Frequently asked accessibility questions
Some questions come up often from people that are starting out to learn digital accessibility best practices, in fact, you don't necessarily have to be new to the field, as there's so much to learn and that willingness to continue learning makes digital media and websites much easier to use for everybody, especially people that rely on assistive technology to access digital content.
We've put together some of our FAQs here, it may be a useful place to start, especially if you're just starting out on this journey, if you are just starting out, welcome to the digital accessibility community.
How do I create accessible content?
Specific guidance depends on what content you are trying to make accessible but there are always things you can do to be more inclusive with your content.
We have produced a range of guidance to help and support accessible content creation including Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, images and graphics, maps, videos and more.
There are also excellent guides and videos available from Microsoft, Adobe and LinkedIn Learning.
What needs to be digitally accessible?
Websites need to be digitally accessible, as well as the content published on websites. This content includes “online estates” including Blackboard resources, blogs, online guides, website text, digital brochures, audio and video resources, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, social media content.
All these types of digital content need to be accessible for all audiences. This means public facing, student facing and staff facing content all must be accessible.
What is the most accessible format?
If possible, it is always good to provide your content as an HTML web page. Obviously this is not a solution for all content types and there are other actions you can take to improve Microsoft office and PDF accessibility as well.
What is the legislation and what does it say?
The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (2018) say that a public sector body must make sure that websites and mobile apps are accessible. International web standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA) define what is needed for accessibility.
Public sector bodies must also publish an accessibility statement on each of their websites which tells users how accessible the website is, what problems are know about and how to contact for help if they have a problem with accessibility.
How is digital accessibility assessed?
According to the WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines. These are international recommendations for improving web accessibility and contain standards which need to be met to be classified as accessible.
WCAG focus on principles of accessibility and emphasise the need to think about the different ways that people interact with content:
For example, users might:
- use a keyboard instead of a mouse
- change browser settings to make content easier to read
- use a screen reader to ‘read’ (speak) content out loud
- use a screen magnifier to enlarge part or all of a screen
- use voice commands to navigate a website
This means you need to do things like:
- provide captions for video
- make sure content is structured logically and can be navigated and read by a screen reader - this also helps if stylesheets are disabled
- not use colour as the only way to explain or distinguish something
- use text colours that show up clearly against the background colour
- make sure everything works for keyboard-only users
- let people play, pause and stop any moving content
- provide a ‘skip to content’ link
- use descriptive titles for pages and frames.
Does the legislation only apply to public websites?
No, the legislation applies to all websites. This includes internal websites which are available to staff and/or students only, as well as public websites.
What about websites supplied by an external supplier?
These are still subject to the legislation. We must work with the supplier to make sure they are improving accessibility of their website. We need to improve accessibility of the aspects we have control over eg content.