DfE School Guidance – Meeting Digital Accessibility Standards
Is your school meeting the DfE’s Digital Accessibility Standards?
In January 2024, the Department for Education updated their guidance to schools regarding how to meet digital and technology standards. This standard specifies the minimum requirements for how accessible your digital products, content and services are.
The DfE’s Digital Accessibility standards state that everyone should be able to access the same information and use equipment, regardless of their needs and situation.
The DfE set out three requirements your school needs to meet in regards to your Digital Accessibility:
- Include digital accessibility in relevant strategies and policies
- Hardware and software should support the use of accessibility features
- Communications should be accessible to all
1. Strategies and Policies
Schools and colleges should ensure equitable access for a wide range of individuals by integrating digital accessibility into their policies and strategies. This approach can help eliminate obstacles to teaching and learning, enable informed technology purchases, and fulfill legal obligations regarding equality and access.
School Leadership Teams (SLT) should determine which strategies and policies require evaluation and how to incorporate digital accessibility into them. Furthermore, collaborating with students, staff, and parents to understand their digital accessibility requirements is essential.
The strategies and policies you could include accessible digital technology in includes:
- Digital technology strategy
- Curriculum policy
- SEND policy
2. Accessibility Features on Hardware and Software
1 in 5 individuals in the UK have a disability, emphasising the importance of accessibility for everyone. The needs of students, staff, parents, and carers may differ based on their circumstances. Digital accessibility features are commonly integrated into current devices and operating systems, and these features should encompass:
- Text-to-speech and dictation
- Caption settings
- Zoom and adjustment settings
- Translation and language tools
The hardware and software utilised by students and staff should include these features and provide support for users. These features aim to eliminate obstacles when accessing teaching, learning, and school or college operations.
To meet this standard, SLT should make sure new and existing hardware, software and digital services:
- Ensure accessibility or incorporate accessibility features
- Provide equal access opportunities
- Compatible with assistive technology and audio-visual equipment
- Maintain safety and security while utilising accessibility features; ensure they are not hindered by standard security protocols
- Take into account accessibility requirements when utilising IT during exams
3. Accessible Communications
Ensuring that communications are accessible can benefit students, staff, parents, and caregivers. This support extends to individuals with special educational needs, disabilities, and those learning English as an additional language.
Accessible communication aids parents and caregivers in assisting their children’s learning, helps staff address the needs and concerns of students, parents, and caregivers, and supports administrative and teaching tasks for staff.
To meet this standard, you need to make sure:
- Websites are accessible for everyone
- Alternative formats for all communications are explored, including email attachments, text messages and social media
- There is understanding of accessibility and its importance throughout the school or college
- Staff are trained on accessibility and can write and access content in an accessible format
- Staff know who to contact to help them make things accessible
When should you meet the standards?
Digital accessibility must be a key focus in your upcoming policy and strategy review. If your current hardware and software lack accessibility features, it is essential to ensure they are incorporated when purchasing new equipment or services.
How can we help?
At Tel Group, we can provide your school with IT Support, helping to build your digital technology strategy to improve your digital accessibility, aiding in completing these standards accordingly.