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How to maintain Accessibility and Wellbeing practices when staff are stretched

With the expectation that staff absence and self-isolation will continue for the next few weeks, it can be challenging to sustain the momentum of accessibility projects and training. With staff stretched to capacity covering shortages and supporting their students, how can we ensure the work on accessibility and digital inclusion doesn’t get relegated to the bottom of the list?

Clear and Inclusive messaging

There will be lots of information shared throughout your organisation. Guidance from management to staff, institution-wide updates to students and service information within departments. All communication should use clear plain language and there should be suitable alternative formats available. It is essential individuals have access to information in the format they need. So, ensure captions are on videos, hyperlink text is meaningful, images have alternative text and downloads are readable on mobile devices.

Go for incremental gains

If you must postpone meetings and deadlines for larger implementation projects, you can still uphold accessibility practices. Prompt staff that, with many people returning to remote working and accessing information from home, use of accessibility checkers will maintain a baseline of accessibility compliance. Recorded sessions are beneficial, for those who are unable to attend, as a reference. Making sure resources are available on relevant channels, with clear directions on how to access them and the expectation of their use, is also good practice.

Check-in with your colleagues

The digital well-being of staff and students is also paramount. It plays a far greater part in our wellness than ever before. Encourage staff to take some time (especially when times are difficult) to check the impact of technologies on their mental, physical and emotional health.

It’s important to promote empathy. Everyone will be feeling the toll of the last two years and Omicron is a stark reminder it’s not over yet. As one person’s symptoms of coronavirus can differ from another’s, so will their experience of living and working through the pandemic. Take the time to remind your staff and students of the types of support you have available to them, and how to access it. Above all, empower them to use the support when they need it.

Further reading:

Inclusive digital practice and digital wellbeing | Jisc

Practical steps to meeting accessibility regulations | Jisc

Related articles:

Experts round-up ideas for using technology to overcome challenge of rising COVID-19 absences | Jisc

Does GDPR prevent me sharing with other staff the fact that someone has tested positive? – Inspiring learning (jiscinvolve.org)

Keep your strategy on track during uncertainty   – Inspiring learning (jiscinvolve.org)

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