London University Opens Up to a Wider Audience with Assistive Technology

The University of London has implemented assistive technology on to their website to support the raising number of distance learning students, the number of students enrolling from other countries and students with disabilities.

Many universities across the country are attracting more and more students from around the world. This increase in the popularity of international students is a key market for universities & higher education organisations. To allow everyone to access course documentation and specific University information their website needed to provide accessibility support.

The University of London contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies, and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161, 270 campus-based internal students (from across the federation), making it the largest university by the number of students in the United Kingdom.

To support website usability for all on the University of London website, Recite Me provides an accessibility assistive toolbar. By providing a simple drop-down toolbar this allows visitors to customise their website in a way that works for them.

In the past 12 months (Aug 2021- July 2022), the University of London has supported over 45,000 people to read and understand over 128,000 pages of content.

This cloud-based accessibility support software gives any user the ability to customise the way they view content. This can be done by changing the styling of the website. For example, changing the site background colour, font type, size colour, and spacing. To support reading visitors can use the text-to-speech functionality or reading aids such as a ruler, reading mask, dictionary, and text-only mode. To support people who may not be able to read in English, the translation tool will translate on-demand into over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices and many other features.

Mark Harrison, Head of Inclusion at the University of London said, “The University of London is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible experience, regardless of how our audiences and stakeholders wish to engage with us – this is just as important in an online capacity. Recite Me is an excellent way for us to be able to provide additional online tools and services for those visiting our website and increase the level of accessibility quickly and easily.

In addition, we have adopted the accessibility toolbar on its intranet and jobs website to ensure that more people can access and modify the content in a way that makes it more useful and usable. These initiatives are examples of the measures we are taking to ensure that we are promoting inclusive academic practices.”

The University of London is part of a hand full of UK Universities that are focused on creating an accessible and usable website to benefit from the increase in a diverse audience.

In September this year, all public sector websites must have complied with the principles of the WCAG 2.1 AA global web accessibility guidelines in order to be considered accessible. According to the 2019 Q2/UK & IE Universities & Higher Ed report, 80% of tested university websites reported back a score of less than five out of ten for website accessibility.

Recite me has created a guide that gives you a summary of the regulations, plus information about what you need to do to comply and how Recite Me can help you. Public sector website accessibility guide.

Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett said: “It is great to see that the University of London has made a positive change online to support all their students with online accessibility and translation support. Creating an accessible website benefits organisation from the increasingly diverse global population.”

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