Current affairs in accessibility in October 2023
HAMK’s accessibility network met at the end of October. Five common themes emerged from the different units and functions: campuses, IT systems, communication, languages, and accessibility plan.
The accessibility of all HAMK campuses has already been assessed earlier. Now, campus libraries have been examined. An induction loop is being acquired for the main library located in the Hämeenlinna University Centre.
In sports halls, attention is paid to signage. Alternative or assistive arrangements will also be needed to improve accessibility in old buildings.
Accessibility of IT systems
HAMK has 84 different study-related information systems. The mapping of their accessibility was started already in the spring. So far, the accessibility statements of 36 systems have been obtained. Based on these, it will now be estimated how many of the systems reach the required AA level and how many still need to be developed. At the same time, the question is how higher education institutions could work together: the systems used are the same in many HEIs.
The accessibility of the online store has also been assessed, and corrections have been identified. This work will also be boosted by the E-commerce Accessibility Seminar Day.
In connection with the ongoing website renewal, the entire platform and the services connected to it have been examined. Some of the content has been rewritten, and alternative descriptions of new brand images have been discussed. Attention has also been paid to the accessibility of social media content.
The technical accessibility of publications – articles, posts and files – is under scrutiny. (Improving the accessibility of content has always been part of the editors’ work).
The instructions in the staff intranet will be transformed from attachments into web pages. Doing so, their accessibility is better for the user, and they are also simpler to create and update than separate files.
The use of Finnish and English is a hot topic. The accessibility network discussed how users of both languages could be served as well as possible, but appropriately. There are alternatives: Assistive technologies (e.g., real-time translation subtitling for online meetings) could be utilized more and better. Also, easy language could help students who speak Finnish as a second language or are just learning it. The language issue still requires a lot of reflection – and action!
Implementation of the accessibility plan
The accessibility plan has goals that need to be carried through the organization. However, operational work is carried out on different campuses and units in slightly different ways. A basic implementation model has been designed for the use of HAMK’s units, and the network is now jointly looking for good practices as to what kind of structures there are, where encounters happen, where decisions are made, and where results of work are monitored.
One goal shared by all HAMK is increasing accessibility skills. A decision has been made by top management that every staff member will complete the e-learning course on the Requirements of the Accessibility and Digital Services Act (available in Finnish).