Monthly Archives: September 2008

Week 3 Activity 1.3 Lancaster Universities policy on accessibility or inclusive teaching

The three main legislation’s that effect accessibility in FE colleges in the UK are the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (1995), the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) (2001) and the Disability Equality Duty (DED) (2006).The DED requires FE and HE institutions to have a Disability Equality Scheme (DES) which as been written with involvement by disabled people.  Disability issies are also covered as part of the governments Equality Bill

 

Lancaster University has a Disability Equality Scheme  as a requirement of the DED (2006).  It also has a disability policy which is part of a wider range of policies relating to equality.  The university also has a policy for writing accessible websites requiring websites to meet standards set by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines.

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wk 3 activity 1.1 Disability legislation

I have answered the following questions in relation to Further Education (FE) Colleges in the UK.

Has the introduction of standards, guidelines and legislation led to a significant improvement in accessibility?
The three main legislation’s that effect accessibility in FE colleges in the UK are the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (1995), the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) (2001) and the Disability Equality Duty (DED) (2006).The DED requires FE and HE institutions to have a Disability Equality Scheme (DES) which as been written with involvement by disabled people.  In my experience these pieces of legislation are slowly having an effect in a relatively small number of colleges.  There are exceptional colleges which are being anticipatory by ensuring accessibility resources such as screen readers are available to all rather than on request, however for the majority accessibility is an issue to be dealt with only when a disabled learner is identified.

What problems are caused by imprecise terms in legislation?
I have had experience of two extreme views arising from the phrase “Required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if a disabled person would otherwise be placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage”.  In one case a network manager refused to allow any multimedia content onto the college network as he felt it would place a disabled student at a “substantial disadvantage”, he would not consider the option of allowing additional transcripts or additional, accessible alternatives.  The other example is an individual who felt there was no need to transcribe multimedia content, as this went beyond “reasonable adjustments”

Does the legislation bring any benefits and are they more beneficial for disabled students or teaching institutions?
Although there are allot of problems with the definitions and exact details of these legislation’s, I will be optimistic and say they are beneficial to disabled students, teaching institutions and non disabled students.  The legislation gives institutions direction in how they should be making education accessible.  The lack ofprecise definitions means this direction is not as clear as it could be, however legislation which instruct institutions to be anticipatory should improve accessibility for all.

Has the UK ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

The UK has not yet ratified the Convention although the office for Disability Issues website (http://www.officefordisability.gov.uk/working/unfaqsdetails.asp#q6) specifies that that Anne McGuire,Minister for Disabled People, aims to have this completed by the end of 2008.  The reason for the delay was given as follows:

“The UK will ratify when we are sure our laws, policies, practices and procedures are compatible with the convention’s obligations either as they stand or as modified (so far as is possible) by any reservations which the UK makes.”


What common factor or factors are identified as hindering progress according to “Moving legislation into action: the examples of India & South Africa “?

A lack of awareness of legislation by disabled people and government departments.
Disabled people are not represented by individuals in Parliament or by policy making bodies
Accessibility issues treated as separate welfare issues and not embedded into all national policies

Do you think that there are specific issues relating to disability and accessibility that are different from those arising with regard to other aspects of equality and human rights, such as racial discrimination?

Although disability and accessibility equality shares attitudinal barriers with other forms of equality, they also face specificphysical barriers and therefore require a wider range of practical resolutions as well as attitudinal.

Wk 2 Activity 1.1 Activities that might be challenging for students who have disabilities

My job involves informing staff from colleges and sixth forms about a range of elearning issues and resources.  This includes often includes face to face training in various computer rooms which we hire out, as well as online materials and training.   The following list highlights some of the activities related to face to face and online training, which may be challenging for learners who have disabilities.  As the training i’m involved with usually requires computer use, most of these activities which are challenging for online training, are also challenging for face to face training.

Activity
Online or Face to Face
Impairment
Using screen readers which are unable to
make sense of images and website components
Online and face to face
Visual impairment, Dyslexia
Using a computer desk in training rooms not set up for wheelchair users
Face to Face
Physically impaired
Listening to podcasts
Online and Face to Face
Hearing impaired
Using a computer in a training room which is not set up with accessible features, and doesn’t allow the instillation of these features.
Face to Face
learners with visual impairments & dyslexic learners who use screen readers, learners with physical impairments who require on screen accessible keyboards.
Trying to deceiver a crowded and over complex website
Online
visual, cognitive, or motor disabilities
Keeping up with a synchronous chat room
Online
Any impairment that makes it difficult to use a computer at high speed

H810 – 2.4 Defining accessibility

Accessibility is the process of removing barriers and restrictions in order to make something more avalable

Everyone has a responcibility for accessibility, particularly those or design and develop something which people will require access to including buildings, equipment, printed materials and online content.

In an educational context accessibility refers to making education available to everyone and removing barriers through building design, and creating education that suits the needs of different learning styles and impairments.

On-line learning creates a range of specific accessibility solutions and barriers for education.

The driving forces for accessibility in the UK include legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), as well as financial and moral reasons.

H810 – 2.2 What is accessibility?

 

Some questions and answers about my own story based on” E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education” (Seale, 2006)

 

My Perspective
I don’t have a personal perspective of having a disability or impairment, and during my time as a trainer I didn’t have any learners who where identified to me as having any impairment.  However I have always tried to ensure resources are accessible for all.

 

Events, people or objects that have influenced my current perspective regarding accessibility
My knowledge and understanding with regards to accessibility issues is primarily based on my own research, as part of my PGCE and information I have acquired while working for JISC.  My friend and colleague is an elearning advisor for accessibility and inclusion.  She has helped me understand what resources are available, and the accessible benefits of non-specialized software and hardware.

 

Consciousness of accessibility issues
Some of these issues are now second nature, such as what font I use, and it’s implications. This is partly down to my colleagues constant reminding. Other features I am less aware of.

 

Cost benefit analysis of being on this course.

The only significant cost I can see at the moment, is time, and the commitment of time.  In contrast the main benefits include knowledge, interest, experience as an online learner, being part of a community of learners and the hope that this will lead to a qualification.

 

My last significant course was a PGCE which I completed part time over 2 year via face to face lecturer. These lectures were one evening a week.  As people had come straight from work, with no time to eat, many people where tired, hungry and grumpy.  This did not make for a good learning environment.  For this reason  wanted my next major course to be completely online.

 

Imagery of accessibility.

I would use the metaphor of designing a building.  You could design a beautiful building and then make it accessible by adding on features such as accessible ramps  and doors.  These could be expensive and ugly add ons.   The alternative is to ensure that the from the start, accessible feature, that everyone can use, are incorporated into the overall design.

 

Expectations of a conference about accessibility in online learning.

I would like to hear the views of disabled learners, to find out what features of online learning they find challenging and why.    I would also like to have a discussion with accessibly experts such as TechDis, commercial content creation companies and educational technologists about how technology can be used to benefit online learning for disabled learners.

 

Declaration of disabilities.

Learners may not want to declare a disability because they might not think it’s relevant, they may not consider themselves to be disabled or they might not want to be labeled as being different.  

 

There are reasons for and against a learning provider knowing knowing the exact number of

 disabled students registered on its courses and the exact nature of their learning needs.  I don’t think there is any reason for a learning provider to know of any impairment that has no impact on their learning or experience with the learning provider.

 

It could be argued that a learning provider should not be required to know exact details about  disabled learners because all courses should include such a range of accessible materials, that a specific learning need should be met without request.  However if a course only uses materials that are accessible to everyone,  this rules out the use of features which are of great benefit to some but not to others, such as discussion forums and synchronous chat rooms.

 

Disclosure of information

When you meet someone face to face people assume aspects of your identity from your appearance and accent, such as gender, visible impairments, race, age and where you are from.  This is not the case when you interact with people online.   In addition to this you may want to disclose information you are comfortable in sharing as it comes up in conversation such as name, job role, limited information on your home life and experiences.  There are also personal details you may not want to share until you know the person better, if at all.  These include physical/mental impairment, sexuality, religion, financial status, personal history.   The information someone is happy to disclose varies between individuals.  I am not going to disclose information that I want to keep private.

H810 -1.3 How does my situation relate to accessibility?

Hi, I’m an eLearning adviser for the JISC Regional Support Centre (RSC) in North West England. My job involves working with Further Education (FE) and sixth form colleges, advising, supporting and promoting the use of eLearning. This involves discovering and sharing best practice, developing forums,encouraging collaboration, promoting funding available and advising on a range of topics. I don’t have any direct contact with learners within this role, however I was previously an IT Trainer for the NHS, which involved working with learners directly as well as developing online materials. The reason why I have decided to start my MAODE with this course is because I think it will provide allot of practical knowladge in making education more accessible, not only for learners with disabilities, but for all. As this is my first OU course I am unsure quite what to expect, however I am looking forward to working with and learning from others on the course.