How accessible are my courses?

Since I started on the OU course on accessible technology I have oscillated from thinking the courses I teach are not particularly accessible to disabled learners to feeling that in fact they have lots of features which do give learners quite a few options for how they access the courses.

What have I learned so far?

  • it’s ok to refer to ‘disabled learners’. I’ve read lots about appropriate terminology, some of it contradictory. There will always be some people offended by particular terminology whenever we are talking about sensitive issues which society is just learning to address.
  • colleges and universities make lots of general statements of their commitment to helping disabled learners access their courses…
  • ….but can be quite hard for a student or teacher to access specific support
  • disabled H.E. students can get funding given to them personally for acquiring resources to help them access their course..
  • …but in F.E. the funding seems to go to the college
  • and in both H.E. and F.E. the support does not seem to be very coordinated between the different stakeholders (student, tutor, additional support staff, IT staff with accessibility responsibility, Library staff, pastoral staff….)
  • in other words, there is lots of commitment to equality of opportunity for disabled students in policy statements but the process of making the learning environment more accessible to students is harder to identify
  • there is a bewildering range of assistive technologies such as¬†alternative input devices, braille embossers and refreshable braille displays, keyboard filters, on-screen keyboards, reading tools such as screen readers and screen enlargers, to mention just a few.
  • it seems to me that as a teacher is that I need as much advance notice if I need to get clued up about any of these technologies
  • As a first step, I want to get beyond the bland by including something along the following lines in the marketing for my coursesIs there anything about the eAward materials or the way in which we deliver the course which is a problem for you?
    Are there any adjustments we could make to the materials or the delivery style which would help you learn more successfully?
    Have we inadvertently made anything harder than it needs to be for you?Please contact the course tutor John Baglow if you would like to discuss what can be done to give you more effective access to the eAward.

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