3 students from the Accessibility Allies team sitting in the café at Highfield Campus, gathered around a laptop in discussion.

Making education more accessible

Published: 22 August 2023

Five students collaborated to form Accessibility Allies, a project working with the Digital Learning team to improve a range of course modules. They prioritised these based on data from the University's accessibility reporting service.

The project resulted in a 36% increase in engagement with course content, across 24 modules, in just 12 weeks.

The Accessibility Allies project

The aim of the project was to increase awareness of accessibility needs and spark engagement in this area, by creating equitable and inclusive learning environments for students.

With this in mind, the team worked to introduce Anthology Ally, which guides lecturers on how to improve the accessibility of course content, to the University's virtual learning environment.

We often overlook the needs of others and only focus on our own lives. For example, if you are not colour-blind, it is hard to imagine what it's like when viewing images or figures with low colour contrast. Many of us don't realise there are online tools available to imitate types of colour blindness. These tools allow us to easily identify problems.

Velina Valcheva - Final year MEng Computer Science student

The project included the introduction of alternative file formats, accessibility scores for existing content, accessibility feedback, and guidance for content creators.

The students had extensive training on how to spot and remedy digital accessibility problems, such as:

  • issues with colour contrast
  • incorrect use of heading styles
  • lack of alternative text descriptions for images

Professional development

Alongside the technical skills, the Accessiblity Allies also had opportunities to develop their professional skills, through speaking with colleagues across University departments, running presentations with academics, and presenting their work at a conference.

I developed a lot of transferrable skills, like working in a team towards a common goal, and how to successfully present my progress in departmental meetings. I also developed a passion for helping other students, which led to me undertaking other responsibilities like Computer Science course representative.

Sian Brookes - 3rd year MEng Computer Science student

Learn more about the resources and materials that the team produced on the Digital Learning blog.