This comes after Accessibility Advisor Ben Smith worked with the Disability Sub-Group of the Conference of Colleges to reach an agreement that the colleges would fund a post in his team to audit the main buildings within each college and permanent private halls. The initiative also received strong support from Matt Pierri, leader of the Oxford Accessibility Project, a student-led website providing crowd-sourced accessibility information.
Janet Higham has now joined the Conservation & Buildings team within Estates Services as an Access Auditor, and will spend the next two years visiting colleges and assessing the features that can help or hinder disabled users, from wheelchair-accessible entrances and hearing induction loops to high-contrast decorative schemes for people with sensory issues and even the scope to accommodate carers.
Making this information available online will be extremely helpful not just for people with disabilities planning to visit a college and wanting to check how far they will be able to use its facilities, but also for disabled prospective students trying to decide which college to apply for. Until now this information has been very hard to come by and many have had to rely on guesswork and informal inquiries in trying to find a college that meets their needs. As part of the project, all the information on the Oxford Accessibility Project site will be incorporated into the Access Guide.
Janet will also be providing feedback to the colleges she visits on how they can improve accessibility, in particular suggesting ways to help disabled users without the need for major construction work.
You can view the Access Guide here.