

I have worn, and still do, wear many hats. Prior to this role I was in a similar role at the University of Cambridge Clinical School of Medicine for a 9 month project. I have a background in business strategy and project management. Alongside this I also have background in woodland conservation and outdoor education specialising in Forest School. - Katey

Q: I don’t really understand the Broccoli concept - can you explain it again?

The broccoli effect was an example of winning ‘Hearts’. It is a simile of the ripple effect of change; you may not see the change happening but it is happening. When I first joined the team I was talking about accessibility in all our team meetings as there was a lot to discuss. Accessibility falls into all areas of learning content and design. I was aware that there is a fine line between inspiring others and overwhelming them. So I joked, we needed a word that the team could use to politely ask me to change the subject, such as broccoli.

This simple team joke had a chain reaction and ‘Broccoli’ became the code word in the team for accessibility. The impact of this was that we built a joyful environment in which to discuss accessibility and hold tricky conversations such as changing workflows and I knew when to take a step back. The team even ended up awarding individuals for their work on accessibility with a golden broccoli. At the end of the Michaelmas term, a review of the VLE modules was made using a Miro whiteboard. The team surrounded the board with images of broccoli, visual proof accessibility was now an integral part of the design process. I wanted to share with you my learning of not being afraid of including a bit of humour, and that although you might not see the change happening have faith in the ripple effect of your accessibility work. You are making a difference. - Katey

Useful resources

EDX Web Accessibility Training course

Information about Accessibility Certification

GDS survey about accessibility regulations (please respond by 9 December 2020)

Training course: Accessibility testing in mobile apps

Mobile accessibility at W3C

Jisc Accessibility

AbilityNet Accessibility services for HE and FE (includes information about HE and FE maturity model)

Date of webinar: 
1 Dec 2020 - 13:00