Accessibility

Read our guidelines on making and keeping our website accessible for all visitors. Good design is inclusive design.

What is accessibility?

The term “accessibility” refers to making sure our website can be used by everyone – regardless of any impairment or disability. We must strive to make our website perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

It is the responsibility of everyone who creates content for the Sussex website (including documents) to make sure that it is accessible.

Read an introduction to web accessibility (W3.org).

Impaiments and disabilities we must consider include:

  • visual – where someone might be blind or partially-sighted
  • auditory – where a user might be deaf or hard of hearing
  • motor – where muscle movement (for instance, in the hands) is limited
  • cognitive – where the functions of the brain are impaired.

Learn about the diverse abilities of different web users (W3.org).

Web accessibility is part of UK legislation

As a public sector body, we are legally bound to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA standard across the website.

Read the UK government’s web accessibility legal requirements for public sector bodies.

We have a detailed web accessibility statement for users that outlines our responsibilities.

Barriers to web accessibility – a former student’s perspective

  • Video transcript

    Hello, my name is Daniel Hajas, and I came to Sussex in 2013, that was seven years ago, to do my undergraduate studies in physics.

    Then I carried on with my masters and I’m currently doing a PhD in Informatics to do with science communication and haptics.

    Some of the more frequently occurring things that are problems I face is usually when you have to fill out a form and submit things so it could be an assessment that you need to electronically upload or it could be a publication for some editor or anything like that.

    And often as simple as just attaching a document and maybe a part of it is accessible.

    You have this button to say, you know, attach your file and then you do.

    And then maybe it did, maybe didn’t, because you don’t get like a feedback and accessible way.

    Maybe it’s just a small visible icon somewhere, but it doesn’t read out to me.

    Other things, usually if people try to be clever and then they say, like, here’s all this information that you need to know in a table and they just put a screenshot or some sort of image of a table, which is not helpful at all. That’s happening quite often, of course, um, people using logos or images as the links.

    So you’re meant to click this link, which looks like a green symbol, but then they, of course, forgot to having an alt-text or a link and description.

    So often I don’t even know which. I know that there are ten links, all of them unnamed, which I should I, uh, click to open a new some sort of form. So those are quite frequently occurring.

    One of the other things, I also often find that people, uh, inappropriately use accessible items.

    So for example, there are different headings. I was like one, three, six and they visually come with different font sizes and colours.

    And it’s an easy way to make, you know, something really stand out like a big quote in the middle of the page.

    Just make it to having level of one. But then from a screen reader point of view, you kind of have this mental map of a website I like really I had level one should be almost a title on the top of the page.

    And then maybe you have two big sections which are level two, and then each section would have like a couple of subsections of heading level four.

    And it kind of all from the screen reader point of view makes sense.

    The mental representation makes sense. But then if you just put like a big heading level one quote in the middle of everything, then.

    Your mind goes like, OK, what’s what’s happening here, you can almost disorientate yourself, and it’s very simple things that people can just pay a little bit attention to, to make it coherent and and really just follow guidelines.

    The assistive technology that I use is really essential for my studies, and future career.

    And some of the ways it helps me is that even just small admin task, for example, organising meetings, putting them on the calendar,emailing my supervisor just the usual tasks, you know, those fundamental things I can do completely independently.

    But then also when I need to look at the research literature or, you know, just slideshows, documents, websites for information to collect data for my research or even analyse.

    I mean, it makes a whole difference when something is accessible.

    If I have an easy to use assistive technology or something that’s really slow, maybe I have to rely on some people.

    So it’s both a factor of speed, effectiveness, you know, just my own happiness if I could achieve what I wanted, do I have to postpone until somebody comes.

    And of course, with everything there is accessible and inaccessible websites and mobile apps or different platforms.

    And it does really make a big difference, because if I need to, for example, just submit a paper, it’s already stressful to work on this assignment, on the actual publication.

    And then you got to this stage like. Right, I’m just going to send this off, you know, will you be faced with a nice and intuitive interface, which is 100 percent accessible?

    And I just do this final, you know, filling out a form, or is it going to be like a new hassle?

    Like you can’t even register to get your author’s account and you can upload all the documents, do the correspondence with the editors or the funding agencies, and it really can be like a big stress factor.

    And then sometimes things are very short deadline like an editor might come back to you, like write we can publish this, but you need to fix a few things in like two days.

    And what if neither of your colleagues are available to help then?

    And if the website or the app is inaccessible, then you’re in a bit of trouble, which is an added stress.

    Video ends

How-to guides

Whether you’re creating things yourself, or getting an expert to do it, all web pages, files and documents must be produced to meet the WCAG accessibility standards.

Web pages

If you’re editing or adding content to our website, check our guide to creating accessible web pages and use our web components library.

Following accessibility best practices not only makes our website more inclusive but also improves web standards in general, such as SEO, usability and cross-platform compatibility.

Microscoft documents

Many members of staff create Word documents or Excel spreadsheets with the expectation that they will be uploaded on to our website.

These must be accessible because people with impairments may need to download them. This requirement also stands for documents that will be sent by email to other staff members.

Find out how to:

PDFs

Most of the time, it is better to update a web page instead of creating a PDF.

If you do need to create a PDF, find out how to:

Video

There are a number of requirements we must meet to ensure videos can be understood by people with diverse abilities. These help to improve the experience for all users.

See our guidance on commissioning accessible videos.

Social media

See our social media guidelines, including our responsibilities around social media accessibility.

Teaching resources

If you are creating teaching documents or resources for Canvas, use the educational digital accessibility toolkit.

Questions

If you have questions about accessibility or feedback on these guides, email dcm@sussex.ac.uk.


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