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Accessible alternative routes

Accessible alternative routes prevent accessibility non-compliance from blocking someone's ability to access or do whatever they need. No one should be disadvantaged because of a disability in the University's the digital estate.

You will need to create an accessible alternative route if you are responsible for a website, system, service, document, or media type that isn't fully compliant with accessibility standards.

Use the following sections relevant to your situation to learn how to produce and establish an accessible alternative route.

Alternatives for browser-based products

Browser-based products include systems or tools accessed via a web browser and purchased via or developed by, or on behalf of, the University.

If a browser-based product doesn't conform to WCAG 2.2 AA and there are no alternative compliant products and the product must be used, the University product owner must create and provide an accessible alternative route.

This route can either mitigate known non-compliances against the WCAG standard, or substitute for the product entirely.

How to create an alternative to a browser-based product

Creating mitigations for non-compliances

The mitigations you will need to create depend on the ways the product doesn't comply with WCAG 2.2 AA.

Look at the non-compliance and consider how it affects people using the product. Does it prevent them from seeing information or completing an action? What would remove that barrier?

Possible mitigations may include companion guidance that explains what low-contrast text says, or how to fix errors in a submission process where the product doesn't adequately explain this itself.

It's important that any mitigations are also compliant. See the guidance and checklists on this site for ways to do this. Typically, the simpler something is the more likely it is to be compliant.

Creating a substitute for the product

If you choose, or need, to produce an alternative that replaces the need to use a product, you need to consider what the user needs from it. Do they need to submit information, or do they need to use it to export data, or connect with a person or system?

Sometimes complicated browser-based products do quite simple things that can be replicated with several simpler products or by an individual.

For example, a product that gathers information to make a room booking could be replaced by a notice that offers an alternative email address and what to include in that email. Any output the product would provide, such as a confirmation screen, should also be mirrored - such as by emailing the person to confirm the booking has been made.

It's important that any substitute is also compliant. See the guidance and checklists on this site for ways to do this. Typically, the simpler something is the more likely it is to be compliant.

Sharing an alternative to a browser-based product

When one or more routes have been established, there should be explanations placed on the/any relevant web pages and communications covering the product.

For products used in teaching, the route should be explained on the/any relevant Minerva module accessibility statement where the product is expected to be used.

Alternatives for digital office files

Digital office files include:

  • Microsoft Word and other word processor files.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint and other presentation files.
  • Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet files.
  • PDF (portable document format) files.

If a digital office file cannot be made accessible, it is acceptable to produce a simple, accessible, text-based alternative. This should provide all the text and visual information in a text-based manner that prioritises the efficiency of sharing or gathering information over presentation.

Whenever possible, a web page must be used to deliver a simple, accessible alternative. Web pages work across all kinds of devices, do not require specialist software to view, and can be customised by the user.

If this isn’t possible, another digital office file can be used as a simple, accessible, text-based alternative. Any alternative file also needs to be accessible. Providing a text-based file makes this easier to achieve.

Sharing an alternative to a digital office file

This alternative version must be presented alongside, and linked to from the first page of, the original version.