Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Published on 20 May 2021

Maastricht University (UM) is fully committed to being inclusive. Accessibility, i.e. making education easily available to anyone, is a crucial part of that. In keeping up with the wider efforts of the Dutch government to increase accessibility, UM signed an official accessibility statement and created a task force to work towards enhancements for students and staff.

Open and inclusive education

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on 20 May is a good opportunity to get everyone at UM thinking and learning about access and inclusion of our education.

Do you know for instance that we pay attention to make all locations as accessible as possible? And that you can report your needs when encountering difficulties in making use of facilities on campus? At the University Library, we provide facilities for students who have special needs. We are also open for discussing specific support when students with disabilities start working on their thesis.


Digital accessibility

In the context of digital accessibility, we currently put effort in enhancing our website. Where applicable, we adapt font-types and size, check for colours and contrast, add alt texts to images and captions to videos, and experiment with screen readers to read aloud what we offer on each page.

The library offers many applications and resources that you need for your education. We check these on criteria that are similar to better accessible websites, but also want to make teaching staff aware of what they can do to create and offer better accessible course material. We offer tips for creating Word documents or PDFs, but also guidelines to make your PowerPoint presentation or knowledge clip as accessible as possible.


Tools for you and your students

There are several tools available, which you can use to help students in their study. You can think about tools that transfer text to speech (e.g screen readers reading aloud what is on the screen) speech to text (such as enabling closed captions to Zoom sessions you host for your tutorial group meetings) or accessibility checkers you can use to check documents or web content before sharing.

Note that we are in the middle of a process and will update these guidelines and tools on a regular basis.


Accessibility as a joint effort

UM views accessibility as an ongoing and collaborative process. Without your input, we can only guess what works for you. So, feel invited to share your share your feedback; whether it is about problems you are encountering or suggestions for improvement.

All units (including the library) are working on a UM-wide standard on both physical and digital accessibility. To that end, the task force ‘Obstacle-free studying and working at UM’ has been set up and UM Disability Support is there for you. Under the umbrella of the task force, the UnliMited Network has been established for and by students and staff with visible and/or invisible disabilities or chronical conditions, neurodiversity or psychological distress.

Join the conversation to ‘clear the path’ for everyone at our university; let us remove barriers and unlock the possible!


clearing the path for some

Author: Gaby Lutgens, Information specialist with focus on open education, OER and digital accessibility


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.


diverse world wide population, with and without disabilities

Library update

Last updated: 20/05/21

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