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UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
University Web Accessibility Policy

"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect" Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

Background

The University of Bristol websites provide a growing number of on-line services, including the dissemination of news, information, as well as learning resources, to a wide range of users (existing and prospective students, staff, parents and carers, etc.).

It is therefore the duty of the University to ensure that these Web-based resources are accessible to all users regardless of disability.

  • The University’s Disability Statement states “The University welcomes applications from disabled students, and aims to ensure that their participation in all aspects of university life is as full and successful as that of any other student.”
  • The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) Part III states ‘from 1 October 1999, service providers have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people, such as providing extra help or making changes to the way they provide their services’ - this includes information and services provided through the web: promotional, recruitment, general student information.
  • The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) 's Code of Practice came into operation in Autumn 2000; it has been integrated into the QAA audit scheme in late 2001 and will seek to ensure that ‘students with disabilities have access to a learning experience comparable to that of their peers’.
  • The Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001 – which became law on 11th May 2001 and comes into effect on 1st September 2002 – states “The responsible body for an educational institution must take such steps as it is reasonable for it to have to take to ensure that […] (b) in relation to student services provided for, or offered to, students by it, disabled students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with students who are not disabled.”

Disabilities that may restrict people from accessing Web content include blindness, colour blindness, dyslexia and lack of fine motor control. People with disabilities may need to use assistive technologies such as screen readers, Braille displays, voice recognition software, alternative keyboard/mice, etc, to view web pages; Web content should be accessible to these technologies. This does not require special techniques or separate resources for disabled users; following simple principles of usable and accessible design is often all that is needed. These principles are universal and thus will also benefit non-disabled users.


Policy Statement

It is the policy of the University to make reasonable adjustments in order to make all web-based information, services and learning resources on the University’s Web site accessible to all users regardless of disability. The University requires that all new Web content conforms to W3C/WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Conformance Level “Double-A” with immediate effect, and that existing Web content be gradually brought into line, as they are periodically updated; it is the aim of the University that all Web pages will conform to the guidelines by July 2004.

Each Department, Centre and Service is responsible for taking reasonable steps for making its own website compliant with the guidelines. Web information providers will be familiar with the guidelines and apply them when creating Web pages. Any third party contracted to design a website hosted by the University will be required to comply with these guidelines.

We will review the policy in the future to consider updating it to an advanced version of the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines once available.


Guidelines

The University's Guidelines for Writing Usable and Accessible Web Content are based on the W3C/WAI’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Following them when creating new Web content or when updating existing pages will ensure that all University Web pages are accessible to all users.


Implementation

Accessibility issues will be incorporated into the programme of Web training courses and the University’s Guidelines for Writing Accessible Web Content will be disseminated through the Web and seminars (e.g. Lunchbytes).

To facilitate the implementation of the Web accessibility guidelines, the University will provide ready-made templates that Departments, Centres and Services will be encouraged to use. These templates will be usable in combination with the adopted Web Content Management System (CMS) and will make the maintenance and management of Web resources much easier for Web information providers.