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Making accessible teaching content

What is accessibility?

Accessibility describes the extent to which all people are able to use, participate in or benefit from a particular resource, service or environment, regardless of any disabilities or other needs. The following description by JISC explains what inclusivity means in a teaching and learning context:

"Being inclusive is about giving equal access and opportunities to everyone wherever possible. In education this involves reducing and overcoming the barriers that might occur in:

  • Digital content
  • Teaching and learning activities
  • Assessments"

Making an accessible site isn't something you do only for people with disabilities. The advantages of actively considering what users need will be appreciated by all. This is sometimes referred to as the curb-cut effect.

It is important that accessibility is not treated as an afterthought but built into your online teaching from the start. This is not only a moral obligation but a legal duty from 23 September 2020 – see Government Accessibility Regulations.

The resources below provide information on how to ensure teaching materials can be used to their full potential by all our students and colleagues, regardless of a disability or other needs.

Accessibility of teaching and learning materials is playing a vital role in our values and vision for ‘Inclusive Manchester’.

Guides for creating accessible content

These guides have been created to take you step by step through what you need to do to ensure your teaching and learning materials are accessible for all.  They contain practical information, helpful hints and specific links to support and know-how.

The Online teaching tools accessibility comparison gives links to the accessibility settings of key online teaching tools, as well as advising on whether the tools are suitable for synchronous and/or asynchronous delivery:

Live transcription in Zoom

Zoom has now introduced a 'live transcripts' function which allows the host, another meeting attendee assigned by the host, or an integrated third-party closed captioning service to add closed captioning in a meeting.  To turn this on:

  • you must log on to the Zoom web portal Sign In - Zoom
  • once signed in, select 'settings'
  • ensure you're in the 'meetings' tab
  • select 'in meetings (advanced)'
  • select: Closed captioning
  • allow host to type closed captions or assign a participant/third party device to add closed captions
  • enable live transcription service to show transcript on the side panel in-meeting

When you open the Zoom app you'll now see an option for 'live transcript' - click on this and select 'enable auto transcription'. 

For more information see the Zoom article, Closed captioning and live transcription.   

(Note that MSTeams has inbuilt closed captions, so no individual adjustments are usually needed). 

As a reminder, where videos are published on our websites via YouTube and/or the University video portal these should be subtitled, and any automatically generated subtitles should be checked and edited before going live as these, although useful as a starting point, are not perfect and can substitute unhelpful words.  You can find further information around this in a February 2021 StaffNet article and on the relevant guidance page.  

Blackboard Ally

Find out how Blackboard Ally can help with creating and testing accessible content.

Test your content

You can use Blackboard Ally to highlight any issues, but we would also recommend testing using accessibility tools.