The importance of technology and accessibility in college marketing and communications

Following the shocking findings from research into accessibility and technology in colleges for blind and partially sighted students, the Association of Colleges (AOC) has been working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to improve awareness across the sector.

Last month it hosted an event for FE staff to understand the problems and discuss solutions and this week ran a further event, specifically for marketing and communications professionals, for them to better understand how their roles are so important in this.

Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Head of Education, Tara Chattaway, was a key note speaker at the event. She opened her presentation with TPT’s ‘What do we see? 2 video, which uses augmented reality to show how the world looks to vision impaired children and young people. This demonstrated why it is so important to ensure all information and learning platforms are accessible.

Accessibility is the responsibility for everyone

She shared the findings of the ‘Technology and accessibility in further education’ report and emphasised: “Accessibility is the responsibility for everyone and marketing and communications teams have a pivotal role to play in this.”

The research found a lack of compliance with website regulations and little focus on inclusion, accessibility and anticipatory adjustments. It also identified an over-reliance on specialist disability/learning support staff, coupled with a general lack of staff disability awareness.

Our challenge to marketing and communications team

She set three immediate actions to delegates at the event:

1. To look at their social media marketing campaigns to ensure all information is accessible. For example, that alt text is used for all photos and pictures.
2. To check their college’s accessibility statement and whether it is compliant. If done properly this will mean that an audit has been carried out on all content to check accessibility. It sets out their plan to ensure all content is accessible.
3. To speak to their colleagues and ask if the college has an accessibility policy in place, and if not, what plans there are to develop one.

Support for marketing and communications teams

Tara reassured delegates that they are not alone in this journey. There are lots of resources and support out there for them including:

Making college accessible – the handy guide produced by TPT and All Able sets out clear steps colleges can take to ensure they have an inclusive learning environment

Delivering Accessible Learning – TPT and RNIB guidance provides information, links to resources, top tips and a checklist to help colleges support blind and partially sighted students.

There is also support from All Able and JISC.

For further information
Please contact studentsupport@pocklington-trust.org.uk or check out our webpages www.pockington-trust.org.uk/student-support for further information and advice.

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