accessibility is not enough

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ICIITS 2014 keynote, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey Professor Jane Seale


  • 1. Accessibility is not enough: Anexamination of the role universitiesplay in using technologies topromote the inclusion of disabledstudentsProfessor Jane SealeICITS 2014 Keynote, September 18th

2. This talk is about: 3. Why? A demographic issue The number of people in any nationalpopulation that are disabled is rising. Forexample in the UK, 17% of population aredisabled Linked to this, the numbers of disabledstudents in universities are rising- even inTurkey (Recent figures from YOK (HigherEducation Council of Turkey) suggest thatthere are 59,165 disabled students, upfrom a figure of around 15,000 A social justice issue: The intellectual and academic potentialof universities is not restricted to thenon-disabled population It is not just or equitable to denyintelligent disabled people access touniversity and successful learning byfailing to use appropriate availableresources such as technologies 4. Id like to take you on a journeyAccessibilityDigital Inclusion 5. My argument: Accessibility is just the tip ofthe iceberg Using technologies to facilitateaccess to and participation inhigher education for disabledstudents is as much about what wedo (practice) as what we provide(access and accessibility)Accessibility 6. Who am I? 7. In the beginning Around the beginning of the millennium muchof the focus relating to e-learning, disabilityand universities was on accessibility ofuniversity websites (home pages, librarypages) Drivers Disability discrimination legislation Web Accessibility Guidelines and Standards WC3 8. The message Universities must make their websitesaccessible It is easy, just use the guidelines Get on and do it.. 9. Have universities listened to themessage?Reference Focus OutcomeWijayaratne, 2008;Wijayaratne, & Singh2010Home page and library pageof 31 members of AsianAssociation of OpenUniversities in 2008 and 30in 2010In 2008 (10/31) 6 university home pages and4 library home pages were free from errors.In 2010 just 4 home pages and 2 librarypages were free of accessibility errors (6/31)Thompson et al. 2010 127 homes pages of USuniversities were tested overa five period: once in 2004-5 and once in 2009Significant positive gains in accessibilitywere revealed on some measures butdeclined in others, Improvements were madefor issues that were basic and easy toimplement. There was a decline in keyboardaccessibility.Kurt 2011 Home pages of 10/77established public andprivate Turkish universitiesAll university pages show some accessibilityproblems. Kurt concluded: Many studiesexamine the accessibility levels of webpages, yet little research has been done toestablish why accessibility levels are low.Further studies should examine this issue. 10. The message was oversimplified1. For disabled students access is not just aboutaccess to university home pages2. Did not pay attention to all of the stakeholderswho contribute to accessibility practice3. No rich descriptions of best accessibilitypractice or the factors that influence thispractice4. Ignored the complex relationship that disabledstudents have with their technologies and theiruniversities 11. 1. For disabled students, access is notjust about access to university homepages University portals and related websites VLES (Blackboard); MOOCS Online library databases General computer generated documents:handouts, slides (e.g. ppts and pdfs) Computer applications used within a subjectdisciplines- simulations, programming tools Communication tools and social networking tools Specialised access or assistive technologies 12. Example If certain things arent designed in a way which isfriendly towards my screen reader, if I struggle tonavigate pages of notes or what have you, then I findI just give up. (David, LEXDIS Participant) I really like Blackboard, but I think that there is anawful lot on there, and it could be made a lot easierto use. The navigation is difficult. My lecturer mightsay: Weve put up this, on this subject, and then Iwont know which section its in. Id have to go intoeach section and open each document section tofind it. (Stacey, LEXDIS Participant) My lecturer uses a lot of scanning from Adobe whichobviously makes it even smaller because thenyouve got 2 pages on 1. He puts the materials onBlackboard, which is great, but then theyre reallyreally small so to print them off is impossible. (Kate,LEXDIS Participant)Seale et al. 2008 13. 2. Did not pay attention to all of thestakeholders who contribute toaccessibility practiceSeale (2006) Rainbow= gkkua Bridge= kpr 14. Who? Senior Managers- Offer leadership,facilitate joined up thinking, work toembed accessibility across the institutionfrom procurement to support Staff and educational developers-linkinstitutional agendas to departmental andindividual agendas 15. Who? Student support services- when assessingstudent needs they need to be aware of howcourses are using e-learning so that they canmake appropriate, informed recommendations; Learning Technologists (e.g. ComputingServices)- how we can support distance learnersat home and how can this support be alignedto the support we offer on campus, so that e-learningexperience is seamless for students? 16. Who? Lecturers: We need to understand how theyconceptualise course design, their ideas abouteffective teaching and learning (e-learning) andtheir beliefs about appropriate student supportin order to understand whether and howaccessible e-learning can, or needs to be, part oftheir practice Students: Student are the experts on what theirlearning needs are BUT we are not necessarilygood at listening to those needs or valuing theskills and experiences that student bring withthem 17. An example Assistive Technology Centre: in the centrallibrary; managed by a senior librarian, staffed bytwo unqualified but dedicated assistivetechnologists Disabled students could be referred by StudentServices or could just drop in to use theaccessible workstations and specialisedassistive technologies 18. An example Workstations in the ATC frequently hadcompatibility problems with centralnetwork- specialised software causedsystem conflicts Computing services refused to contributeto, or take responsibility for the funding ofnew workstations and specialistequipment Manager of the ATC complained thatpeople in the university were unaware ofthe services they offer 19. 3. No rich descriptions of bestaccessibility practice or the factorsthat influence this practice Practitioners know that they should be makinge-learning accessible to disabled students,BUT they do not know how to make e-learningaccessible. (Seale, 2006) Missing Voices: there is very little literaturewhere university practitioners conceptualise,describe, evaluate or discuss accessibilitypractices (Seale, 2014) 20. What do we need rich descriptions of? Detailed accounts of how practitioners inuniversities have interpreted accessibility relatedrules, tools, approaches and procedures and the'personal and collective meanings that havedeveloped from these interpretations We also need accounts of the stakeholderresponses to the mediators and drivers ofaccessibility How stakeholders have developed strategic and effectiverelationships with one another 21. Influences on practice A number of factors will influence or mediatepractice, in particular stakeholder views of: Disability Accessibility Integration (inclusion) & Segregation Teams and communities Autonomy and compliance These factors are often expressed in thehistories and agendas of stakeholders and theservices/departments in which they practise 22. Histories and agendas: an example The way that services are delivered may or maynot reflect attitudes and beliefs concerningdisability and accessibility Disabled students are problems to be solved Disability requires special accessibility solutions, byspecial services, staffed by specialist staff But they will influence attempts to developaccessibility practices at an institutional level 23. A proposed modelto help framethinkingSeale (2006) Thecontextualisedmodel ofaccessibilitypractice 24. 4. Ignored the complex relationship thatdisabled students have with theirtechnologies and their universities Disabled students: Are digitally agile (competent and confident users) Use a wide range of generic and specialisttechnologies Adopt a wide range of strategies for usingtechnologies to support their learning Hold a wide range of personal beliefs about the valueof technology and how they might use them in waysthat are personally acceptable or meaningful Have access to a range of cultural and social resourcesthat support technology use (before and duringuniversity)(Seale et al. 2008, 2010; Seale, 2012; Seale et al. 2014) 25. 4. Ignored the complex relationship thatdisabled students have with theirtechnologies and their universities Despite this, they can: Make decisions to abandon technologies(particularly assistive technologies) Rely heavily on formal training for help usingspecialist technologies But find it difficult to engage with the training due totime pressures(Seale et al. 2008, 2010; Seale, 2012; Seale et al. 2014) 26. Example: Beliefs about technologystigmatising disabled studentsNick: I wouldn't use voice dictation software in public. I'd feel toself-conscious.Reena: I have to say that if Id got that technology, I would use itat home. I wouldnt use it in the lab. []But with technology, Istill think theres a stigma to it. If I did have assistivetechnology I would use it on my home computer. Theres noway I would use a lot of it in the lab because I wouldnt wantthat stigma on me like that thing which is bad, but its howpeople are. 27. Example: using technologies in waysthat are personally meaningful 28. Example: cultural resources Before university: 43% of the students were encouragedto undertake a formal generic ICT qualification For those who undertook a formal generic ICTqualification 63.4% said the knowledge gained had nothelped in their c