Creating an Accessible Organisation starts with policy but this must then translate into accessible practice in order to ensure that support for leaners is delivered effectively. Accessible Organisations should have well-designed systems and clearly documented procedures that efficiently identify, monitor and deliver appropriate support to both students and staff with additional needs. Inclusion goes across the whole organisation. This is about Quality Assurance but it touches on every part of delivery. Julia Taylor explains where to start.
The important thing is to recognise and encourage the practices that will actually make a difference to the learner. The 5 concepts below capture the approach that will be required.
Support Digital Diversity
Different media offer different benefits to learners yet much of educational practice is text based. It’s never been easier to create interactive activities with video and audio clips that will enhance understanding for print impaired learners. Make sure staff development policy provides the skills needed to create accessible rich media, like podcasts and captioned videos.
Ensure Content Clarity
Make all information accessible. It is fundamental good practice and good marketing. Provide staff with accessible templates and guidance on structuring documents using headings and styles so they can create more accessible documents with very little effort.
Make our Jisc Role related staff development in basic accessibility practice available online. Then everyone will have the skills and confidence to use available technology for accessibility.
Exploit Available Assets
Your virtual learning environment, e-book collections and interactive whiteboards could be the most inclusive tools in your organisation if your ILT policy and e-learning plans encourage and support differentiated activities.
Encourage teachers to plan flexible lessons and give learners choices. By putting materials on the VLE before a session, they enable learners to make better use of them to support their own learning. Make sure induction sessions (or readily available notes) include how to personalise views, change font sizes or colours or use with text to speech.
Enable Personal Productivity
IT policy should promote the use of free or open source text to speech and mindmapping software and productivity tools and apps. Made freely available across the network, this will benefit many learners, including those with hidden disabilities. Learners can also use these tools at home or in work placements – therefore adding to their employability skills. Find out more about FOSS in our quick guide.
Encouraging Proactive Processes
Policy drives practice so make Equality & Diversity visible in quality processes, procurement and all key policies. As many as 10% of your learners may have a disability so consult disabled learners and user-test before you invest in new technologies. User involvement early in the procurement process will reduce risk and avoid the extra costs of adaptations. So make sure everyone is aware of accessibility criteria before they buy with this checklist.
The Jisc Digital Student Exemplar Case studies in FE show how technology can enhance the experience and support engagement for the widest range of students.