What we’re doing to improve accessibility
As part of our Digital Governance Framework, The Open University has an approved Digital Accessibility standard which is available to all staff members. The standard sets WCAG 2.1 AA as a benchmark and aligns with our legal obligation under the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. As part of the Digital Governance Framework, staff are provided with resources and guidance to ensure they are able to achieve this standard and are following best practice.
As we build new websites and digital services, we strive to ensure that they are accessible and comply with the current legislation. We also review and audit older sites to identify what changes we need to make to improve accessibility.
The Open University website development process has stages that test the usability and accessibility of new and updated platforms, activities and services against WCAG 2.1. As well as working with external consultants, an internal Accessibility and Usability Evaluation team helps to offer guidance in this area and to ensure that accessibility and usability are embedded in the design and development process for developers and content creators.
In addition, The Open University is undertaking a long-term project to roll out the use of the Siteimprove digital tool to monitor website quality, accessibility, and compliance across the public-facing parts of the web estate. Staff are offered training for how to use the automated outputs of the tool to identify defects and areas of development and integrate this into web estate management effectively.
These activities ensure that we are meeting and responding to the changing digital requirements of our students and users as well as developing and delivering systems and websites which are as accessible and usable as possible.
The Open University is committed to accessibility and demonstrates this in a number of additional ways:
The Securing Greater Accessibility team (SeGA) was set up in 2010 as a university-wide initiative to promote accessibility and inclusive practice and support students and staff. SeGA offers training and guidance in accessibility in teaching and learning and oversees forums and activities for a wider community of practice and research.
The Accessibility and Usability team runs a network of over 80 accessibility champions, who work as points of contact on accessibility queries within their respective departments.
Staff at the Open University are offered on-demand accessibility training in a variety of topics to support them to carry out their roles. This will be complemented in the future by the introduction of bespoke, mandatory training in accessibility for all staff to complete in order to further embed accessibility good practice.
The Open University Library provides wide-ranging support to students with disabilities and specific requirements. As well as working with students directly to offer guidance in accessible resources, the Open University Library staff work with publishers to help improve the accessibility of their products.
The Open University aims to make studying as accessible as possible and a range of adjustments and support are available. A well-established disability support team provides guidance for students and arranges for students to have support when accessing digital content online or alternatively, access to a variety of formats. A wealth of resources for information and guidance in enabling students to study as effectively as possible in the digital environment are available via the help centre.