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Digital accessibility guide

Explore how to create, design and structure your content to ensure that is is accessible to your students.

Provide accessible activities online

These tips can make online activities more accessible and inclusive.

  • Emphasise that participation and content are of interest rather than grammar/spelling during online discussions. These can form part of your guidelines for participating in discussions. 
  • Provide clear written summary feedback even when a face-to-face feedback discussion takes place. 
  • Proactively manage online group discussions; offer clear tasks and outcomes. This can help students understand when and why to make a contribution.  
  • For online learning activities, shorter, concretely achievable tasks can be most productive. 
  • Communicate deadlines well in advance and clearly describe academic tasks. 
     

Tips for accessible virtual classrooms

Accessible Webinars - making online work for everyone from JISC explores how to get the most out of virtual classrooms for all students.

Both Zoom and Teams meetings have a number of features to help you to improve the accessibility of your live online teaching, see below.

As well as using the accessibility features, provide materials that you plan on using in the Virtual Classroom to students in accessible formats in advance of the meeting. This will help all students prepare.

Accessibility features on Zoom

Accessibility features on Teams

Teaching considerations

  • Set a clear agenda for live/synchronous sessions, so that students know what to expect.
  • Avoid requiring or requesting camera use by students, unless there are clear pedagogical reasons.
  • Remind students of how to change their backgrounds in Teams and Zoom
  • Remind students of the accessibility features within Teams and Zoom that they can choose to use as participants (see above)
  • Ensure that time is given for switching between applications (ie moving from a Teams call on a computer to the Poll Everywhere app on a mobile) and when engaging in interactive activities (ie raising hands to answer a question, participating in a shared document or poll)

Technical Tips:

  • Use a headset rather than PC speakers. Where possible, encourage your students to use a headset to participate in the meeting. Headsets also help ensure the captioning of videos and transcripts are more accurate.
  • Speak clearly, slowly and directly into the mic.
  • Facilitate your session from a quiet room with no background noise.
  • When presenting visual content or content that has been annotated, describe it for visually impaired students. Guidance on creating accessible and inclusive online lectures for visually impaired audiences.

Teaching tips:

  • Introduce yourself before speaking and call on students by name when you are asking them to speak. This will help visually impaired students to identify speakers in large groups.
  • Implement the hand-raise feature. Ask students to mute their microphones until they are called on to speak.
  • Consider limiting chat to certain times during the session and remember to summarise key points from the chat for all students.
  • Chat can be overwhelming. Visually impaired students using a screen-reader can find the chat hard to manage with while listening to the presentation. Physically disabled students might find it challenging to type quickly enough to keep up with the chat.
  • Emphasise that participation and content are of interest rather than grammar/spelling during online chats.
  • Provide students with a link to the virtual classroom recording so that students can review the content in their own time.
  • If live time-based media content is stored for more than 14 days it becomes pre-recorded time-based media. “Pre-recorded media published after 23rd September 2020 must be accessible so must have captions, audio-descriptions or transcripts (as applicable)” (Lexdis, n.d.)
  • Upload Zoom recordings to MediaSpace to make the recordings available via Moodle. Alternatively you can chat to staff in the Digital Education Team about getting started with integrating your Zoom recordings to Echo360.

References

Lexdis (n.d.) ‘PSBAR Scope’ in Accessible Technology for Learning [online] Available from: https://www.lexdis.org.uk/digital-accessibility/digital-accessibility-regulations/psbar-scope/ (Accessed: 12.08.2020)

Related guidance