Accessibility of Digital Learning Materials

The University is committed to making its digital learning materials fully accessible as part of its inclusive approach to teaching and learning.  It aims to provide students with accessible digital content, the ability to generate alternative formats for course files and with captions for videos.

Accessible Digital Content

We aim to make our digital content (webpages, documents, presentations) accessible by following good practice in developing accessible content, such as using headings and styles, providing a text description of images, good colour contrast between text and background.  This is not always possible so if you need an alternative accessible format please contact the author or your Course Coordinator, in the first instance.

Alternative Formats for Course Files

The University was an early adopter of Blackboard Ally in the UK. Blackboard Ally enables you to download your course files in a variety of Alternative Formats – for example a Word document can be downloaded as Tagged PDF, HTML, ePub, Electronic Braille, Audio, or BeeLine Reader formats.

Blackboard Ally is integrated into MyAberdeen, for ease of access. Further information is available on the Ally Quick Start for Students. Where it has not been possible to integrate it, such as in MyMBChB, MyBDS and MyPA, you can use the File transformer to generate alternative formats for course files.

Please note that Ally will not work well for all files, for example files containing equations and formulae such as pdf files created by LaTeX, files with scanned handwritten material, large files.

Video Captions

We are aiming to provide Closed Captions (CC) for videos. If videos do not have captions, this may be due to the accuracy of the Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) software being so low that staff feel they will be detrimental to the student experience unless they are quality-assured and mistakes corrected. Other circumstances where captions for videos may not be present include videos where a key learning outcome involves listening to the audio, for example videos used in Healthcare programmes where the focus of learning is the communication during a digital consultation with a patient. In these situations suitable alternatives will be provided, such as a detailed handout on the topic of the video or a full set of slides which set out the substantive points made (or a combination or the two).

For captions of live video streams we recommend the use of Google Chrome’s automated live captions for Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft’s ASR technology service for MS Teams.

If you require accurate captions for videos or professionally produced live captions as part of your reasonable adjustment please contact the Disability Team by emailing student.disability@abdn.ac.uk who will be able to discuss your requirements.

Disclaimer Statement for Automatically Generated Video Captions

Video captions generated using Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) may be 70 – 90% accurate, or less, and may therefore result in inappropriate or offensive captions that do not match the spoken audio. You should not rely on such captions and instead always cross-reference these against accompanying notes or primary sources, and contact the author of the video if you have any queries about the content.

What Else Are We Doing?

We continue to work on making all our digital learning content accessible by working with staff on good practice on inclusivity and accessibility, focussing on some of the more challenging areas such as Languages, Music, Medicine, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Further Information

Useful information and guides around digital accessibility for users can be found on Toolkit. Our full Accessibility Statement can be found on the University website.