New study shows most university websites aren’t accessible

New research shows that the majority of UK university websites don’t meet global accessibility standards and will need development to meet new UK public sector accessibility laws.

According to the 2019 Q2/UK & IE Universities & Higher Ed report, 80% of the university websites it tested reported back a score of less than five out of ten for website accessibility.

The study also showed that over 40 percent of pdf’s on the university websites tested failed accessibility tests. This means the websites and their content don’t follow the principles of the WCAG 2.1 AA global web accessibility guidelines.

However, to comply with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 every new website (published on or after the regulations came into force in September 2018) must meet WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards by 23 September 2019.

Existing websites must meet WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards by 23 September 2020.

To make a website or mobile app accessible universities must ensure as many people as possible can use it to do what they need to do.

As well as being useable for people with a range of disabilities, websites need to translating content for people that don’t speak English as their first language.

Many universities across the country are attracting more and more students from around the world.

This increase in popularity of international students is a key market for universities and higher education organisations. But to cater for this wide range of visitors, university websites need to highly accessible.

Cranfield University has always understood the need to make its communications accessible. When the university re-launched its website, they began looking for a high-quality web accessibility solution that complies with the latest web accessibility standards.

Students from over 100 countries across the world come to study at the university, so the software needed to accessible and usable by a wide range of people.

Recite Me’s web accessibility and language toolbar was exactly what Cranfield University was looking for, to cater for international students and to be easily used by visitors with disabilities like dyslexia, visual impairment and learning difficulties.

Recite Me provides innovative cloud-based web accessibility software works by providing a simple drop-down toolbar this allows visitors to customise a website to the way they need it to work for them.

This award-winning software includes text to speech functionality, dyslexia software, an interactive dictionary, a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features.

Amy Simpson, Head of Digital Communications, Cranfield University said:

“We wanted to make sure the content on our website was accessible to as many people as possible.

“Recite Me provides us with a translation service as well as an accessibility solution, which is very important for us because it means that our international audiences can easily access our web content.

“There are so many different features on the Recite Me toolbar that it covers everything from an accessibility and language perspective.”

Recite Me Founder and CEO Ross Linnett said:

“This new evidence shows that the education sector needs to be more focused on creating accessible websites to benefit from the increasingly diverse global population.

“Creating an accessible website that follows the principles WCAG global web accessibility guidelines is a great starting point to opening up your website to a bigger audience.

“But for this wider, diverse audience to benefit from your website and its content, it needs to be usable daily not only on one computer but by everyone, everywhere.”

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