Drupal: Aalto.fi website

Digital Accessibility

The general concept of accessibility applies also to the digital Aalto. Digital accessibility ensures the equal participation of everyone in daily Aalto activities.
Student at laptop. Photo by Aalto University / Aino Huovio

On this page

Loading table of contents

Digital Accessibility Guidance

New digital accessibility regulations came into force on September 2018. This regulation implements the EU directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies into Finnish Act on the Provision of Digital Services 306/2019.

Accessible digital content is searchable, convenient, and cost-effective. This page provides publishers with the tools and knowledge needed to enable digital accessibility in a team through cultural change and raising awareness of the importance of inclusion. All Aalto publishers need to address digital accessibility as part of their everyday work. Educate yourself and colleagues – this is down to teamwork. Developers should be using WAI-ARIA techniques to make code accessible to assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to be able to validate that the user experience will be good enough. Accessible Web sites, mobile applications and online documents should be:

  • Perceivable - Available through sight, hearing, or touch
  • Operable - Compatible with keyboard or mouse
  • Understandable - User-friendly, easy to comprehend
  • Robust - Works across browsers, assistive technologies, mobile devices, old devices/browsers, etc. Follows standards.

Providing accessible digital content to Aalto community helps implementing Aalto values of quality, inclusion, and connectivity.

    Digital Accessibility and UNCRPD

    Digital accessibility is not only about technical standards, web architecture, platforms and design. It is an issue of political will and of moral obligation, enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

    Web Accessibility (external link)

    Web accessibility allows everyone, including people with disabilities, to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Internet. The same vision of accessibility needs to apply to mobile applications, considering the developments in technology and trends in the last years.

    Keyboard with the accessibility key

    LexDis: What is a website (external link)

    What is a website and does it meet web accessibility regulations? The new regulations in Europe require each website to have an accessibility statement and, due to the age of the website, sites owned by the same organisation may have a different timeline for complying with the regulations. Source: ECS Accessibility Team (University of Southampton)

    A Website is a coherent collection of one or more related web pages that together provide common use or functionality.

    Digital Service on a Digital Platform (external link)

    A Digital Service is a software service designed to fulfil a product capability and run on a Digital Platform. Such a service might be a monolith, or composed of multiple microservices. It’s owned by a single Digital Service team responsible for understanding its customers, and producing a service that meets their needs.

    Illustration of digital way of working

    The Digital Services Act: ensuring a safe and accountable online environment (external link)

    For the first time a common set of rules on intermediaries' obligations and accountability across the single market will open up new opportunities to provide digital services across borders, while ensuring a high level of protection to all users, no matter where they live in the EU.

    Group of people using smart phones

    The application of the Finnish Act on the Provision of Digital Services in universities (in Finnish)

    Braille keyboard

    Digipalvelulain soveltamisesta yliopistoissa (in Finnish) (external link)

    Available only in Finnish: Tässä artikkelissa tarkastellaan digipalvelulain aiheuttamia muutoksia yliopistojen vastuissa liittyen tuottamiinsa digitaalisten palveluiden saatavuuteen ja saavutettavuuteen. Artikkeli myös avaa keskeiset lakiin liittyvät käsitteet.

    Tim Berners-Lee in front of a blackboard

    The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
    Tim Berners-Lee


    Accessibility guidelines for Web publishers

    Two Aalto methods to improve the accessibility of your website

    1. The very easy way(TM)

    The easiest way to improve your online presence is to migrate to aalto.fi. Contact communications department to learn more and continue by reading only the great news below.

    Aalto.fi 1st in Scandinavia, 3rd in Europe in accessibility

    Aalto.fi tutorials for site structure and articles

    The new aalto.fi digital communications platform will be simpler than before and contain the different platforms – Inside, Into, Saha, Research & Art, People and more – in the same environment. An article page can be used to present any type of information or content.

    Aalto.fi site structure

    This page will help you get to know the aalto.fi platform and its features.

    Tutorial graphic 1

    How to create and edit an article page at aalto.fi

    An article page can be used to present any type of information or content. The topic can be, for example, collaboration options, a certain research area or architecture in Otaniemi. Here's how to do that.

    title graphic - how to create an article page

    General writing guidelines for articles in English

    How to write and edit English-language press releases and news.

    Kuvituskuva näppäimistöstä. Kuvittaja: Ida-Maria Wikström.

    IT Help

    Here you can find instructions related to IT Services and current news.

    aalto it help en
    Read more

    2. The other way for Accessible Web Service

    The other way is to study basics of the Web accessibility below.

    Write and add the accessibility statement for your web site

    Reviewing your accessibility statement is an opportunity to check ‘usability’. The accessibility statement is not merely a list of compliance criteria – which in itself is not very helpful. Many assistive technology users have to navigate the entire page before they can even find the statement. A good statement will add value for diverse users by giving them practical advice on how to improve their experience with web browser features or add-ons, or by explaining how to turn on the captions for videos. Thus, the accessibility statement can become a resource for students, partners and employees rather than purely a legal document.

    Accessibility Regulations Timelines by Web Service Type

    All university websites and mobile applications must be accessible by 23 September 2020 and 23 June 2021 respectively.

    Speech Recognizer Board, professor Teuvo Kohonen, 1980

    Accessible Websites, Web pages, VLEs and Social Media

    Digital services for teaching

    The Teacher Services team develops digital services for teaching and learning and provides support for their use. The team is part of the Learning Services.

    Looking at course information on MyCourses

    #timetolevelup for students

    Time to level up campaign guides students through amazing tools for smooth studying experience.

    Students in front of School of Business

    University of Helsinki: Accessibility of teaching (external link)

    Accessibility guidelines by University of Helsinki including instructions for courses.

    University of Helsinki

    WordPress Accessibility (external link)

    The WordPress community and the open source WordPress project is committed to being as inclusive and accessible as possible. WordPress aims to make the WordPress Admin and bundled themes fully WCAG 2.0 AA compliant where possible.

    WordPress logo
    A laptop screen with an article titled Microsoft accessibility features

    Microsoft accessibility (external link)

    With more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, Microsoft believes that accessibility is essential to delivering on our mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” However, our mission doesn’t begin and end with the products we create and the services we offer. It extends to the culture of our workplace and weaving accessibility into the fabric of our company—from hiring people with disabilities, to creating inclusive marketing, and awarding our Accessibility in Action digital badge.

    Report by WWW.POLICYCONNECT.ORG.UK, Accessible Virtual Learning Environments

    The report’s recommendations are aimed at doing much more than simply achieving compliance with the EU Web accessibility regulations. They set out how the requirements can be met in such a way as to improve learning and education for all students whether disabled or not.

    Cover of the report Accessible Virtual Learning Environments

    Accessible Virtual Learning Environments - Making the most of the new regulations (external link)

    This report has been produced in advance of the new digital accessibility regulations becoming law in September 2018, to help the Government and FE/HE providers put in place the necessary guidance and practical provisions to turn the regulations into reality.

    Accessible documents

    • Publish always as an HTML webpage if possible; It’s the best way to reach as many users as possible. If you do need to publish a document, it should be in addition to an HTML version.
    • Documents like PDFs make your content harder to find, use and maintain. It can be difficult for users to customise them for ease of reading, and they might not work well with assistive technologies like screen readers.

    Accessible documents (Celia) and ReadSpeaker

    Aalto University has a campus licence for ReadSpeaker text to speech.

    Accessibility of files (external link)

    Practical instructions (in Finnish) how documents can be made accessible.

    Book shelves in the library full of books

    ReadSpeaker: Text To Speech Online (external link)

    Add speech to your website & apps to make your content available to a larger audience.

    Text to speech icon

    Validate your code: The W3C Markup Validation Service

    This validator checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc. Although automated testing is easy and free with the W3C validation service or WAVE, it is not sufficient; it can only auto-check about 30% of the accessibility issues. Hence, teams should not rely on these validation tools alone and proper user testing is essential to verify the accessibility of the Website.

    The W3C Markup Validation Service (external link)

    This validator checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc.

    Two persons by a laptop next to icons of senses

    Video Introduction to Web Accessibility and W3C Standards (external link)

    You may use this video if you include a link to this page. More information is available in Using WAI Material: Permission to Use with Attribution.

    W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

    Guidelines for social media and improved content

    These Aalto and Princeton guidelines are intended to help University staff, faculty, and students create accessible social media content.

    Princeton University Social Media Accessibility Guidelines (external link)

    These guidelines are intended to help University staff, faculty, and students create social media content that is accessible to people with disabilities.

    Princeton University digital accessibility shield

    Accessibility regulations deadlines for websites and videos

    New university websites

    • New university websites created on or after 23 September 2018, must meet accessibility standards and must publish an accessibility statement by 23 September 2019.
    • Review and update your statement regularly.

    Existing websites and videos

    • Most existing websites that were published before 23 September 2018 need to comply with the accessibility regulations by 23rd September 2020.
    • Note, that intranets and extranets need to comply from when there are significant changes to them.
    • Pre-recorded video or audio content published on or after the 23rd of September 2020 must be accessible.
    Accessibility Regulations Timelines by Web Service Type

    Digital accessibility requirements (in Finnish and Swedish)

    Detailed information by ESAVI in Finnish and Swedish about the Web accessibility regulations and transition times

    Digital accessibility requirements (in Finnish) (external link)

    The EU directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies implemented into Finnish law.

    Saavutettavuusvaatimusten siirtymäajat

    Let's make accessible digital services (external link)

    Your service must be accessible to everyone who needs it. You may be breaking the law if you do not make it accessible. Start by thinking how Aalto users might access and use your service before you design or build anything. A short summary in Finnish.

    Tabletin näytöllä teksti Tehdään digipalveluista saavutettavat
    Verkkosivuilla julkaistavissa uusissa videoissa tulee olla tekstitys

    Captions for Panopto videos (external link)

    Instructions on how to create and edit captions in Panopto.

    A screen capture of video with captions

    Hybrid way of teaching and working

    In the future, it is desired to invest even more in a hybrid model that utilizes both contact and remote learning. 

    Collaboration tools (sharepoint.com)

    Hybrid teaching in Aalto University - OPIT - Aalto University Wiki

    Tools on red

    Collaboration tools for hybrid way of working (external link)

    Collection of digital collaboration tools for Aalto community

    Comparison of collaboration tools

    Collaboration tools enable collaboration and data sharing within groups, as well as publishing data to internet. All the services mentioned below can be accessed with Aalto username and password


    Ways to keep your digital skills updated

    Promote your digital skills via formal training and by getting inspiration from your co-workers and everyone in the Aalto community.


    Digital Accessibility Guidance by other Universities

    Excellent resources to understand digital accessibility regulations that came into force on September 2018. Comparative with the Finnish ESAVI guidance. Benchmark Glasgow and Harvard guidelines and resources to make your content accessible.

    The University of Glasgow official logo consists of the coat of arms and the University of Glasgow logotype

    Digital Accessibility Guidance by the University of Glasgow (external link)

    Digital accessibility regulations came into force on September 2018. This regulation implements the EU directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies into UK law.

    Harvard students with laptops sit together in a classroom

    Harvard University digital accessibility (external link)

    Harvard is committed to making its digital information and resources more easily available to everyone

    Aalto Space for students, staff and partners

    Aalto Space applikaatio Kuva: Hannes Huotari

    Aalto Space mobile application

    Aalto Space allows you to book conference and group work facilities and helps you navigate the campus.


    Digital Aalto

    Digital Aalto is a university-level strategic initiative and you are invited to join us on our journey towards a digital future.

    Harald Herlin Learning Centre aula

    Digital Aalto

    We have a very ambitious goal: within the next five years we are going to be a leading European university regarding digitalisation research and practice.

    Six students give a high five

    Higher Education Institutes’ Digivision 2030 (external link)

    National learning data reserves for use by individuals and society. Finland is a model country for flexible learning in 2030. Learners are provided with data on their own learning in a secure manner. This enables and supports their learning throughout their lives.

    Accessible Aalto

    A happy student slides downhill a snowbank

    Accessible Aalto

    Aalto University strives towards being an accessible, safe and healthy university where research, teaching and services are accessible for all.

    Aalto University
    • Published:
    • Updated:
    URL copied!