Universities seek WCAG-compliant accessible e-learning

11th March 2020

UK universities call on e-learning providers to make their courses accessible to the WCAG standard by the end of the year. Senior representatives from 12 UK universities recently attended the ‘Marshall E-Learning User Forum’ in London to discuss the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for web accessibility and approaches to digital accessibility in e-learning.

The group noted how e-learning platforms and authoring tools are struggling to reconcile the balance between interactive media-rich modules and accessibility. Calling on the industry to ensure e-learning is accessible to all staff and students, it challenged providers to start producing WCAG-compliant modules the standard by the end of 2020.

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) defines the minimum requirements for web page design and structure to ensure they are accessible for all users, including people with sight loss, hearing issues or reduced mobility. The guidelines encourage all content owners to ensure that their digital properties are perceivable, operable and understandable for everyone.

Compliance is mandatory for public sector websites, but the legislation is unclear whether e-learning modules are also covered. However, while WCAG-compliance may not be mandatory for e-learning, universities are eager to switch to e-learning solutions that are accessible to all of their learners.

Speaking at the event, Sukhi Bains (Head of Diversity at St Andrews University), said, “Irrespective of any legal obligations, accessible e-learning material is essential for all university staff and students and learning providers should comply with the standards. There doesn’t seem a sense of great urgency among some e-learning suppliers to address WCAG compliance, however, those that don’t catch up could miss out.”

User group feedback

We asked some user group attendees about the event and Mariyana Bushara of Sussex University told us: “I found the Marshall user group a great opportunity to get to know more about what’s new and on offer. It is also a great networking opportunity as you get to meet a wide range of individuals from different universities, share best practice and get ideas on how to overcome challenges.”

Sadia Ahmed of Surrey University said: “I’m glad I attended, thank you for inviting us and arranging everything. The user group was very helpful in updating us on the new modules Marshall had on offer. Also, the session at the end where each user introduced themselves was really good, it was great to hear about the issues other users were facing and the suggestions offered by others to overcome them. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the different modules on offer at St Andrew’s by Sukhi, it gave me lots to think about and feedback to the team. Thank you again for hosting the event.”

And Felicity Candy of Regent’s University London thought: “The user group was a great way to meet other clients and find out more about how they were working with Marshalls. It was also a useful way to learn updates.”

Founder and CEO David Marshall commented: “It was great to be able to bring these institutions together to share their views and requirements regarding accessibility. Our development is led by our users’ needs so if WCAG compliance is essential for them, it is essential for us.”

About us

Marshall E-Learning is the leading provider of diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias online training. London-based but with a global reach, Marshalls provides customisable and fully bespoke e-learning for corporates, higher education, NHS, local government, further education and the public sector.

To find out more about our current work or to see how we can help your organisation please get in contact.

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