Digital accessibility

We are actively working to make our web services accessible to all users.

As guiding principles, we:

  • seek to identify and follow best practice for web accessibility
  • aim to support current assistive technologies
  • aim to promote an awareness of web accessibility issues
  • set standards and targets for web resources produced and hosted by us.

Wherever possible, content and services are delivered using a standard set of elements and page templates which have been tested to support AA compliance as outlined in W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Manual inspections are also made to website content before it is published to support AA compliance.

We are currently reviewing W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 and will be adapting content where appropriate to meet the new AA success criteria.

We actively seek opportunities to engage users with specific access requirements in the development of the University website.

We also periodically audit our web pages using third-party services to ensure they remain accessible and appropriate.

Tell us about an accessibility issue

If you encounter an issue with accessing one of our web resources, please contact us with details of the page you were viewing and the issue you experienced. Tell us about an accessibility issue.

If for any reason you are not satisfied with the response to your accessibility feedback, please refer to the enforcement procedure outlined in the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. We aim to provide an accessible alternative within a reasonable time where content doesn't meet the standards and reasonable adjustment has not been made.

Accessibility limitations

Some digital services delivered by the University currently use ageing or third-party provided technologies. There may be cases where these systems cannot deliver the same level of accessibility compliance as the core website offers and the University is not able to influence the code on those platforms. Third-party systems include:

  • Blackboard online learning environment
  • job vacancies platform
  • Summon library search
  • Worktribe project information and management system (PIMS) and research repository
  • myUWE student portal
  • welcome.uwe applicant portal
  • iTrent student vacancies platform
  • InfoHub student careers platform
  • Wordpress blog platform
  • Foleon digital publications
  • Gecko Engage online forms
  • Qualtrics survey forms
  • mycpd.uwe applicant portal
  • store.uwe online store.

Some pages on the website use embedded content from other platforms (YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter) and while we have tried to implement this in the most accessible way achievable, there may be limitations to the experience supported by those providers.

Online and digital publications

Some online and digital publications delivered by the University currently use third-party provided technologies such as Foleon. There may be cases where these systems cannot deliver the same level of accessibility compliance as the core website as the University is not able to influence the code on those platforms.

Due to the large number of documents produced across the University, some PDFs available from the website may not be as accessible as they could be. We are working towards a consistent approach to ensuring the accessibility of these across all areas of the University.

Digital learning systems and accessibility

This statement and accompanying accessibility plan is for our digital learning environment and includes such systems as Blackboard, Event Capture (Panopto) and PebblePad.

Our digital learning environment

  • Our content will be 'perceivable' to your senses.
  • Our digital learning environment pages and resources will be 'operable', which means you can operate the interface.
  • We will create pages and resources that are 'understandable' so you are able to understand the information we are providing.
  • Where possible, pages and resources will be 'robust', meaning that they can be interpreted by a wide variety of assistive technologies.

What we will do

  • We will commit to raising awareness amongst our staff and students around the importance of creating accessible digital content.
  • We will ensure that pages and documents are readable by assistive technologies.
  • We will ensure pages and documents are accessible on a range of devices.
  • We will provide you with opportunities to highlight difficulties in accessing content to academics and support services.
  • We have adopted Blackboard 'Ally' which allows you to download resources in a wide range of accessible formats.
  • We will direct you to support services should you need, for additional support.

Our plan to address content that is not yet accessible

The digital learning environment

The digital learning environment is made up of two elements: the systems themselves and the content that we upload into them. The systems themselves are generally accessible and are regularly reviewed by the vendors and us.

Content that is uploaded or created by staff however is entirely within University control and this plan sets out how we will deal with current, historical, and future learning resources.

Blackboard content

We have been building content (resources) in Blackboard for years. We know that a lot of this content is not fully accessible. We plan to deal with this content in the following way.

Current content academic year 2019-2020

Content that students interact with on a regular basis such as module or programme handbooks and anything related to assessment, we aim to make accessible commencing November 2019.

We will then deal with the remaining content in a logical way, making accessible content that is needed soonest or is least accessible a priority.

Historical content

Much of our online content is historical. We intend to continue to make this content available, but will not be making it all accessible unless this is requested. This is because we need to focus our resources on ensuring that content that is in current and high usage is prioritised. We will, however, ensure that where a particular request to make historical material accessible is made, that this is done at the earliest opportunity.

Future content

We aim to make all future content on Blackboard accessible. The University is able to monitor this process and intervene where content is deemed less than fully accessible.

Other systems

Blackboard Ally is available in Blackboard which staff are expected to use to check accessibility of resources before uploading to any other systems.

Event Capture (Panopto)

Most of the resource in Event Capture is video based. This presents its own problems in that captioning of video is either inaccurate if done by machine or prohibitively expensive if done by a human. Our aim is to have Event Capture content captioned from September 2020 onwards, but if accurate captioning is only possible when it is done by a person rather than a machine, this would be a disproportionate burden for the University. We will review this situation regularly.


Most resources in Pebblepad are uploaded and shared by students. While there is no legal requirement for students to ensure their uploads are accessible, it is nevertheless a good opportunity for them to learn to write accessibly. This is likely to be a useful skill that they can take with them into future educational and workplace activities. We will make learning resources available for students to help them with this. The accessibility checker in Microsoft Office is an excellent resource and a good place to start.

Where teaching staff make resources available in Pebblepad, these resources are accessible.

Mobile applications (apps)

We aim to have all University apps accessible by September 2020.

Other learning systems

The University has other learning systems such as polling or voting systems. Generally, these do not have much content as this is largely contained within Blackboard. Where these systems do have content, we aim to make that content accessible.

Reviewing our plans and statement

We plan to review our accessibility statement and plan twice in the first year in March and September 2020 and then annually each September.

How students can highlight difficulties in accessing content

First step is to approach your module leader. You can do this in person or by sending them an email.

Alternatively, you can send a more general help request by using the accessibility link in any course site in Blackboard, which will be actioned by colleagues in the library. You can also raise the issue with a member of staff by emailing, who will support you in getting further assistance.

If you are not happy with our response

We aim to help as soon as we can. Once you have reported a problem with Blackboard or any of our learning systems, or asked for an alternative format, but you are not happy with our response, you can let us know by raising a formal complaint via UWE Student Complaints procedure and we will respond to you.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).