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Digital accessibility student guide

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

About web accessibility

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR) requires bodies governed by public law which includes HE organisations to make a website or mobile application accessible by using the POUR principles (perceivable, operable, understandable and robust) set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

The guidelines explain how to make websites and apps, including the digital content on them, accessible to everyone, particularly users with impairments in:

  • Cognition and learning and need well-structured content that is easy to navigate and understand,
  • Hearing and communication and may use captions, audio descriptions and transcripts,
  • Mobility and touch and may find it difficult to use a mouse or keyboard,
  • Vision and may rely on distinguishable use of colour or use a screen reader.

The POUR principles

1. Perceivable

Perceivability means the user can identify content and interface elements by means of the senses. For many users, this means perceiving a system primarily visually, while for others, perceivability may be a matter of sound or touch. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

1.1 Text Alternatives e.g. alternative ALT text on images.

1.2 Time-based Media e.g. captions on videos.

1.3 Adaptable e.g. heading structure, form elements have text labels, tables are used for tabular data.

1.4 Distinguishable e.g. colour contrast, colour is not the only means of conveying information.

2. Operable

Operability means that a user can successfully use controls, buttons, navigation, and other necessary interactive elements. For many users, this means identifying an interface control visually and then clicking, tapping, or swiping. For other users, using a computer keyboard or voice commands may be the only means by which they can operate and control the interface. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

2.1 Keyboard accessible e.g. can tab through all functionality.

2.2 Enough time e.g. warning if about to be logged out.

2.3 Seizures and physical reactions e.g. 3 flashes per second or below.

2.4 Navigable e.g. links have meaningful text, focus indicator is visible as you tab through content.

2.5 Input Modalities e.g. gestures and motion control can be disabled and equivalent functionality is provided.

3. Understandable

Understandable content is consistent in its presentation and format, predictable in its design and usage patterns, concise, and appropriate to the audience in its voice and tone. Users should be able to develop a familiarity with your content and understand how to interact with it. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

3.1 Readable e.g. unusual words are defined in a glossary.

3.2 Predictable e.g. no unexpected pop-ups.

3.3 Input Assistance e.g. suggestions are provided for fixing an input error in a form.

4. Robust

Robust IT complies with standards and is designed to function on all appropriate technologies. Users should be able to choose the technology they use to interact with websites, online documents, multimedia and other information formats. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines:

4.1 Compatible e.g. code functions on various platforms and devices, including assistive technologies.  

WebAIM's WCAG 2 Checklist contains recommendations to meet guidelines and success criteria.

Testing for accessibility

Accessibility testing is a useful step before publishing web content. It is a process where you go systematically test a sample of your content to check for any accessibility issues, which can inform any fixes you need to do. This will help ensure all content can be accessed by all users. You can try the following: 

  • Navigating the web page using just your keyboard 
  • Checking the contrast of your blog colours using a colour contrast checker 
  • Using a screen reader to browse the content, such as Narrator or VoiceOver.

You can use an accessibility checker for in-depth testing of your web page, such as:

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