Frequently asked questions
Answers to questions that students and staff frequently ask about accessibility.
Qu 1. As a student where can I go to get information and assistance?
If you are a student with specific individual requirements, then please contact the Disability and Learning Support Service.
Qu 2. Where can disabled staff go for help and support?
Disabled staff can speak to their line managers, contact Human Resources, contact the Occupational Health Service or contact the Staff Disability Advice Service at StaffDisability@ed.ac.uk. The Staff Disability Advice Service (SDAS) can provide advice and guidance to disabled staff including deaf and neurodivergent colleagues as well as their line managers. Staff can contact the service to get advice on reasonable adjustments in the workplace or information about Access to Work.
- Health and Safety Department
Charles Stewart House
9-16 Chambers Street
- Post Code
- EH1 1HT
The service is available for appointments during these days and times:
· Monday afternoons between 12.30 and 15.30
· Tuesday mornings between 09.00 and 12.00
· Thursday afternoons between 12.30 and 15.30
· Some Friday mornings between 09.00 and 12.00
Emails will be responded to within 5 working days
Occupational Health Service
Occupational Health can advise staff and their managers on issues related to their health at work. Staff can self-refer or their manager can refer them.
IS also run a disability computing support service for staff. For more details please visit the website.
Qu 3. How can I get my course materials in an alternative format?
If you are a student and require your course textbooks in alternative formats, you should contact the Disability and Learning Support Service, who will then contact the relevant personnel within Information Services.
Qu 4. Is it more accessible to use a yellow background for individuals with Dyslexia?
There is a common misconception that using a yellow background will assist all individuals with Dyslexia.
In fact, the situation is much more complex. Some people find that reading text is easier when on a coloured background, which might be yellow or another colour, depending on the individual.
The specific shading that is best for an individual is often assessed by an optician who may then prescribe coloured lenses.
Therefore yellow paper would assist a small percentage of individuals with Dyslexia but make the document less accessible for others.
Best practice is therefore to use black font on off white/cream background but to have a clear statement at the end of the document saying that the document can be provided in alternative formats. Further advice on alternative formats is given below under the question entitled "I have heard I should produce documents in alternative formats - how should I go about this in practice?".
More information is available from the British Dyslexia Organisation website.
Qu 5. What font size and style should I be using?
Good practice would be the use of a sans serif font such as Arial. Fonts such as Times New Roman are much less accessible.
A font size of 12 is a minimum and font size 14 is considered best practice.
Avoid writing in block capitals, using italics, or underlining.
Use left justification for text, never fully justify text or right justify.
Use headings and styles in Word etc to format documents.
State at the end that the document can be produced in alternative formats such as large print. Further advice on alternative formats is given below under the question entitled "I have heard I should produce documents in alternative formats - how should I go about this in practice?".
Qu 6. How do we decide what is a 'reasonable' adjustment and what isn’t?
There is no easy answer to this question. Because of the way that the legislation is framed, each situation must be evaluated individually.
Points that should be taken into consideration include:
- Cost: In comparison to the finances of the whole University (not just your department) and any external sources of funding which are available.
- Effectiveness: To what extent would the adjustment resolve the difficulty?
- Practicality: How practical would it be to implement such a change and how much potential disruption would it cause?
- Past expenditure: The amount the organisation has already spent on resolving this issue.
- Health and safety: Would the adjustment breach any current health and safety legislation?
If you are in doubt as to whether an adjustment is reasonable or not you should contact your local Human Resources advisor for more information.
Qu 7. How do I know what adjustments a disabled person will require?
You don’t! Individuals will have different requirements, even if they have the same disability.
They may well be in the best position to know what adjustments they require and it would be extremely bad practice to assume an individual’s requirements without asking them.
However, there are many things that can be done to make services more accessible in general, and the law states that institutions should take an anticipatory stance on accessibility issues.
So Information Services is working towards ensuring that all services are as accessible as possible, thus reducing the amount of individual adjustments that are required.
But there will always be a need to consult each individual and check what additional adjustments are required. For help and advice please contact the Staff Disability Advice Service at StaffDisability@ed.ac.uk
Qu 8. Who deals with reasonable adjustments for students accessing services provided by Information Services?
Students should be referred to the Disability and Learning Support Service in order that an individual’s requirements can be assessed.
The Disability and Inclusive Learning Service will draw up a profile for each individual outlining their requirements. Once staff are informed of these requirements, it is their responsibility to adhere to them.
Qu 9. Who is responsible for accessibility issues?
Everyone has a responsibility to ensure everything they produce or do is as accessible to as many users as possible. Whether you are an academic professor or a website designer, accessibility issues should always be a consideration.
Qu 10. I have heard I should produce documents in alternative formats – how should I go about this in practice?
At the end of all documents both internal and external, the words 'this document is available in alternative formats upon request such as large print" should be added.
The name, email address and phone number of the person or department to contact for this should be given. You should always include two methods of contacting the person or department responsible for a document.
A copy of the document in the requested format should be provided to the individual free of charge.
If a copy of the original document is kept in Word, it is quick and easy to enlarge the font size or print a copy onto coloured paper.
Requests for documents in alternative formats will be infrequent and therefore not a huge burden on time or resources, but this service is invaluable for the individuals who require it.
For practical guidelines see our webpages on producing documents in alternative formats.
Qu 11. How do I make my website accessible?
This is a complex issue, but some general points to consider are covered on a specific web page IS has created:
The most recent guidelines on website accessibility are available from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website.
The W3C produce the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, a worldwide recognised standard.
By law all public sector body websites, including the University, must meet WCAG 2.1 AA standard. Moreover, websites must have an Accessibility Statement, in line with the government template, under The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
Many questions regarding disability and accessibility are very specific, so please feel free to contact Viki Galt, Head of Disability Information, if you need further information or assistance.
BSL users can contact me via Contact Scotland BSL, the on-line British Sign Language interpreting service. Find out more on the Contact Scotland BSL website.
Request an alternative format
To request this document in an alternative format, such as large print or on coloured paper, please contact Viki Galt, the Head of Disability Information.