Finding detailed accessibility information for colleges has been very difficult and borderline impossible in the past. In particular, the information that did exist concerned almost exclusively bedrooms and bathrooms but not social spaces, like dining halls, common rooms and libraries.
In 2016, five University of Oxford students with mobility impairments started the Oxford Accessibility Project (OAP): a crowdsourced, student-led initiative to collect and publish detailed accessibility information on all of Oxford’s 44 colleges and permanent private halls. Since 2016, the OAP has seen more than 150 student and staff volunteers fully map more than 20 Oxford colleges.
For the last year, the OAP has been working closely with the Conference of Colleges and the University’s Estates Services team – in particular, New College Warden, Miles Young and the University’s Accessibility Advisor, Benjamin Smith – to institutionalise the College Access Guide.
The OAP College Access Guide launches publicly on 4 November, following the recent launch of a revamped University Access Guide on 14 September. The project team is expecting the Guide to become a helpful resource for a professional College Access Auditor set to join the University later this academic year.
Looking ahead, this is an exciting time for disability inclusion and accessibility at the University of Oxford, with a renewed focus and commitment by the central University and all of the colleges and halls to making Oxford a more accessible place for all.
The OAP is proud to have played its part in this latest milestone as a key student-led initiative pushing for greater accessibility initiatives and resources at the University for the past 3 years.
The Oxford Accessibility Project was funded in the 2018-19 IT Innovation Challenges round.