September 18 at 08:00
Deaf students applying to university now have additional support from UCAS, with seven new videos available in British Sign Language (BSL).
Key parts of the UCAS process are explained in a series of videos, signed for deaf students in BSL – the most popular sign language in the UK.
The videos are embedded on relevant pages of the recently re-launched UCAS website. All seven videos can also be viewed as a playlist in the 'Individual needs' section of the site and also on the UCAStv website.
UCAS introduced the videos following a request from the Deaf Education Advocacy Fellowship (DEAF). Several students contacted the fellowship, asking for help with their university applications. One suggestion was to make a series of signed videos, guiding students through the applications process and also highlighting where to go for support before and during their time at university.
Beth Hayes, Digital Media Manager at UCAS, said: "'British Sign Language is different from spoken English, so even though we had subtitles on all our videos, these were not suitable for students whose first language was BSL.
“We worked closed with DEAF to choose the most relevant videos and make sure they would help deaf students to understand how to apply and where to get support.”
Esmail Patel, Chief Executive Officer at DEAF, said: 'DEAF are very proud and honoured to be working in partnership with UCAS to make a difference to the lives of Deaf Learners to help and encourage the community to have confidence when applying to the University'.
Each video covers an individual part of the UCAS process including information for students with disabilities, how to apply, choosing a course, open days, personal statements, requesting a reference and a guide for parents. The videos can also be embedded within existing websites; simply click on ‘Embed video’ link underneath each video on UCAStv to get the code.
UCAS is also working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to improve online accessibility on UCAS.com.
Following a recent audit of the website, UCAS is implementing several recommendations, with the aim is of making the site W3C AA compliant. These include improvements to the keyboard navigation of the site and ensuring UCAS.com is fully accessible to anyone accessing content using a screen reader.