Julia Taylor on Having an inclusive ‘Vision’ for ILT
Widening participation is crucial to business development and therefore essential when considering your ILT strategy. Technology can play a significant role in reducing the cost of widening access. Your organisations ILT strategy should reflect how inclusive practice is becoming key to improving student satisfaction, retention and achievement, and reflect how it is central to demonstrating good practice for inspection and compliance. Make this explicit in the Vision.
What will it provide for learner, staff and partners
Inclusive Organisations foster a culture of learner involvement, they have well trained staff, and effective assessment processes with responsive IT systems. So taking a strategic approach to improving inclusive planning and implementation is also a good way to improve cost efficiency, support quality assurance and to avoid risk to reputation. (Leading by example- embedding accessibility in strategy and policy)
Your online delivery should be as accessible as possible, not only to enable better access for those learners with disabilities and others protected under the Equality Act but also because it will allow you to reach learners who would not otherwise participate or stay in learning. Online courses can provide opportunities for those who are not in education, employment or training to take their first steps towards achievement. Technology has a key role in supporting learners to study independently.
Embedding inclusion in strategy
We recommend that accessibility concerns are included in all key policies and procedures and that usability criteria are addressed early in the procurement process. Policy can be used to implement inclusive practices in all aspects of provision, from marketing and recruitment through to Teaching, Learning & Assessment.
We recommend that mechanisms are provided for all students, including those with disabilities, to voice their needs and that this directly links to visible changes in practice and delivery across the organisation. Inclusive statements should feature in the Quality process and therefore impact on curriculum design, staff development and all internal procedures.
Learners, learning and the curriculum
To support the widest participation you must reflect accessibility in all key policies and strategies – then staff know what is valued and expected and they will plan accordingly. Students will know what they are entitled to. Involving learners is crucial to understanding their needs and expectations.
We recommend that the use of assistive technology and productivity tools should be actively encouraged, promoted and implemented across the network for everyone to use. Learners and staff should be formally made aware of the support available at induction.
We also recommend that a diverse group of learners is involved in all planning groups that develop the digital environment so their needs are addressed at an early stage. Universal Design for Learning principles encourage a flexible approach to curriculum design and delivery and the use of technology.
Technology that learners are already using to support themselves could be accommodated if an inclusive approach to learning and assessment is employed. Providing the technology and the skills that support independence will also ensure learners have the digital skills and employability skills that are required in the future.
Staff and ILT
Staff should be encouraged to adopt inclusive practice with incentives and in performance reviews. Many people, both learners and staff, who do not disclose or even consider themselves to have a disability will benefit from an inclusive approach that actively avoids creating unnecessary barriers.
Staff skills should be developed with emphasis put on promoting learner independence with low cost/no cost assistive technology and productivity tools and apps which could be used outside college.
We recommend all learners progress is monitor to ensure there are effective procedures to identify and support learners and staff with specialist access requirements. These procedures should be clearly documented and promoted internally in order to embed them across the college and not left up to support staff alone.
We suggest providing standard document templates to encourage the creation of accessible documents. This will enable everyone to consider the accessibility of the materials they produce and support the production of alternative format versions.
We recommend that staff are enabled to share relevant information to support students. A RARPA process linked to Individual Learning Plans and learning aims should be introduced for all non-accredited programmes. This RARPA toolkit may be useful
We recommend that the widespread use of mobile devices is an aim across the provision. Personal devices, with personalised apps can support independence and differentiation. Rich media and digital diversity encourage engagement for the widest range of learning styles and needs.
We recommend that to ensure equitable access to digital resources, clear content and alternative formats, all staff should be required to make use of easy access staff development resources on the inclusive use of rich media and that it use is supported.
We recommend providing staff development on the inclusive use of the VLE to enable them to upload all course documents in a range of formats that leaners can adapt for themselves.
We recommend that consideration should be given to the impact on the accessibility of all materials, website, promotion, application and induction materials and including all key policies to ensure everyone has access to key information. Getting started with Accessibility and inclusion.