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RLO: Accessibility

The importance of creating an accessible reading list

All students will benefit from structured reading lists which indicate essential reading however this can be particularly important for disabled students, for example those with a print impairment who find reading time consuming or who may require alternative format reading materials to be produced.

- Disabled Student Support, Sheffield Hallam University


It is important to consider how you can make lists accessible for all students. For example, the following approaches are all very effective:

Include online resources

  • More students can access these where and when it suits them, for example off-campus.
  • Students can also use specialist reading software to access these resources if they require it. 
  • ALL essential material needs to be available as an electronic format to avoid student frustration and anxiety, If something is not available electronically we will contact the academic to explore alternatives.

Use a range of formats

  • selecting a range of formats to appeal to different study preferences

Provide clear sign-posting and navigation

  • Giving guidance on what is essential and what is further reading allows students to prioritise their reading. 
  • Use sections to help structure reading by theme or week.

Learning contracts and reasonable adjustments

  • Ensure you know how to make reasonable adjustments for students with learning contracts and know what support is available to students that require support accessing your resource selection.
  • Learning contracts- further information for staff on learning contracts. 

Make sure your list is published before teaching begins

  • This gives students as much time as possible to begin engaging with your lists and get any additional support in place as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you send the list to review. You will be giving the library more time to digitise any required chapters or purchase resources in advance of the students needing access!

Take a look at this example of a reading list based on best practice 

Accessibility and technology

The Talis reading list product is called Talis Aspire and is known as Reading List Online at Hallam. This link will take you to the Talis Web Accessibility Statement, and also provides information on the accessibility features of this platform.

There are services and tools available throughout Hallam which enables staff and students in making online content more accessible and accessing online content.

The Assistive Technology service promotes and provides training on the assistive software available on AppsAnywhere. Sessions will provide you with a variety of tools to support notetaking, lecture recording, time management, organisation, essay structuring, research skills and revision.

Sensus Access allows you to convert documents into a range of alternative formats including audio books (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3 and Mobi) and digital Braille.

The service can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files, JPG pictures and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into more accessible formats which are compatible with assistive technology.

The Digital Capability, Skills and Support pages have been curated by a range of stakeholders from across both academic and professional services teams to provide you with guidance, information and resources to support digital capability and provide you with the skills and support to delivering inclusive and accessible digital content.

This resource is maintained by the Academic Development & Diversity Team

Digitisation and accessibility

The digitisation service can create digitised readings of chapters and articles which are not available electronically (licences and copyright law permitting). You can request a digitised chapter or journal article using our online request form.

Online Digitisation Request Form

There are accessibility benefits to creating digitised readings instead of directing students to print copies. The digitisation team will create an OCR (optical character recognition) scan of the print copy, which creates an accessible PDF. The PDF is then accessed using the Kortext e-reader. This link will take you to the Kortext accessibility commitment statement, and also the accessibility features of the e-reader along with navigation guidance.

Support from Library Services and beyond

For more information on how Library Services supports disabled library users:

Further information

Light BulbIf you would like further information about accessibility and how it can play a role in creating inclusive reading lists, below are a selection of articles about digital inclusion.

Kwak, A., & Newman, J. (2018). An accessibility-first approach to online course readers. Reference Services Review, 46(3), 340-349, DOI: 10.1108/RSR-04-2018-0046

Wendy Mears & Helen Clough (2015) Online library accessibility support: a case study within the Open University Library, Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 30:1, 73-85, DOI: 10.1080/02680513.2015.1025735

Wondwossen M. Beyene (2018) Digital Inclusion in Library Context: A Perspective from Users with Print Disability, Journal of Web Librarianship, 12:2, 121-140, DOI: 10.1080/19322909.2018.1427657


We also recommend the Digital Accessibility training module, which will guide you through the SCULPT method. SCULPT came out of research conducted within Worcestershire County Council. It will guide you through the basics of awareness and skills to become inclusive digital practitioners when creating documents and content.