ASPIRE stories

The ASPIREeducation story

17 August 2020

Educational Aspirations: Introducing ASPIREeducation

With the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations coming into effect on 23 September 2020, the next 45 days will be a time of hectic preparation and pressure for the education sector. Under the new legislation “a public sector body must provide an accessibility statement in accordance with the model accessibility statement and keep that statement under regular review.” The model accessibility statement and accompanying guidance have been prepared by the Government Digital Service to define the requirements for a public sector accessibility statement.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) monitor the compliance of public sector bodies on behalf of the Minister for the Cabinet Office. Enforcement of the new regulations falls to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in England, Scotland and Wales and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI). The GDS states that:

Organisations that do not meet the accessibility requirement or fail to provide a satisfactory response to a request to produce information in an accessible format, will be failing to make reasonable adjustments. This means they will be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The EHRC and ECNI can therefore use their legal powers against offending organisations, including investigations, unlawful act notices and court action.

But how can you measure whether your statement is compliant? There is currently no accreditation process for public sector accessibility statements and this lack of clear-cut reassurance can lead to concern on the part of public sector organisations.

Introducing ASPIREeducation

To combat this sense of unease, textBOX have worked with McNaught Consultancy and All Able to develop a new ASPIRE service: ASPIREeducation. ASPIREeducation is the first accreditation service for public sector accessibility statements and focuses on the higher education and further education sectors. Since its launch in 2018 the ASPIREreview process has successfully raised the standard of accessibility statements in the international publishing industry through the introduction of the ASPIREpublisher and ASPIREplatform services. We understand the complexities of crafting a user-focused accessibility statement and the nuances of compliance with the regulations.

The ASPIREeducation review process provides comprehensive guidance to help institutions write a quality accessibility statement. We can help you at every step of the process through transparent scoring criteria, practical guidelines, and consulting services if a little extra help may be required.

The verified ASPIREscores are then publicly ranked to create a unique resource for the sector and for prospective students. ASPIREeducation is also integrated with the searchBOX Directory + searchBOX Finder, so users will be able to seamlessly explore available ASPIREreviews alongside accessibility contacts + statements.

ASPIREeducation will essentially map the accessibility landscape of higher and further education and create a new standard for the sector. An institution’s accessibility statement will become a window on their engagement with accessible teaching practices.

Facing the FACTS with your accessibility statement.

ASPIREeducation is based upon the newly developed FACTS model which weaves user-focused practices with the existing compliance-focus of the GDS statement and regulations. The FACTS model is based on the 5 characteristics of a good accessibility statement:

  • FORMATIVE: it makes users smarter at exploiting accessible content.

  • ACTIONABLE: it makes users resilient, helping them deal with inaccessible content.

  • COMPLIANT: it keeps the organisation safe by covering the legal requirements.

  • TRANSPARENT: it keeps disabled users on board by being honest and accountable.

  • SUPPORTIVE: it makes users confident by clarifying support options.

The Government Digital Services template helps you be compliant - and compliance is at the centre of the FACTS model. But compliance alone does not lead to culture change. Achieving a high ASPIREeducation score highlights an institution’s dedication to creating a positive and inclusive educational environment.

Compliance alone does not lead to culture change.

The ASPIREeducation Survey

In tandem with the announcement of ASPIREeducation we are today releasing the ASPIREeducation survey and we would love you to take part. The ASPIREeducation survey takes the temperature of the education sector with regard to the new accessibility regulations. The survey results will shape the content of an upcoming webinar in which a panel of experts will directly address the issues and concerns identified by the survey. The ASPIREeducation webinar will be carefully curated to help you navigate your accessibility work over the coming months, so every survey response counts.

Take the survey and please share the link with your colleagues in the sector: https://bit.ly/3kqJ7wQ

Being Aspirational

The new ASPIREeducation service launches on Monday 17 August and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the meantime. Please contact us to learn more about the service and the benefits to your institution.

We believe that accessibility statements, rather than just ticking a box, can make a real difference. We look forward to helping you tell your accessibility story.

Contact us: aspire@textboxdigital.com

ASPIREeducation is a service provided by textBOX, McNaught Consultancy + All Able.

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