Statement of Intent
The University of East London’s Web and Digital Media Team has actively engaged in developing the accessibility of its website since May 2002, when it first established progressive standards of design, usability and accessibility within the higher education sector by the publication of a new corporate site that substantially met the needs of disabled users among its wider audiences.
UEL is committed to achieving high levels of accessibility through its web pages as part of its wider support for equality of opportunity and treatment throughout its learning community. With this new version of the corporate site the Web and Digital Media Team intends to continue being at the forefront of inclusive design.
The following gives an account of the accessibility features of the present site that should prove useful:
- Wherever possible information, or other content, is given as accessible text within the page and primary navigation of the site is possible using text links.
- The text will resize. This may be done by the following methods in the commonly used browsers listed:
- For all Windows browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer try:
- Hold down the CTRL key and press + to increase the text size
- Hold down the CTRL key and press - to decrease the text size
- For all Mac browsers:
- Increase the text size by holding down the Command key and pressing +
- Decrease the text size by holding down the Command key and pressing –
- A text size change may also be achieved by substituting a separate style-sheet designed for an individual user using the Tools option in Internet Explorer. (Some generically useful alternatives will be made available to accompany the site as part of a future accessible output channel. In the meantime requests to the Web and Design Team for help with this may be made via the Disability and Dyslexia Service.) Several current browsers also support a zoom function to enlarge the page.
- The language used on much of our site seeks to be straightforward and easy to understand, though of an appropriate level for a university’s web pages.
- Suitable colour contrasts are employed wherever possible.
- There is a consistent approach to page layout and site navigation throughout the top level pages of the university’s site and as far as is currently possible within each localised sub-site.
- The use of images is intended to enrich the visual experience, but is rarely, if ever, a means of delivering important information. Typically the accompanying text will provide the relevant content and will not need the image to convey its meaning.
- Images will have brief alternative descriptions that are available to assistive technologies.
- Images that act as links have alternative descriptions that explain their functionality (what they do) rather than what they look like.
- The use of multimedia is also to add value to the experience rather than provide a single route to important information and the associated navigation, though it may appear to be part of it, is typically part of the accessible page.
- Videos substantially use presenters or interconnected interviews, or both, to provide a meaningful narrative, so they also have value if listened to but not seen. Any links to them contain brief descriptions of them and when accessed through the Video Gallery a longer summary of their content (though not a full transcript) accompanies them as accessible text.
- Links should have meaningful link phrases. Where their purpose may not be self-evident a title will be used as well that is available to assistive technologies.
- It should be possible to navigate without the use of a mouse, by using the Tab and Enter (Return) keys to identify and activate links.
For Screen-reader users
The new University of East London website should interact well with screenreaders.
When viewed without presentational styling the content and functional elements of each page appear in a logical linear order with extended use of titles and descriptions, that are not normally visible, to clarify their purpose. This view will be possible to achieve in some web browsers or with the help of assistive technologies. It is UEL’s intention to output a plain version of the site that operates like this as an alternative view, once its Enterprise Content Management System is in place. Meanwhile screenreaders should recognise the page in this context. The meaningful content comes first, for example:
In the new part of our site, links at the top each page allow direct access to its essential features and may be operated by access keys, as follows:
- Accesskey "C" Skip to content
- Accesskey "N" Skip to navigation menus
- Accesskey "S" Skip to search
- Accesskey "Y" Accessibility information (linking you to this content)
Access keys are activated by doing one of the following (depending on what computer or browser you are using, then pressing the named key:
- With a PC hold down Alt
- On a Mac hold down Ctrl
- If using Firefox hold down Alt and Shift
On older parts of the site: Typically a screenreader will encounter the page's most significant content first. The search facility and navigation menus will be found next and then links to this page for screenreader users and other general information will follow. The page's decorative images will be listed last and although these may sometimes offer some short-cut links, they are not essential to the use or understanding of the page and can safely be ignored. Images within the page content are obviously relevant to it, but are unlikely to be essential either. If they are then further information should be offered. Descriptions, comments and titles are also provided within the pages to assist with their interpretation.