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Digital accessibility enhancement roadmap and related sites and services

Birkbeck, University of London runs a wide variety of websites. It is important to us that our websites and services are as widely accessible as possible.

This roadmap describes our approach to this work for and as well as other critical systems, and is complementary to our Accessibility Statement.

Completed activities

Spring 2017

  • We enabled the ReciteMe accessibility toolbar on our public-facing website.
  • We developed and implemented a responsive template on our public-facing website.

Spring 2019

  • We created a Digital Accessibility Working Group to drive policy and best practice.

Spring 2020

  • We changed our main font on the public-facing website to improve accessibility.

Summer 2020

  • We created standards and guidelines for online self-service applications, web pages and teaching materials. These included:
    • Word documents
    • PDFs
    • Power Points
    • Video and audio content.
  • We launched a Teaching Preparation Project, to help academic staff to prepare accessible online materials.
  • We moved our enquiry management system (ASK) and the majority of My Birkbeck and public-facing forms into an accessible theme.

Autumn 2020

September 2021 

We made several improvements to videos and podcasts:

  • Videos that were not accessible and no longer relevant to our channel were removed from our YouTube channel and our website.
  • Developed guidance for staff to ensure all new videos (as of September 2020) have subtitles and captions for non-speech sounds (and full transcripts where relevant) available for hearing impaired users.
  • We ensure all live-streamed videos that are retained on YouTube and added to for more than two weeks are fully accessible.
  • Our videos and podcasts must have a 20 decibel difference in the volume between backing tracks and interviews/voice-overs so that important content is clearly audible.
  • More in-depth, detailed guidance was sent out internally to all relevant staff that can be found on our SharePoint site for all staff to access and refer to at any time.
  • Developed guidance for staff to ensure all new videos (as of September 2020) have audio description available to sight-impaired users where the visual representation is crucial to the meaning of the video and isn't explained or narrated.
  • We carry out monthly audits on YouTube videos uploaded to our channel to ensure accessibility standards are maintained. If videos do not comply with accessibility standards, they are removed or made unlisted until standards are fulfilled. As of June 2023, this is ongoing.

We made several improvements to PDFs:

  • PDFs that were not accessible and no longer relevant were removed from our website.
  • PDFs that were not accessible and could be switched to HTML pages were republished on the website.
  • We have audited many of our most prominent PDFs (using Google Analytics to start the auditing process with the most read) and used Adobe Acrobat Pro to ensure accessibility standards are met. As of June 2023, this process is still ongoing.
  • We ensure that any new PDFs requested meet the appropriate criteria, and initially look to create that content as HTML pages. If there is a legitimate requirement for a PDF, we use Adobe Acrobat Pro to ensure accessibility standards are met.

Spring/Summer 2022 

  • Added frame titles to all embedded videos on our corporate and prospectus web pages. Moving forward, we will ensure to conduct an audit every six months to ensure there are no frame titles missing.
  • Fixed our bulleted lists to ensure ordered, unordered and description lists contain semantically correct parent and child elements.
    • However, we are yet to fix these on our Staff Profiles and Events pages, as staff are able to add text to these pages manually. We are continuing to improve communication and guidance to staff to remove the problems from these pages. The current Staff Profiles and Events pages do not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.31.
  • Fixed issues where alt text was appearing as an empty string or “ “ on decorative images.
  • Fixed issues with invalid attributes of '<time>' tags on news articles.
  • Fixed issues with lack of explicit labels on the 'Our staff' search form.
  • Fixed issues where, in specific circumstances, users are unable to move away from a focused element using the keyboard where that focus was achieved with the keyboard (also known as 'keyboard traps').
  • Fixed an issue where elements not visible on the screen could achieve focus using the keyboard.
  • Fixed issues where ARIA attributes had invalid values.

Ongoing activities

  • Continue to migrate web pages from an unresponsive template to responsive template.
  • Continue to brief and train staff and students with an overview of digital accessibility regulations.
  • Update remaining forms to accessible template (with a focus on most used).
  • Monthly accessibility reviews and maintenance of public-facing website.
  • Training and guidance for SharePoint site owners and comprehensive accessibility check of SharePoint sites before they are published.
  • Take down current online prospectus and replace with new online prospectus, which will rectify issues highlighted in our accessibility statement and roadmap. This piece of work is set to be completed by summer 2023.
  • Continue to fix issues highlighted in June’s 2022 accessibility audit of corporate website.
  • Continue to fix issues highlighted in June’s 2022 audit overview of key systems we use, such as Moodle and My Birkbeck.
  • Following programmatic audit of non-corporate websites that are owned by Birkbeck, highlight issues of compliance to web owners so they can rectify them or take the web presences offline.
  • Liaise with colleagues to ensure accessibility statements are prepared for other Birkbeck-owned websites and key systems that we use.

Future activities

  • Investigate adding ReciteMe accessibility toolbar to My Birkbeck.
  • Plan and prioritise activities for high-traffic internal, staff-facing systems.
  • Document and highlight accessibility issues found in our Staff Profiles and Events pages. To ensure staff receive better guidance on how to make them accessible.