Academic Skills Kit (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ask) is an in-house Web-based system developed at Newcastle University which supports the development of academic skills and availability of services.
The University is committed to providing equality of access to services and facilities, and to the development of an inclusive environment for all users and staff. This document provides information about accessibility features and limitations of Academic Skills Kit and plans for future enhancements. It also provides tips and links to tools for improving your experience using Academic Skills Kit and other Websites, depending on your personal needs and preferences.
The Website has been designed to be useable on different browsers with a range of input devices and is responsive to different screen sizes.
Text size can be changed using your browser zoom or text size settings.
The core navigation (main menus and large buttons on the home page) can be used without the need of a mouse, for example by keyboard, using the tab and arrow keys, or by touch screen devices such as mobile phones, or using a screen reader.
Semantic markup (HTML headings, lists, emphasised or special text) are used to provide information on relationships and meaning within the pages of the Website.
Most images which convey content information are given alternative text. See 'What we're doing to improve accessibility' below.
The responsive design enables content in the Website to reflow dynamically and remain functional as resized, so that you can focus on a particular section.
Key issues in Academic Skills Kit are:
Accessibility and inclusivity are important to Newcastle University. All new teaching staff undergo accessibility training as part of the Newcastle Education Practice Scheme. The Learning and Teaching Development Programme has Accessibility in Practice workshops that support academic and professional services staff in how to create accessible and inclusive learning and teaching resources.
Our plans for the future for Academic Skills Kit include:
The following are just a small selection of the many tools available for improving your experience of using Websites (not specific to Academic Skills Kit). Some are provided and supported by the University. On the other hand, free browser-plugins may be worth exploring, particularly if you use your own device, though they are not generally covered by IT support. The tools you may find useful will depend on your particular needs and preferences.
JAWS is a specialist screen reader designed for people with visual impairments. It can be installed on specific University PC clusters on request by students and is also available for staff.
In addition, there are general text-to-speech tools which everyone can use. For example:
Selection Reader is a free browser plugin for Chrome.
Reader is a free browser plugin for Firefox.
Modern browsers for phones and PCs have built in zoom features, however, there are additional software and free browser-plugins to help you resize text for more comfortable reading. For example:
Zoomtext (magnifier and reader) is available to students and staff, via NUIT.
Reader View is a free plugin for Chrome which enables text resizing, changing background colours and even hiding adverts.
There is also Windows Magnifier (built into Windows 10) or Zoom (built in to Mac iOS).
There are a range of free browser plugins which you may find useful for adjusting contrast. For example:
High Contrast for Chrome
No Squints for Firefox
SensusAccess – lets you convert PDFs, JPEGs and other files into an e-book, text file, audio or braille. Newcastle University currently holds a site licence for this.
ClaroRead Cloud OCR Service - converts image files (eg. jpeg, png, pdf) to accessible, searchable text. The University has access to this and a monthly quota of image conversions.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is specialist voice recognition software, which is available in the bookable study rooms in the Robinson and Walton Libraries. Contact the Student Wellbeing Service to arrange access.
Voice-In is a free browser plug-in for Chrome for voice typing.
Many people find mind mapping and concept mapping to be a useful way of making notes and organising information.
MindView – is a concept mapping program, for which the University has a site licence. MindView is installed on all managed clusters and can be installed onto staff PCs on request.
Spreed is a fee plug-in for Chrome to support speed reading using Rapid Serial Visual Presentation.
If you need assistance relating to a specific course requirement then please contact the course leader in the first instance.
If you have any general questions about accessibility relating to this Website – see 'Feedback' below
Student Health and Wellbeing Service
Includes details of Disability Support and services available for people with Specific Learning Difficulties.
Specialist software for Students (NUIT)
Specialist software for Staff (NUIT)
We are keen to hear your feedback and hear about any problems you experience related to accessibility or technical problems for Academic Skills Kit. Please contact:
Digital Library Services
Please state clearly the details of the problem and the context / particular part of the Website.
We used a range of tools and guidance including:
For documentation and help content we used:
This document draws inspiration from Alistair McNaught who delivered a series of workshops at Newcastle University in 2019 and aims to follow the ethos of inclusivity and empowerment. The tips and tools are potentially useful for all users.
Accessibility: A brief overview of Bootstrap’s features and limitations for the creation of accessible content.
https://getbootstrap.com/docs/4.0/getting-started/accessibility/ (accessed 20th August 2019)
Alistair McNaught “Inclusive digital practice - teaching and learning”
https://www.learningapps.co.uk/moodle/xertetoolkits/play.php?template_id=2083 (accessed 20th August 2019)
This statement was last updated on 27th September 2019