The proposal addresses accessibility of educational content specifically with respect to the STEMM disciplines. We use the acronym science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and medicine (STEMM), acknowledging that the issues affect a broader community than this. We also raise the issue of accessible coding, which is not as frequently addressed as other, better understood issues.
The topics covered in these guides are specific to STEMM and we set out the standard where possible with links to help in meeting it.
This proposal is the product of a small group with interests in technology, accessibility, inclusivity, and pedagogy. We welcome comment, criticism, and hope that the wider community will contribute to further development. The proposal has been developed following focus groups with blind and partially sighted current and former STEMM students hosted by the Thomas Pocklington Trust.
- George Rhodes
- Jim Tyson
- Ben Watson
- Colleagues at Thomas Pocklington Trust
This document is offered to students to
- Guide student expectations as to what accommodations and adjustments they should expect;
- Facilitate conversations around expectations;
- Enable students themselves to produce their own more accessible content.
This document is intended to set a simple standard for embedding basic accessibility priorities in STEMM content.
The document can help you understand what you should do to enable inclusive learning and gives links as to how you can do it.
There are also some general considerations that apply:
Understand who is responsible for implementing policy including
- Who assigns the resources necessary;
- Who provides the knowledge required to implement standards.
Software may be accessible to different subsets of users, screen reader users vs magnification users;
Sometimes something perceived to be an accessibility issue is an issue with fluency with assistive technology and students should be provided with opportunities to familiarize themselves with technology;
Timeliness is important.
- Provide materials in time;
- Consider assignment timings;
- Where students may need training, provide knowledge in time.
The issues and remedies identified apply across sectors and not just to universities. An institution wide approach is needed since consistency helps support accessibility.
In general, it cannot be the sole responsibility of the student to ensure that they can access materials.
Consider issues that may arise in assessment or examination situations. For example, ensure that students using large print formats have adequate space.
We assume that creators of content will already be aware of general issues in accessibility in education and that there is a commitment to the POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust) framework that underpins the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The guidance is designed for anyone creating STEMM content that contains technical data, code, or language. Links are contained within each of the baseline topics for more in-depth instruction.
Content, materials, and practices should be:
- Perceivable: all content consumers can at least perceive the material.
- Operable: all content users can navigate and interact with material.
- Understandable: all content users can understand the material.
- Robust: all content users can access and interact with the formats used for presentation of material.
We add a STEMM focus: All users can access and interact with STEMM content where necessary using assistive technologies.
Sample guidance for non-STEMM content in general can be found in a number of places, for example on UCL’s accessibility website.
The following topics are specific to STEMM, and we set out the standard where possible with links to help in meeting it.
- Mathematical or discipline specific technical content
- Data visualisations
- Scientific images
- Scientific video