This week, we had overwhelming information on the topic – how we can develop inclusive learning and teaching environments.
First, we need university-wide strategies and disability policies that help staff to understand the Equality Act 2010 or relevant Disability Act requirements and guide staff to realise and change mechanisms to support disabled students. These are two examples of Cornell University and University of Plymouth which show how they have suggested staff to foster inclusive teaching and learning environments. I think the checklist for inclusive teaching (from University of Playmouth) is particularly useful. It should be a part of the baseline (or sometimes called minimum standards) for VLE and relevant learning technologies in supporting online activities. It should guide not only the academic staff but also all support/professional staff.
Second, can technology helps? Yes, but we need to know limits of a technology, policies supporting disabled students, and teaching approaches. For example, the following statement is on a list of suggested good practice of communication in an inclusive way. It shows technology is not the first solution, we need to change our approaches before use a technology.
Notes or slides uploaded to a content management system or virtual learning environment 48 hours before the event.” (section 2.2)
So how about supporting students in different subjects such as STEM, Arts or Architecture? Think about the learners who are with mobility limits, hearing impairment, colour-blinded, or dyslexia, how assistive technology can support them in undertaking reading, assignment, writing, typing, or presenting? Through a few real learner cases, we discussed what should improve, what technologies can be used and what resource formats creators need to generate. My immediate taking includes:
- The E-book Audit 2016 is a useful guide for creating and checking accessible e-book. It was developed by a collaborative project run by JISC and a range of universities. Here is a discussion about this guide.
- PDF format documents are common. So ensure when we create a PDF file, it is PDF/UA compliant. I found the guide to Accessibility of PDFs on the government website is helpful.
- Chats & Accessibility provided by Pennsylvania State University. This demonstrates what elements we need to consider when present chats and diagrams.
- The LexDis website created by the ECS Accessibility Team, University of Southampton provides many helpful guides, including Making scientific content accessible, Free Apps to assist with colour blind issues in a pharmacy lab, with graphs and dissection, Making Your Presentations Accessible, etc.
- Why all designers need to understand color blindness written by Alex Bigman. It’s important for us to understand colour use. Sometimes we want to create fun and interesting content, however we may create barriers for vision impaired people to read.
- If it is a fact as shown in the Disabled architects: Unlocking the potential for practice report (p.19), the Supporting STEM students with dyslexia: A good practice guide for academic staff created by Institute of Physics will be useful for us to get started.
Timely, the latest Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence guide identified 5 risks of adopting a strategic approach to reasonable
adjustments and what possible mitigating actions the HEP can take.
Resources for us to understand inclusive teaching and learning:
- A collection of videos created by educators on MOOC courses for teaching digital accessibility.
- JISC’s guide – Supporting an inclusive learner experience in higher education
- Lecture capture: what can we learn from the research? written by Gabi Witthaus. A full Lecture Capture Literature Review: A review of the literature from 2012 to 2015 is provided.
- Creating Accessible Adobe PDF Files: A Guide for Document Authors
- E-book reading case: Thumbs up for solving non-linear reading needs video by Don Norman
- Supporting Students in STEM with Colour Vision Deficiency created by Institute of Physics
- The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center, University of Washington website
Tools for supporting inclusive teaching and learning:
- Free or low cost assistive technology for everyone provided by Augsburg University
- A wide collection of Apps for academics: mobile web sites & apps provided by MIT libraries
- Productivity tools and assistive technology provided by University of Kent
- A list of Apps listed by the University of Salford, including Questioning/Polling, Flipcharts, Creating Materials and Organising.
- Apps for the deaf and hearing impaired
- 15 Best E-book Reader Apps
- EduApps provides free portable applications for learners with additional needs.
- Visolve – an assistive tool for people with colour blindness