Category Archives: Teaching

Using technology to support learners with additional needs

The number of disabled students – or students with additional support needs – is rising. There may be many reasons, but the best reason is that we are becoming more aware of the issues. But ‘more aware’ of the problems doesn’t mean more aware of the answers. In this blog, Alistair McNaught gives some advice … Read more

Opt-in? Opt-out? Is this the question?

  Technology often overtakes ethics. Lecture capture is one such example, with powerful (and sometimes controversial) implications for accessibility. Sue Watling, Academic Advisor for Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Hull, muses on the issues in this guest post. Opt-in? Opt-out?  When it comes to institutional policies on the recording of teaching, the answer … Read more

Responding mindfully in the digital world

Hot on the heels of University Mental Health Day which took place on 2nd March 2017, Margaret McKay asked Sandy MacLean Inclusion Advisor at College Development Network  to share some thoughts on the role of mindfulness in our digital world….. Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention. It is the mental faculty of purposefully bringing … Read more

Accessible examinations – adding spokes to the wheel

A missing half million? Half a million dyslexic students may have missed out. According to the 2015 figures for England[1] the overall entry for GCSEs in summer 2015 was 4,916,000. Given the demography of dyslexia we could expect 10% of students benefitting from exam papers in accessible digital format, using inbuilt or third party assistive … Read more

Access and Inclusion Strategy: are you digitally inclusive?

Funding changes in Scottish FE sector prompt Margaret McKay to reflect on the wider opportunities for colleges to embrace digital inclusion in widenening participation… A review of funding to support disabled students in FE colleges in Scotland was undertaken last academic year (2015-2016).  Engaging with a wide range of stakeholder groups, the Scottish Funding Council … Read more

Between a rock and a hard place – making fieldwork accessible to disabled learners

Fieldwork is often the high point of a course but for many learners it is also most challenging, taking them beyond their comfort zones. Stepping up to – and overcoming – the challenges often contributes to the sense of personal achievement the learners gain. This is especially the case with disabled learners. Alistair McNaught explores … Read more

Accessible learning platforms

Many things influence the accessibility of a learning platform. Here, Alistair McNaught gives some pointers to the main issues. And – as we see below – it is not just about technology; the way you use it matters too. This overview looks at four key areas; users, resources, activities and browser choices. Users  Usability of … Read more

Word or PDF? What’s the learner experience likely to be?

A recent question on the Assistive-technology Jisc mail list (https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=ASSISTIVE-TECHNOLOGY) sparked some interesting debate. Alistair McNaught thought the debate was worthwhile enough to summarise as a blog post. In the process he discovered some weird and wonderful things about redeeming inaccessible PDFs… How are PDFs good for accessibility? If a PDF document has been created … Read more

Accessible webinars – making online work for everyone

Online presentations and web-based seminars (webinars) are becoming more mainstream as educational institutions and training providers look for more efficient ways of supporting learners. But how do webinars work for people with disabilities? This blog post by Alistair McNaught looks at how to get the most from webinar opportunities. It is based on guidance developed … Read more

Accessibility in the real world – compromises that count

People are different. Personally, I loathe icons. I am a words person. I hate working with wordless IKEA self-assembly booklets or icon driven tablet and phone screens. Even after 3 months daily use I stare at my Mac screen trying to differentiate between email and word processing symbols because icons are just a jumble of … Read more