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Understanding accessibility

Making websites or apps accessible means making sure they can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes people with:

  • attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder – ADHD 
  • autism 
  • sight loss or those who are blind 
  • hearing loss or those who are d/Deaf 
  • unseen disabilities and long-term health conditions 
  • mental health conditions 
  • mobility and physical impairments 
  • specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia) 

Our websites should also be usable for people who have short-term accessibility needs. This includes things like working in a noisy environment or having a broken arm. 


Why accessible content is important 

Over 20% of adults in the UK have a disability according to research data from UK Parliament. We need to make sure that our digital content is accessible to our students and staff with a disability. 

The law

We should create content that complies with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018

The definition of what is accessible is set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They released version 2.2 of their guidelines in October 2023. This update aimed to improve accessibility guidance for 3 major groups: 

  • users with cognitive or learning disabilities 
  • users with low vision 
  • users with disabilities on mobile devices 


What are the guidelines 

You need to make sure that any digital content you create complies with WCAG 2.0 AA. Where possible, you should aim to comply with WCAG 2.2 AA.

The guidelines apply to: 

  • web pages 
  • videos 
  • audio and podcasts 
  • social media 
  • PDFs 
  • digital teaching materials (for example, on courses on Moodle) 


How to make sure your content is accessible

Jump to:


Web pages 


  • Do enclude a transcript, that includes video dialogue, audio and important visual information.
  • Do enable automatically generated captions in:
  • Do ensure all controls, like volume, play, and pause, are visible and usable on the web page. 
  • Do not use strobing, flashing or 'slam transitions'. Some users experience seizures when exposed to these. 
  • Do not use text in your videos. If you absolutely must, use large and clear fonts and make sure the text stays on the screen long enough for people to read it. 


Use an accessibility checker to make sure your PDFs meets accessibility standards. You can download free versions for different operating systems: 

Audio and podcasts 

  • Provide the content in at least one other format, such as a text transcript. 
  • Avoid additional sounds, such as background music, that make speech more difficult to hear. 
  • Make sure you use good-quality audio. To record your podcast, you can book the West Hub pop-up digital media lab
  • Look at the podcast-related training available on LinkedIn Learning. 

Social media

  • Do add alt text to all posts containing an image or video. 
  • Do include descriptions with images and videos. They should be more detailed than alt text.
  • Do capitalise the first letter of each word in hashtags as screen readers are much more likely to read the hashtag as intended.
  • Don't use too many emojis. Screen readers will read the name of each emoji. 

Data visualisations 

  • Focus on the most important information. Do not overwhelm people by trying to show too much. 
  • Do not rely on colour alone to explain the data. People who cannot perceive colour will not be able to understand what you’re trying to convey. Instead, you should add a visual indicator such as a pattern or share. Or a text label. 
  • Use clear text labels. Make sure you include a chart title and label the horizontal and vertical axis, and any data points where relevant. 
  • Add alt text or a longer description explaining what the data visualisation shows.
  • Offer the data in multiple formats. People can choose the best format to help them understand the data. 
  • Read Harvard University’s advice about creating accessible, charts and graphs

Alternative formats 

Use Sensus Access to create accessible alternative formats of inaccessible digital documents 


Get help and support 

You can find more information about accessibility on the Content Community SharePoint site.