Accessible Committee Papers and Committee Management Network

As the University is working to improve its accessibility on the web and within its digital services, it is important that committee managers, secretaries and report authors take into account the accessibility provisions required by committee members and attendees when preparing committee papers.


In addition to the wide array of accessible document templates now found on the University’s Staff Directory, the Governance Office has recently released an accessible cover sheet and report template (.docx), which may be found on the Committee Portal. The new template is in keeping with accessibility guidelines, and features:

  • consistent use of the ‘Arial’ font in size 12
  • 1.5 spacing between lines of text
  • paragraph numbering
  • example bullet points and a formatted table
  • page numbering, which indicates the start of the report, rather than being continuous from the start of the cover sheet

We’re asking all paper authors to use the new template with immediate effect, and we’re encouraging everyone to use the ‘check accessibility’ function in Word, found under the ‘Review’ tab, which provides further tips and instructions on making your documents more accessible. In addition to improving accessibility, we hope that this will reduce the time committee secretaries spend reformatting reports prior to circulation.

Electronic meeting papers

Since 2019-20, electronic meeting papers have been issued as standard for all University committees. This has allowed us to reduce our impact on the environment and improve information security; it has also enabled colleagues to make documents more accessible, in accordance with their individual needs, by magnifying or reducing the size of text, changing the background colour of documents, or using ‘Read out loud’ software. All of this functionality comes as standard in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, which can be downloaded for free by University students and staff, via the Essex Software Hub.

Further accessibility information

More information on accessibility, accessible committee papers, and how you can support committee members that require reports in alternative formats, will be provided at the 10 December meeting of Committee Management Network, which is open to any staff who manage or are involved in the management of committees and the circulation of committee papers. You can book your place now, by logging into HR Organiser. We hope to see you there!

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