Universities and colleges must create inclusive learning environments and think about their websites as the first point of access for disabled people Universities and colleges must create inclusive learning environments and think about their websites as the first point of access for disabled people

Universities and colleges must create inclusive learning environments and think about their websites as the first point of access for disabled people

Posted on: by Alison Wilson

According to data available from the Higher Education Funding Council for England there were more than 44,000 UK-students with a known disability studying full-time first degree courses in 2015-16.

This represents a surge of 56 per cent since 2010-11.

It’s clear there are many disabled learners in the UK who need accessible information and services to succeed in their studies.

Information should be accessible no matter what device you are using to learn on, what disability you have or even what language you speak.

This means universities and colleges must create inclusive learning environments and think about their websites as the first point of access for disabled people – if it’s accessible!

As we are experts in web accessibility solutions we have produced this list of top tips on how to make your website more inclusive for disabled learners.

Use headings correctly

Heading tags let people using screen readers skip straight to the sections to the sections they want to see.

Headings (e.g. <h1>; <h2>) form the outline of the web page and without them navigation can be difficult for disabled learners.

By using headlines correctly on your website you can ensure that disabled learners using screen-reading technology can easily navigate your website.

If you add Recite Me to your website it will allow disabled learners to have headings and other text read aloud to them at the click of a button.

Use high contrast between the text and background

We all find low contrast text hard to read. This is especially true for people with low vision. But text must have a reasonably high contrast with background colours.

You can use a contrast checking tool to make sure you have sufficient contrast. Or you can turn to Recite Me, which offers users the option to customise the contrast between the text and the background colour. 

As well as helping disabled learners with low vision, with the ability to customise the background colour of your website, people with dyslexia will be able to access your content up to 25 per cent faster than without this feature.

Use Accessible publications

Any publications on your website for disabled learners such as forms and brochures need to be fully accessible.

If you want information about how to create accessible PDFs you can read the GOV.UK guidance on how to create an accessible PDF and how to check accessibility before publication.

If you use Recite Me on your website your web content (including alt text labels) is read out to users in a natural voice, and our DocReader means that PDF documents are also accessible.

Write in plain English

The harder your content is to read, the less accessible it is. Keep it simple! The average reading age of the UK population is nine years, which means people have reached the reading ability normally expected of a nine year old.

And around 15% of the UK population have a learning difficulty like dyslexia.

It’s vital to use plain English to make sure your web content can be read by as many people as possible.

Whilst our Recite Me software works exclusively online, we also have a product called Include Me, which disabled learners can use to access other digital content like documents.

For example, it’s great at helping learners who may struggle with complex academic language. Include Me’s homophone checker finds words within your document that sound the same but can have different meanings.

It helps you choose the right word replacement by offering a list of suitable alternatives complete with a dictionary definition of each.

Offer different language options

Around eight percent of the UK population don’t speak English as their first language. Can they access your web content in their language of choice?

Recite Me’s custom toolbar can translate your web content into over 100 languages, which offers you a cost-effective alternative to translation services.

Try Recite Me for free on your website

Do you want to find out how you can make your website more accessible using Recite Me? Book your appointment now for a product demonstration and a free trial on your website.

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