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Universities seek WCAG-compliant accessible e-learning

LondonLearning NewsMarshall E-Learning

UK universities call on e-learning providers to make their courses accessible to the WCAG standard by the end of the year. Senior representatives from 12 UK universities recently attended the ‘Marshall E-Learning User Forum’ in London to discuss the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for web accessibility and approaches to digital accessibility in e-learning.


The group noted how e-learning platforms and authoring tools are struggling to reconcile the balance between interactive media rich modules and accessibility. Calling on the industry to ensure e-learning is accessible to all staff and students, it challenged providers to start producing WCAG-compliant modules the standard by the end of 2020.

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) defines the minimum requirements for web page design and structure to ensure they are accessible for all users, including people with sight loss, hearing issues or reduced mobility. The guidelines encourage all content owners to ensure that their digital properties are perceivable, operable and understandable for everyone.

Compliance is mandatory for public sector websites, but the legislation is unclear whether e-learning modules are also covered. However, while WCAG-compliance may not be mandatory for e-learning, universities are eager to switch to e-learning solutions that are accessible to all of their learners.  

Speaking at the event, Sukhi Bains (Head of Diversity at St Andrews University), said, “Irrespective of any legal obligations, accessible e-learning material is essential for all university staff and students and learning providers should comply with the standards. There doesn’t seem a sense of great urgency among some e-learning suppliers to address WCAG compliance, however those that don’t catch up could miss out.”

The Forum was hosted by e-learning specialists Marshall E-Learning. Founder and CEO David Marshall commented: “It was great to be able to bring these institutions together to share their views and requirements regarding accessibility. Our development is led by our users’ needs so if WCAG compliance is essential for them, it is essential for us.”

Marshall E-Learning is the leading provider of diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias online training. London-based but with a global reach, Marshalls provides customisable and fully bespoke e-learning for corporates, higher education, NHS, local government, further education and the public sector.

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