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Birkbeck media accessibility policy

1. Scope

This document outlines the policy which Birkbeck is adopting to meet our obligations under the law surrounding accessibility of media content (audio and video).

The policy covers all audio and video that is published by Birkbeck for any purpose (including teaching and learning, research and marketing) - uploaded or embedded (linked from an external site) into Birkbeck’s websites, virtual learning environment (Moodle) and other online services.

The policy is designed to ensure compliance with Public sector bodies (websites and mobile applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 which essentially mandate that we meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 at level AA.

Among other things, this legislation requires the College to provide captions on pre-recorded audio (e.g. podcasts) and videos, and audio descriptions of visual content to ensure it is comprehensible for those with visual impairments (i.e. if a picture is included that is the subject of the discussion, it should be audibly described. It should not be assumed that all consumers of the content can see it).

In addition to our legal obligations, by ensuring that captions and audio descriptions are provided for all newly created pre-recorded audio and video content we are not only meeting our legal obligations but also helping all viewers/listeners:

  • They help those with hearing impairments.
  • They help all those with visual impairments who can hear a description of something they can’t see.
  • They can benefit those with visual impairments who can enlarge the captions.
  • They improve comprehension and retention of recording content for all viewers.
  • They make your media more searchable/discoverable (caption content can help find recordings and points in recordings).
  • They allow recordings to be watched/listened to in quiet or loud places.
  • They help those for whom English is not their first language.

2. Policy

2.1. All newly created audio and video recordings must be captioned (and contain audio descriptions where required).

2.2. Live streamed classes and events do not have to be captioned unless there is an identified need - i.e. there is someone attending the class or event that is deaf or has a hearing impairment. However it should be noted that certain platforms (e.g. Microsoft Teams) provide auto captioning built in.

2.3. All external audio or video content that is embedded or linked to in Birkbeck’s websites, virtual learning environment (Moodle) and other online services should be captioned and contain audio descriptions in the same way as original Birkbeck content for the same reasons. However, external content is not covered by the legislation.

2.4. This policy does not cover archived video content (i.e. video content produced up to and including academic year 2019-20). However, if content is still relevant and regularly accessed it would be good practice to do so.

2.5. Where recordings previously produced are used in current teaching and there are student(s) with a relevant disabilities studying then captions/audio descriptions must be provided.

3. Responsibility and implementation

3.1. Content creators are responsible for ensuring their content complies with the policy.

3.2. The Digital Education team provide guidance and support for staff in the use of media for teaching.

3.3. External Relations provide guidance and support for staff in the use of media for communications and marketing.

4. Version History

VersionDateAuthor / ApproverComments
0.1.0 13 July 2020 Brett Lucas Draft produced
0.1.1 4 Sept 2020 James Smith Revisions to broaden scope to all media, and to remove implementation guidance for separate publication.
0.1.11 7 Sept 2020 James Smith Correction of typo in point 2.4.
1.0.0 8 Sept 2020 Strategic Planning Committee Policy approved