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Adam Turner

Are Universities making progress to ensure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities

Index Accessibility Public sector


At Sitemorse we published our Q4 2019 UK & IE Universities INDEX this week. The INDEX has been published quarterly since 2011 and ranks the websites of over 200 Universities for digital compliance, based on User Experience, Search Engine Optimisation and Governance, Risk and Compliance. 

There has been a lot of press coverage of late on some of the top universities ensuring they do not discriminate against less advantaged pupils. Universities and further education establishment have needed to ensure they comply with the equalities act since it was passed in 2010 – and partly this ensures that pupils, staff and visitors are not discriminated against if they have a disability. 

European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, creating a set of standards for EU public sector bodies, using European standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04) was approved on October 26, 2016. It came into force for in the UK on 23 September 2018. The aim of the regulations is to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

New public sector websites have needed to be complaint since 22 September this year, all other public sector websites need to be compliant by 22 September 2020.

The University of Derby retained their top place in the INDEX, a place they have occupied for five straight quarters.

If we focus on accessibility, University of Derby scored 9 (out of 10) for accessibility and is the only university scoring 7 or above. As for the rest of the universities:

  • 26% of universities scored 5 or 6 (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 46% of universities scored between 1 and 4 (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 27% of universities scored zero for accessibility

University of Derby should be congratulated for taking the lead in this sector on Accessibility.

Top ten websites

  1. University of Derby
  2. King's College London Maths School
  3. University of Worcester
  4. Manchester School of Architecture
  5. The University of Stirling
  6. University of Lincoln
  7. Anglia Ruskin University
  8. South Essex College of Further & Higher Education (Partner of the University of Essex)
  9. Newman University, Birmingham
  10. University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Prifysgol Cymry Y Drindod Dewi Sant)

Five Most improved websites

  • University of Westminster
  • Royal College of Art
  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • University College London
  • ifs School of Finance

The full UK & IE Universities Q4 2019 results can be found here: Sitemorse UK & IE Universities INDEX 

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