What is expected from the UWE Bristol digital learning environment

The definitive version of this statement will always be the live webpage and will be updated as needed by UWE Bristol.

This statement and accompanying accessibility plan is for our digital learning environment and includes such systems as Blackboard, Event Capture (Panopto) and PebblePad.

View our web accessibility statement.

Our digital learning environment

  • Our content will be 'perceivable' to your senses.
  • Our digital learning environment pages and resources will be 'operable', which means you can operate the interface.
  • We will create pages and resources that are 'understandable' so you are able to understand the information we are providing.
  • Where possible, pages and resources will be 'robust', meaning that they can be interpreted by a wide variety of assistive technologies.

What we will do

  • We will commit to raising awareness amongst our staff and students around the importance of creating accessible digital content.
  • We will ensure that pages and documents are readable by assistive technologies.
  • We will ensure pages and documents are accessible on a range of devices.
  • We will provide you with opportunities to highlight difficulties in accessing content to academics and support services.
  • We have adopted Blackboard ‘Ally’ which allows you to download resources in a wide range of accessible formats.
  • We will direct you to support services should you need, for additional support.

Our plan to address content that is not yet accessible

The digital learning environment

The digital learning environment is made up of two elements: the systems themselves and the content that we upload into them. The systems themselves are generally accessible and are regularly reviewed by the vendors and us. 

Content that is uploaded or created by staff however is entirely within University control and this plan sets out how we will deal with current, historical, and future learning resources.

Blackboard content

We have been building content (resources) in Blackboard for years. We know that a lot of this content is not fully accessible. We plan to deal with this content in the following way.

Current content academic year 2019 – 2020

Content that students interact with on a regular basis such as module or programme handbooks and anything related to assessment, we aim to make accessible commencing November 2019.

We will then deal with the remaining content in a logical way, making accessible content that is needed soonest or is least accessible a priority.

Historical content

Much of our online content is historical. We intend to continue to make this content available, but will not be making it all accessible unless this is requested. This is because we need to focus our resources on ensuring that content that is in current and high usage is prioritised. We will, however, ensure that where a particular request to make historical material accessible is made, that this is done at the earliest opportunity.

Future content

We aim to make all future content on Blackboard accessible. The University is able to monitor this process and intervene where content is deemed less than fully accessible.

Other systems

Blackboard Ally is available in Blackboard which staff are expected to use to check accessibility of resources before uploading to any other systems. 

Event Capture (Panopto)

Most of the resource in Event Capture is video based. This presents its own problems in that captioning of video is either inaccurate if done by machine or prohibitively expensive if done by a human. Our aim is to have Event Capture content captioned from September 2020 onwards, but if accurate captioning is only possible when it is done by a person rather than a machine, this would be a disproportionate burden for the University. We will review this situation regularly.


Most resources in Pebblepad are uploaded and shared by students. While there is no legal requirement for students to ensure their uploads are accessible, it is nevertheless a good opportunity for them to learn to write accessibly. This is likely to be a useful skill that they can take with them into future educational and workplace activities. We will make learning resources available for students to help them with this. The accessibility checker in Microsoft Office is an excellent resource and a good place to start.

Where teaching staff make resources available in Pebblepad, these resources are accessible.

Mobile applications (apps)

We aim to have all University apps accessible by September 2020.

Other learning systems

The University has other learning systems such as polling or voting systems. Generally, these do not have much content as this is largely contained within Blackboard. Where these systems do have content, we aim to make that content accessible.

Reviewing our plans and statement

We plan to review our accessibility statement and plan twice in the first year in March and September 2020 and then annually each September.

How students can highlight difficulties in accessing content

First step is to approach your module leader. You can do this in person or by sending them an email.

Alternatively, you can send a more general help request by using the accessibility link in any course site in Blackboard, which will be actioned by InfoPoint or you can raise the issue with a member of staff at an InfoPoint who will either help you directly or will know how to get further assistance.

If you are not happy with our response

We aim to help as soon as we can. Once you have reported a problem with Blackboard or any of our learning systems, or asked for an alternative format, but you are not happy with our response, you can let us know by raising a formal complaint via UWE Student Complaints procedure and we will respond to you.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Back to top