Why accessibility matters

 Graphic of a megaphoneWhat is accessibility? Why does it matter? Here we'll explore why accessibility is important to everyone. 


What is accessibility? 

We want our campuses to be welcoming, safe and comfortable environments for students, staff and visitors. Accessibility is key to that goal, and refers to the design of products, services, equipment and environments so as to ensure they are inclusive of disabled people. 

In Higher Education, this means removing existing barriers, and 'designing-out' potential barriers, that might prevent students, staff and visitors having fair and equal access to, for example, learning resources, buildings, and equipment. 

At University of Birmingham, we are working hard with a programme of development to ensure that UoB is as accessible as possible. 

Explore what we're doing

Who does accessibility benefit? 

Everyone! Inclusive design is good design. It provides people (not just disabled people) with more options in terms of how they can navigate and interact with the world.

For example, dropped kerbs in pavements make life easier for cyclists and people pushing prams as well as wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. 

Why be accessible? 

Firstly, it is the right thing to do. In the UK at least 1 in 5 people have a long term illness or disability, and most of us will become either temporarily or permanently disabled at some point in our lives. We are committed to ensuring everyone has fair and equal access to University of Birmingham. 

Furthermore, it's the law. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against those with protected characteristics, including disabled people. 

So, what are we doing?

The University has a programme of works to improve accessibility across our campuses and digital content. You can find information related to many areas of accessibility development within these pages. 

As an example, here to give you an overview of what we're working on in Estates is Hilary Tansley, Estates Accessibility Officer.

Hilary Tansley

Estates Accessibility Officer

“Hi there. I joined the University of Birmingham in 2019, having previously worked as a Surveyor for another university; I am also trained as an Access Consultant. I’ve been working with colleagues in Estates to advise what’s required for new buildings, refurbishment projects and making campus more easily accessible and meet best practice standards for access by disabled staff, students and visitors. These requirements have been brought together in an Estates ‘Inclusive Design Guide’ so that all Design Teams know what’s expected at the start of a building project. Recent examples of smaller access improvements include the ‘Changing Places’ sanitary facility in the Library, additional handrails and seating on the Green Heart and upgrading external routes on campus with dropped kerbs and tactile paving. I am keen to engage with staff and students with disabilities and School / College facilities and building managers to discuss access barriers encountered on campus and their priorities for access work.”



Our progress, so far

In this video, Hilary Tansley, Estates Accessibility Officer, explores University of Birmingham's progress towards accessibility, from the University's foundation, to present day, whilst reflecting on our challenges, and future opportunities. 

Accessibility to Inclusion: Reflections on University of Birmingham's accessibility journey.



Did you find what you were looking for?

If you have any comments, queries, or feedback on this page, don't hesitate to email us at studentequality@contacts.bham.ac.uk


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