Terms and conditions

Accessibility and inclusion policy

This is FutureLearn’s accessibility policy which FutureLearn shall consider in reviewing courses.  The University’s requirements are detailed in section 4.2 of this policy.

1. Introduction

1.1.FutureLearn and the University (hereafter referred to as “We”) recognise and value the diversity of our learners, and ‘we will take reasonable steps to ensure learners can access course content, can participate fully in learning activities, and can achieve the learning objectives of our courses.

1.2.We recognise that some of our learners will have particular needs and circumstances and we will strive to identify and respond to barriers to participation in our courses so that these can be reduced or removed.

1.3.We view the diversity of our learners as a resource that enhances their learning experience and the experience of other learners.

2. Aims of this policy

This policy will support the aims of:

2.1.Creating an inclusive learning environment that maximises the participation of learners on FutureLearn courses.

2.2.Providing a high quality learning experience for learners with particular needs.

2.3.Embedding to the extent reasonable inclusion and accessibility in learning design.

2.4.Enhancing the reputation of the FutureLearn partnership and platform as an exemplar of inclusive learning.

2.5.Reducing the risk of legal challenge from individuals and representative groups.

3.   Equality and Diversity Principles

3.1.We value diversity and we recognise that different learners bring different perspectives, ideas, knowledge and culture, and that this difference brings great strength.

3.2.We will not unlawfully discriminate or exclude based on individual characteristics or circumstances, such as age; disability; caring or dependency responsibilities; gender or gender identity; marriage or civil partnership status; political opinion; pregnancy and maternity; race, colour, caste, nationality, ethnic or national origin; religion or belief; sexual orientation; socio-economic background; trade union membership status, or other distinctions. Such discrimination represents a waste of talent and a denial of opportunity for self-fulfilment.

3.3.We will always aspire to create an inclusive teaching and learning environment by taking steps to identify barriers to learning and addressing these.

3.4.We respect the rights of individuals, including the right to hold different views and beliefs. We will work to prevent these differences being manifested in a way that violates any person’s dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for others.

3.5.We expect commitment and involvement from all our partners and members of the learning community in upholding our equality and diversity principles.

 

4.   Responsibilities

4.1.        Responsibilities of FutureLearn

4.1.1.     To develop a learning platform that aims to be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0[1], so that we maximise learner participation.

4.1.2.     To work with partners to create ever more accessible courses that maximise learner participation.

4.1.3.     To provide moderation to challenge any flagged language or behaviour of learners that may create an intimidating or hostile environment.

4.1.4.     To record feedback or complaints from learners about inaccessible learning objectives, course content or other learning resources, so that we can share information with our partners and continue to make improvements in developing inclusive learning.

4.2.        Responsibilities of partners[2]

4.2.1.     To strive to design courses with learning objectives that are achievable, whenever feasible and reasonable, for learners with particular impairments and learners for whom English is not their first language.

4.2.2.     To identify and document aspects of course learning that may be challenging for learners with particular impairments so that learners can be informed of any challenges.

4.2.3.     To avoid any action that could amount to unlawful discrimination under UK law, including failure to make reasonable adjustments to learning materials where necessary.

4.2.4.     To develop courses that recognise, and represent learner diversity, so that learners can put in place or request adjustments that enable them to participate.

4.2.5.     To work with FutureLearn to develop good practice that will create an inclusive learning environment and culture, so that we continuously improve the learner experience.

5. Using FutureLearn

We are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability. We work continuously to increase the accessibility and usability of our website aiming to adhere to the guidelines set out in WCAG 2.0. Read our page on accessibility testing to find out how we’re currently doing.

Particular attention is paid to the following areas:

Keyboard Access

An important goal is for the site to be fully accessible via the keyboard. Many users with disabilities are unable to use a mouse or other pointing device.

As well as being able to navigate around the clickable elements of a document a user must also have some way of determining their current location. For this reason an element with focus will always be distinguishable from its unfocused state.

Skip Links

Where web pages have a large amount of content a visitor will often find they have to TAB through a large number of irrelevant links to get to the one they want. To combat this we provide mechanisms for skipping large groups of links and navigation elements.

Alternative Text

In situations where the visual content is not available to the reader text alternatives ensure that no information or functionality is lost. We attempt to provide concise and relevant alt text for all non-text content in the administrative and user spaces and also provide the ability for content providers to specify their own text alternatives for uploaded content such as images, video and audio.

Forms

To assist web users with vision and/or mobility impairment, as well as those with cognitive and learning disabilities, we use semantic markup and explicitly associated labels to improve the navigability and functionality of all forms on this website for all users. As well a indicating required fields clearly to we validate the information users input and if errors are found provide alert dialogues describing the nature of the error in text.

Rich Media

For multimedia content we aim to ensure that the video or audio player is accessible to keyboard users. We also provide the facility for educators to include transcripts and captions or subtitles for uploaded video or audio.

Colour Contrast

People with low vision often have difficulty reading text that does not contrast with its background. This can be exacerbated if the person has a colour vision deficiency that lowers the contrast even further. For text and images of text we adhere to the WCAG Level AA requirements concerning colour contrast. Large text (18pt or 14pt bold) must have a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1, Standard text, must have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Headings

Since some users skim through a document by navigating its headings, it is important to use them appropriately to convey document structure.

Throughout the site HTML heading tags are used to convey document structure. H1 tags are used for main titles, H2 tags for subtitles etc.

Screen readers

A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen (or, more accurately, sent to standard output, whether a video monitor is present or not). This interpretation is then re-presented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device. Screen readers are a form of assistive technology (AT) potentially useful to people who are blind, visually impaired, illiterate or learning disabled.

This website has been designed to work with the screen readers such JAWS.

Validation

All HTML and CSS is validated for standards compliance against the relevant DTD using the W3C Markup and CSS Validation Services.

Links

In order to assist users in navigating the site links are clearly identifiable and distinguishable from surrounding text using presentation that doesn’t rely on colour or by using context. In addition we will provide clear and meaningful link titles which make sense when read out of context.

 


[1] WCAG guidelines are recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), widely regarded as the leading authority on accessible web content. Following the guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, and will often make content more usable to learners in general. The guidelines are available online at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/.

[2] The Inclusive Learning Guidance document provides further information.