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What's going on in there? A look at the brain and thoughts on the mind

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 17:10

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Fig. 1 Intracranial recording for epilepsy.

Robert Ludlow, UCL Institute of Neurology

First the Royal Academy, meeting with the author of 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' Julian Stodd having made the connection on Linkedin a couple of weeks ago, so - read the book, met the author and now we pick over each other's brains - how we learn is a mutual fascination.

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Fig. 2. A doodle of Medusa's severed head in the hand of Perseus

A second viewing of 'Bronzes', this time with a drawing pen and pad of cartridge paper - photography not permitted. I wanted to see if my hand was 'in' or 'off'. Most of my time was spent circling the decapitated body of Medusa.

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Fig. 3. Icarus - far smaller than I imagined (see below for the publicity shot)

On then to the Wellcome Foundation. In this instance I'd taken one snap on the iPad and was approached and politely advised that photography was not allowed.

A guide book for £1 will serve as a suitable aide memoire.

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Fig 4. Aleks Krotoski

Only yesterday I was listening to and enthusing about Aleks Krotoski on 'The Digital Brain' on BBC Radio 4 and blogged about the series so it was with considerable surprise when I overheard her familiar voice and found her at my shoulder about interview the exhibition's curator. I guess therefore that I listened in on part of the content for a future broadcast.

Upstairs I watched an operation to remove a cancerous growth recorded in real-time from the surgeon's point of view, then Project 22 in which a woman photographs everything that she eats as she eats it for one year and one day - age 22.

Once again fascinating.

A selective record of a year. Can a record of an entire be undertaken with some degree of necessary selection? Or could a software algorithm sort it all out for you if a memory enhancing device records everything that you do and experience.

Other than the £1 guide, unusually, I have not come away with bags of books though I would recommend the Blackwells bookstore at the Wellcome Foundation for bizarre stocking fillers - I Liked the 'blood bath' - blood-like bathsalts offered in a surgical drip bag, or highlighter pens as syringes.

 

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We forget, it's only natural - what can we do about it?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 08:40

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Fig.1. The Forgetting Curve. Ebbinghaus (1885)

'The psychological conclusion demands a distribution of repetitions such that some of them should be produced at a later time, separated from the first repetition by a pause'. (Vygotsky, 1926)

More recently, in the last ten years in fact, Dr B Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School (2006) created a platform called SpacedEd (now Qstream) that uses multichoice questions, typically and most successfully with first year medical students, where sets of questions are randomised then sent out as text or email to tackle, I suppose, what Ebbinghaus (1885) identified with his 'Forgetting Curve'. An evidence based paper on the effectiveness of 'spaced learning' showed how there was better retention three months, six months and a year down the line.

REFERENCE

Ebbinghaus, H (1885) Memory: A contribution to experimental phsychology.

Kerfoot, B, P (2006) SPACED EDUCATION. Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination: A randomized Controlled Trial.

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology

FURTHER LINKS

Formative Tests Aid Retention

 

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Some online tutor sessions work, some do not. Some social platforms work, others do not. Why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:58

Gagne (1970 pp29-30) suggests that instruction in an organized group discussion develops the use and generalizaton of knowledge – or knowledge transfer. Oxbridge tutors contend that the 'Oxbridge Tutorial' – a weekly, structured micro-meeting of two or three people, achieves this. One student reads out a short essay that the tutor and students discuss.

'When properly led', Gagne continues, 'such discussions, where the knowledge itself has been initially mastered', not only stimulates the production of new extensions of knowledge by students but also provides a convenient means of critical evaluation and discrimination of these ideas. Gagne (ibid).

Forty years on from when Gagne wrote this there are what are meant to be or hoped to be learning contexts where this kind of knowledge transfer through group discussion can still work – or may fail to work – either because the degree of subject mastery between students is too broad or there are too many students, or the wrong mix of students.

For example, in the Open University's Masters of Open and Distance Education (MAODE) between 12 and 16 postgraduate students meet online in a series of strucutured online tutor forums – some of these work, some do not. As these meetings are largelly not compulsory and as they are asynchronous and online, it is rare to have people in them together – the discussions are threaded. What is more, in any tutor group there will typically be a mixture of students who are on their first, their second, third, fourth or even fifth module of the Master's – some of whom, given the parameters offered by flexible and distance learning, may have spread these modules over five years. Then there is the task and how it is set, whether the participants are meant to work alone or collaboratively – the simplest and most frequent model online is an expectation to read resources and share notes and thoughts. However, personal experience over five such modules suggests that the committed engagement of say six people, working collaboratively on a clear set of tasks and activities with a time limit and climactic conclusion of delivering a joint project, works best.

Too many of these online tutorials drift, or fizzle out: too few posts, posts that are two long, fragmented posts linking to pages elsewhere, the indifference of participants, the lack of, or nature of the tutor involvement, excessive and misplaced social chat, or discussing subjects that are off topic ... It depends very much on the mix, inclinations, availability and level of 'knowledge mastery' as to how such online tutorials work out. As well as the eclectic combination of students the role, availability, online and other teaching skills, even the personality of the tutor and of course THEIR knowledge experience and mastery matters.

Just reflect on how such workshops or seminars may work or fail face–to–face – the hunger for knowledge on the topic under discussion, the mix of personalities and the degree to which their experience or level of understanding is the same, at slight or considerable variance, let alone any differences of culture, background, gender or in a business setting – position and the department they have come from.

Ideally the workshop convener, or what the French call an 'animateur' should, assemble or construct such groups with great care, like a director casting actors to perform a piece of improvisation. Different contexts offer different opportunities. As a graduate trainee in an advertising agency six of us were repeatedly assembled, the various departmental specialists and directors playing roles at specific times – bit players in these scenarios. On reflection, stage management by a team in the HR department had been vital. It is therefore 'stage management' that I consider of significant importance when trying to construct such collective learning experiences online in a corporate setting.

CONCLUSION

Know your players, cast with care, give direction, record what goes on and step in to nudge, re–kindle, stop or start conversations or activities.

REFERENCE

Gagne, R (1970) The Conditions of Learning

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Robert Gagne Wikispaces

Theories of Learning

Cognitive Design Principles

The Nine Events - from Kevin the Librarian

Various Models of learning - Illustrated

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Exploring the World of Social Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 11:04



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Find it here: Smashwords

There can be no better recommendation to read a book than when its author spots you as a like-mind and invites you to read.

I am halfway through Julian Stodd's 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' and am keen to spread the word to those like me who are studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) - particularly in H807, H808 and H800 we are asked to learn collaboratively and go understand the dynamics of shared learning spaces online from this blog-cum-bulletin board platform, to student tutors groups and break-out cafes. You may even have made it over to the Open University Linkedin group (go see).

I not only find myself nodding in agreement but better still in Web 2.0 terms I find I keep wanting to pause to explore a thought or theme further, the subject matter embracing learning, social learning and e-learning - while drawing on a professional corporate learning and development background, which makes a valuable change from an academic perspective on social learning in tertiary education.

To do this I return to this my open to all e-portfolio-cum-blog to search for what I have thus far picked up on social learning, learning theories, forums and so on. And to do the same in other people's blogs as hearing these familiar voices helps make better sense of it all.

I should add a grab here of the couple of dozen books I have read in, on and around 'social learning' - I put 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' alongside:

'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller

'A New Culture of Learning' Douglas Thomson and John Seely Brown

'From Teams to Knots' Yrjö Engeström

'The Now Revolution' Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

via a solid grounding in educational theory that you'd get from Vygotsky's 'Educational Psycology'.

An alternative to, or addition to reading about social learning in an academic papers, that are by definition are several years out of date, rate MySpace above Facebook and fail to mention iPads or Smartphones in the mix.

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Granularity in the context of understanding social learning within e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Aug 2013, 06:57

Granularity is best described as creating levels of data, with full control over who can see what. Stodd (2012:45)

Failing to find notes on granularity in his own blog while reading a son to be published book on social learning by a colleague - I stumbleupon this. The best way to learn, in my eBook - serendipty, vicariously, exploratority, but with a mix of familiar and new territory.

Christopher Douce

Clive Young

Morgan O'Connell

Jonathan Turner

Where, courtesy if his link to JISC I find a satisfactory answer:

Features: planning at different levels of granularity – activity, session, module, programme. customisation of terminologies to adapt to local institutional requirements. consideration of teacher time and learner time as significant parameters for learning design. updating of information in all stages after changes made in any one stage. externalising decisions made in designing through visual representations.

REFERENCE

Stodd, J (2012) Exploring the World of Social Learning

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H810 Activity 12.1 Notes on the history of England's first school for blind people

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 Oct 2014, 08:39

Braille provided a way to read material that could be reused by blind people and reduced the pressure on readers.

Worcester College

The attitude to blindness pioneered by those who founded Worcester College is, I think, best exemplified by Samuel Forster when he asserted that ‘the blind boy of healthy body and sound brain is, to all intents and purposes, nothing more than a seeing boy, whose lot is cast in the dark...blind boys are boys first, then boys in the dark...’, an attitude which much later became embodied in the school’s motto, “Possunt quia posse videntur”, They can, because they think they can.

Is preparedness for employment of greater value than an 'education'?

  • The debate rumbles on in relation to all secondary and tertiary education, whether 'academic' or vocational.
  • Thomas Anderson, manager of the Edinburgh Asylum before he went to York, was a great advocate of the utilitarian approach, and censured the English organisations for concentrating on schooling rather than employment.
  • Why educate the blind student if they have no gainful employment or means of supporting themselves afterwards? What indeed is the point in education if nothing follows for anyone? In developing the frustration takes young people onto the streets to protest.
  • As Ritchie says, ‘education was the attainment of a certain degree of factual awareness and the acquisition of a quantum of information—the names of the kings of Israel, the lengths of the chief rivers of the globe and several other categories of facts all equally unconnected with the growing and developing nature of the young’.

Of what use is this to the young blind student?

  • Or should it be in addition to the practicalities of living beyond their school?
  • The prevalent view a century ago was that knowing stuff equated to intelligence. In 1918 on applying to join the fledgling RAF my late grandfather told me how he was asked to name the six most northern counties of England.

A challenge the blind could do without and that was met most readily by those families with the means.

  • Higher education for blind children was confined to those fortunate enough to be born into families with the means and the will to provide this privately.
  • Something that across provision for disabled students hasn't changed, for example, the specialist Northease Manor School charges annual fees of £25,000 p.a. which, usually after a tribunal, local authorities may pay - while of course the well off have no such hoops to go through.

Inspiration from those who make it:

  • Blind Jack of Knaresborough, the road-builder, Nicholas Saunderson, the Cambridge mathematician, Thomas Blacklock, writer, teacher and philosopher, James Gale, inventor and Elizabeth Gilbert, a major figure in nineteenth-century blind welfare.
  • It would be wrong to suppose that blindness, like other handicaps, necessarily acts as a stimulating challenge.
  • Blindness may act as a challenge, but only under favourable circumstances. The exceptions emphasize how grim were the prospects of blind children before education for the blind became an accepted fact of life: conditions were too bad for the handicap to stimulate.

Discriminatory:

They were (says its 1872 report) ‘to bestow a sound and liberal education upon persons of the male sex afflicted with total or partial blindness, and belonging, by birth or kinship, to the upper, the professional, or the middle classes of society.

These unctuous and somewhat naive sentiments were, fortunately for his pupils, not characteristic of Forster. His attitude towards the education of the blind was unusually realistic and forward-looking. In 1883 he read a paper at the York Conference entitled “A plea for the higher culture of the blind”.

'The blind boy of healthy body and sound brain is, to all intents and purposes, nothing more than a seeing boy, whose lot is cast in the dark. The mysterious effects of this constant living in the dark have always exercised the imagination and sentiment of tender-hearted persons; but teachers of the blind prefer to disregard it, and come in time to forget it. To them blind boys are boys first, then boys in the dark.... needing the special aids and ingenious contrivances required by the circumstances.’

Presume nothing, ask the end user:

  • Forster wisely consulted some of his older pupils, and they advised adapting braille for the purpose.
  • Flexible, adaptable, accommodating and building on past experience and successes – so motivational and supportive rather than prescriptive.
  • Since braille was the only system which could feasibly be written, the boys learnt to write braille.
  • ‘Teaching to write with a pen and pencil is now generally abandoned as a waste of time’: but those boys who could write before they went blind were encouraged to keep it up. Forster admitted that much teaching was still oral, but not to the extent it was ten years before.
  • Can't start young enough, so perhaps schools can introduce tools and software.
  • Forster was very keen to get his pupils at as early an age as possible, preferably seven or eight, for no kindergarten was then in existence, and the later the pupils arrived, the harder it was to teach them.

Ingenious and inventive:

Mr Marston has been ingeniously endeavouring to apply these games to the use of “our” boys, by means of the principle of localisation of sound.

The difficulties of those boys (roughly one in five) who went on to university are worth elaborating. The student’s main need was for an intelligent sighted reader, for he had few textbooks with which to follow lectures.

'Daily shewing how the same visitation is robbed of its severity, and overruled to practical good.'

Vincent work station:

The software which accompanies the workstation makes it a versatile aid, but its uses might be grouped roughly into three main areas. First, and most obvious, it is a method of communication with non-braillists. Second, it is a valuable teaching aid. Third – it’s fun!

(Bignall and Brown, 1985)

Bell, D. (ed.) (1967) The History of Worcester College for the Blind 1866–1966, London, Hutchinson & Co.

Bignall, R. and Brown, E. (1985) ‘Vincent Workstation’, The British Journal of Visual Impairment, vol. 3, pp. 17–19.

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H810 - One Size does not fit all

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:38

I attended World of learning at the NEC yesteday. I'll blog thoughts and notes from various seminars in due course.

In relation to the MAODE module H810 this sums it up for all students in relation to e-learning.

A few decades ago all male colleges had to accommodate female students - I wonder where the ramps and accessibile lavatories are today in a place like Balliol College which has been on the same site for 749 years.

One size doesn't fit all applies to accessibility, as it always has done between students of all abilities.

How we, as people, and with what tools, resources and commitment is what matters today.

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MAODE Students - All the Hs: H810, H807, H800, H808 ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Mar 2014, 05:54

Enlightened and loving the MAODE, but always keen to have a book on the side that I can read, take notes on, think about and share. This, I have come to understand, is largelly because I was taught (or indoctrinated) to learn this way - books, notes, essay, exam.

Though never sharing - learning used to be such a secretive affair I thought.

How The OU has turned me inside out - the content of my mind is yours if you want it, and where we find difference or similarity let's bounce around some ideas to reinvent our own knowledge.

As I read this in eBook form on an iPad I add notes electronically on the page, or reading it on a Kndle I take notes on the iPad - I even take notes on paper to write up later. I highlight. I also share choice quotes on Twitter @JJ27VV. Which in turn, aggregates the key ideas that I can then cut and paste here, with comments that others may add.

Simply sharing ideas in a web 2.0 21st Century Way!

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H810 Activity 8.2 Case Study Review

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 11:40

"All education is about empowerment, whomsoever the learner might be". Tennant (2009:154)

I find myself looking for a single sentence, phrase or word to sum up what is required to improve access to higher education for disabled students - a good deal is applicable to all students (I was researching Stephen Hawking's career out of interest).

It is the value of the personal touch, one human being, the knowledgeable educator reaching out to another who has a genuine desire to learn - tutors who are natural educators, in the vocational sense - not watching the time or doing it for the money while their heart is in research. i.e. one person can make a difference.

Who in other words is the inspiration to the student?

I too found I was building up a long list of 'true to all students' which I found refreshing and touching, especially the desire to belong, to make friends, even to find love - while dressing up and getting drunk.

And to be independent of parents - or in one delightfully intriguing case from their twin!

The division between able-bodied and disabled, between the Olympics and Paralympics, is a compromise. How far and in how many ways can a cohort of students be split?

Mature students form a different group.

By subject, by gender, by socio-economic background, by UK resident or foreign student? By exam grades, by type and degree of disability? By the football team they support, the college or residential hall they stay in? And when you get down to the person how are they and their many moods and responses categorised?

The point made repeatedly on the platform of the LibDem Conference on disability and access - people want to be treated like people, that's all.

People are messy, none of us want to be a label. There can be a culture of doing things by the book, institutionally, by department or because of the jobsworth mentality of an individual. Hopefully social networks and the ease of reporting frankly on conditions will increasingly allow people to make choices about where they apply to study, and how - not mentioned as the case studies are not current (2004), e-learning and blended learning can increase flexibility and aid accommodation of people with a plethora of barriers before them.

Delays in funding are unforgiveable - more stories need to be brought to public notice so that politicians, departments and people are named and shamed. And not mentioned, but those families with the money can, as well as applying for funding, cover shortfalls, give additional allowances, fund a car or a flat.

How do you train staff in relation to disabled students?

Why do 'teachers' in Tertiary education think they don't need a qualification to teach? This would cover some of the ground. In sport we are taught to coach what a person can do - taking the time to find out what a person is capable of takes ... time, which is money, which anyone with an eye on payment by the hour the hours they have in a week is unlikely to give. It can ultimately only be done on a one to one basis. This comes down to the nature of the tutor, lecturer or 'educator' and their motivations - do they want to be thought of in their lifetime as the one who made a difference, who inspired a young person to achieve or do x or y, or think about things in a certain way?

Time is an interesting consideration - the goal and how it is achieved rather than the time required needs to be the consideration.

If more time helps get a person through or beyond a barrier, then time, more of it, or making more of it, is the answer. As above, time lost can now be recovered with e-learning or blended learning. Even a commute can, for some, be a chance to catch up on reading ... even to take part in an asynchronous forum such as this.

To accommodate training and competition schedules young athletes such as Tom Daily take three years to study for their A' Levels rather than two.

Might anyone, for a variety of reasons, take four or five years to complete an undergraduate degree - and benefit, as they mature, from having more time to get their heads around it. Life is disruptive in varying amounts for everyone.

CONCLUSION

It is a compromise, but there is a reason why the Paralympics are run separately, indeed, if this part of the Olympic Movement grows even more it may perhaps have to be split again simply to better accommodate to variety and range of disabilities. By bringing, for example, wheelchair users together you are better able to provide for them - the specially commissioned multiple wheelchair access train from Paris to Stratford International has to be an example. An entire university, built as if on an Olympic Village format, deigned above all else to give access to people overcoming a variety of disabilities would, like the Olympics themselves, probably have to draw on students from an international, even a global pool. How about, in collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, a college is financed to meet specific, or a set range of impairments? Are there not economies of scale, could services across the board not be better, or are we once again segregating people with disabilities rather than making efforts to bring down barriers of access to the mainstream?

Life is an obstacle course.

It isn't even the case that the person over the line first wins. If access adjusts as many of the obstacles to a height or level of challenge that is equal to all would we not have everyone crossing the line at the same time. In educational terms, certainly at tertiary level, if only those with similar levels of attainment, and this includes people with a variety of disabilities, then the test has been an intellectual one. Playing devil's advocate might it not be equally valid to put barriers in the way of the able bodied? Examination papers in a tiny font, a power-cut so all papers have to be read and written up in the dark, the dominant arm tied behind the back ... alternatively, an assessment system that is designed to elucidate what the student knows, however they can express this, so more viva voces, more applied and modular assignments as part of the submission ...

FURTHER LINKS

Thoughts on access from the conference floor - Liberal Democrats 2012

From where I sit videos

"I learned JAWS, the screen reading program that I use. I learned to communicate with my professors to advocate for my own self, talking about what I need when they use the three bad words, which are: “this, there and that”. For example, if they're talking about a bell curve "it goes up like this in the middle and then it goes down like that". That doesn't help me".

Sounds like a CPD on writing and presenting for Radio would go down well.

Cal - deaf - assistive technology in a US School.

So for the lack of an available interpreter or several interpreters, instead I use Assistive Technology. There is a person off-site who uses a headset and the teacher has a lapel microphone and when the teacher speaks, the person off-site can hear the teacher's voice through their headset and type into their off-site computer. And that information goes through an Internet connection to my laptop in the classroom. And I read the captions on the laptop while the teacher is lecturing in real time.

Stephen Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years since diagnosis in his early 20s. He is now almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device.

The important influence of teachers and parents.

Stephen Hawking has named his secondary school mathematics teacher Dikran Tahta as an inspiration,[5] and originally wanted to study the subject at university. However, Hawking's father wanted him to apply to University College, Oxford, which his father had attended. As University College did not have a mathematics fellow at that time, they did not accept applications from students who wished to study that discipline. Therefore, Hawking applied to study natural sciences with an emphasis in physics. University College accepted Hawking, and he gained a scholarship.

Christine - Juvenile Chronic Arthritis -

Slow to take up DDA, delay in getting kit. Mature student. Kit only does so much, no transcription software for digital recordings of lectures.

Dave - Extreme stress and abxiety disorder

Geoffrey - Maths PhD Student with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a condition that impairs the functioning of nerve cells gradually over time. It eventually leads to a loss of ability to move, though the brain is unaffected -

John - Cerebral Palsy

John identifies the support of his parents and professional assistants as having been vital in his success. He credits his parents for encouraging him to become as independent as possible, and instilling a pro-active attitude to life.

SKILL - student experiences

Laura - Brain Tumour age Five

The shift from living at home to semi-independence away from home in a hall of residence, or greater independence in a student digs, requires considerable adjustment. Far better if the transition from school and home to university is a gradual, or at least a stepwise progression - something those who attend sixth form college find marginally easier, but for those who have been at boarding school find easier still. Otherwise, some kind of compromise needs to be accommodated, or recommended, the simplest one to live at home at first - or, which some can do, home comes to the campus.

Simon - Cerebral Palsy

Courage, self-belief and compromise. Like all of us? Common to all students completing a degree and seeking employment.

Kirsten - Blind

Who are we to advise on the suitability of a course? Significant distances to placements with no compromises.

Acceptance for what I am rather than prejudiced with the label 'blind'.

Inadequate testing - CRB forms not available in Braille, assessments couldn't be read by the Screen Reader.

Emmanuel - Dyslexia

Sense of independence at Sixth Form College

Stuart - Wheelchair user after neurological illness

Adaptable with regard to my disability - working with what he could do, rather than trying to overcome a barrier unnecessarily. Disabilities and life experience a lesson to young students.

Laura - Profoundly Deaf

DSA for note taker Friends, travel opportunities, lip-reading different languages.

DIARY 1

  • Space requirements according to the disability or use of a wheelchair.
  • Socialising, nightclubs, flashing lights, layout and signage.
  • Feeling left out - the asthmatic and cigarette smoke.
  • A week can seem like a really long time sometimes, especially if in that particular week existence as you have known it for the past 19 years changes as completely as is humanly possible.

DIARY 2

  • Expectations about splints and stories of injury rather than genetic disorder - humans looking for things in common.
  • Embarrassment and disappointment when trying to initiate a social get together.
  • A learning process on both sides when it comes to lectures - is that good enough?
  • Tiresome visits to the GP for simple things
  • A Dictaphone serves many purposes - for lecture notes, but also recording other stuff and having a laugh. Yes, like all people, a disabled person has a sense of fun and mischief too.
  • A wheelchair user having to climb onto a washing machine to read the instructions.

DIARY 3

  • Making friends. 'It's nice to know that people are ready to help when my usual attempts at total independence fail'. Texting to meet up if she gets lost. Sarah Butler.
  • Just ask
  • Three weeks in and adjustments still being made to bed, bathroom and bathroom door to create easier access.
  • Don't be patronising -lectures who need training or to gain some emotional intelligence in how they behave with other people.

DIARY 4

  • Week 4 and no note taker in place for a tutorial so a fellow student stepped in.
  • This reminds me a bit of pushing my four year-old brother in his pram. Said one student to her.
  • It would, both needed to have a laugh about it.
  • Personal assistants aren't around all the time so friends need to help. This in relation to moving into a student home.
  • I was so nervous but it turns out I really had nothing to worry about. Academically it's going fine and socially it's just going even better. Visual Impaired Student, Sarah Butler.

 

DIARY 5

  • Bored with a lecture - like any student. Lumping herself in with the 70% who are likely to fail, hasn't found a suitable way to revise as writing and typing are out - so understands the need to work with the content but hasn't received help with ideas on what she might do instead.
  • Makes too much socializing the excuse for possibly doing not so well in an exam rather than the disability.
  • Required a friend to take the initiative to ask about the risks to an asthmatic of smoke machines at a choir concert.
  • Some people just thought I'd come as Superman and then I had to go and explain the subtle difference between coming as Superman and coming as Christopher Reeve, to which some people again just laughed hysterically and some people just looked shocked and didn't know what to say and went quiet. But I thought it was a great idea and very funny and I had a good laugh.

 

OUCH

CHARLOTTE'S DIARY

A quadriplegic with three full-time carers, one in her flat, the other two next door - them depending on her for further training after the initial inductions with her mother in the first two weeks.

  • Straight out to a fancy dress party - then to the shops.
  • Not used to having to remain alert for such long periods
  • Being young and wanting to fit in as much as possible
  • I feel I've been an outsider for quite long enough and it's time for a change.
  • Thinking about ... men.
  • Getting up at 6.45 to be ready for the first lecture of three at 9.30.

Introduced to scan and read technology - rather than during the second week of a course couldn't this be done ahead of the new term?

Catering for every kind of student includes the selection of music played

I don't know how much help tutors/lecturers are supposed ro give - this in relation to quantities of new terms in sociology.

Aware of the challenges, the risk to her health, even to her personality - but feels the degree will get her out of a more dull future otherwise.

  • Falling in love
  • Forthright advice applicable to anyone.

Baillrigg Lancaster University

  • Personal flaws quite distinct from the disability such as expecting too much from a situation.
  • Wants idependence, but my need parental involvement.
  • I want people who don't have such problems to be less intimidated by people like me and learn to appreciate them as normal.

ASPERGERS STUDENT

Lee's Diary

  • Importance of catering for different needs and interests - not everyone is a drinker.
  • Important I would have thought to have a very large and diverse incoming cohort, or good mixing between year groups, and a way for students with similar interests and outlooks to find each other.
  • A frenetic desire to get stuck into sll kinds of things, not just course work, but sports, activities and church groups.
  • Aspergers and Tourrettes - so he wants to learn BSL and Mandarin of course.
  • I did my first load of washing today which was a success, but the dryers were rubbish so I have wet clothes hanging on shelves and doors in my room.
  • Got laptop, scanner, dictaphone.
  • Ranges within Aspergers, in terms of response to emotions, or not. ability to communicate, or not.
  • Cross correlation insight between need for facial expressions in BSL and meanings of the four tones in Mandarin.
  • We do not suffer, which implies pain - fed up of media talking about people who 'suffer' from Aspergers or Tourettes.

I don't wanna be an inpsiration.

Interesting insight into ignorant, well meaning churchgoers who blamed Jesus for giving him a cold and would pray to make him hearing if he had been deaf. Shows who responses are so strongly influenced by context and experience.

Seeking independence from parents and finding ample respect from fellow students.

VISUALLY IMPAIRED - ANDREA

A 1.5 hour trip from Coventry to Warwick Uni, two buses and a guide dog. Youngest person ever to get a guide dog at 15.

DSA and assessments in August for a late September start. Netbook, scanner, JAWS, dictaphone. Also a helper as well as a request for a GPS device. NONE of the kit turned up in time, still none a week later. Nor her maintenance allowance, although everyone else has theirs. Still nothing by the end of October. End up being leant a zuni laptop that was too heavy to take into lectures or transport.

  • Very helpful with introductions, 3rd Year Student Support and lecturer support. Given advice about the dog too.
  • Don't assume she requires lecture notes on PPT enlarged, actually reduced as she has tunnel vision. In 12pt can only see two or three words at a time.
  • Note takers and helpers funded by DSA. Three in all.
  • Individual induction to the library.

TWINS - CONGENITAL MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

  • Wanting to be independent of each other!

INDEPENDENT LIVING AND A PA 24/7

What DSA does or does not cover. Does not cover the PA costs. Inadequacy of being handed a mobile phone and told to call a nurse across campus should he require to go to the toilet - but he can't even use a mobile phone that easily.

  • Several agencies to approach.
  • Package must include becoming an active participant at university.

Key problems:

Attitudes, finance and poor or inadequate advice. Cara an excellent ice-breaker for someone living at home not on ca

DSA includes ink cartridges and a taxi if it is raining or to get home later.

The irony is that potentially the most support and understanding of the issues will come from a parent - but like all young people growing up, they want Independence and are prepared to make sacrifices. However, their ability to manage their needs, costs, people, access, work load, mobility, socialising, kit and so on, is, as for anyone, in part down to that person's personality and resilience - can they manage people, are they thick skinned, do they have a sense of humour ...

Washington

The Paralympic Categories

Paralympics categories explained

What do categories mean?

Guardian on the classifications

Channel 4's LEXI System

REFERENCE

California State University (CSU) (undated) ‘From Where I Sit’ Video Series [online], http://teachingcommons.cdl.edu/access/materials/fwis.shtml (last accessed 23 September 2012).

BBC Radio 4 (2004) Disabled Student Diaries [online], http://www.bbc.co.uk/ radio4/ youandyours/ transcripts_studentdiaries.shtml (last accessed 23 May 2012).

Tennant, M (2009) chapter 10 in Contemporary Theories of Learning - Lifelong learning as a technology of self.

Ouch (2009) Disabled Student Diaries 2009 [online], http://www.bbc.co.uk/ ouch/ fact/ disabled_student_diaries_2009.shtml (last accessed 23 May 2012).

Ouch (2010a) Disabled Student Diaries update: Charlotte [online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/ ouch/ features/ charlotte_s_diary_update_2010.shtml (last accessed 23 May 2012).

Ouch (2010b) Disabled Student Diaries update: Lee [online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/ ouch/ features/ lee_s_student_diary_update_2010.shtml (last accessed 23 May 2012).

Ouch (2010c) Disabled Student Diaries update: Andrea [online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/ ouch/ features/ andrea_s_student_diary_update_2010.shtml (last accessed 23 May 2012).

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Reflections on e-learning - September 2010 to September 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 22 Sep 2012, 06:07

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don't get it, yet ... or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it 'til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I've always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, interviewing Dr about Qstream and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don't see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook - training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more ofay with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can't stand it - prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up - initially making do with the OU's MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I'm an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs - I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don't have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb - download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screengrabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don't prefering of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn't upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued harddrive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An execellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven't upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven't been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user - just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject intersts including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes - but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months - until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag ... and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage - do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively - migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialise the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors - both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What's new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts 'followers' to a good read - usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

 

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H810: Activity 5.3 National Policies on provision for people with disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 07:50

I work for a global e–learning company Lumesse which has 73 offices spread around some 40 countries. It would be interesting for me to see what accessibility polcies exist (I'll search online) probably a nod in each case to national or regional policy and legislation.

Of greater interest and relevance and running in close parallel to education at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary and beyond – is the policy for sports in the UK and for swimming in particular. (I'm familiar with Swimming Governing bodies in the US, France and Australia so could check these too).

As the 'Swim21 co–ordinator' for one of the largest swimming clubs in Southern England I compile a report with supporting evidence every four years to achieve various Amateur Swimming Assocation (ASA) national accreditiations. This includes provision for disabled swimmers. The award is used as a management tool – the club is a limited company with over 1000 members, some 26 paid staff and 60+ volunteers.

Swim21 – which stands for 'Swimming for the 21st century', goes beyond national legislation regarding disability, equality and inclusion – so much so that it impinges on the Data Protection act – those party to the information we make available have a current CRB check and have signed various documents agreeing to abide by certain disclosure rules, an ethics policy and an equity in sport code of practice.

Educational institutions would benefit from taking a look at this – I can see that it would, if permitted, cover far more than they do or are prepared to do in Tertiary Education. Would they carry the cost, even the potential risk?

The Swim21 report is divided into three parts: Compliance, Athlete Development and Workforce Development.

In each of these there are criteria the club must reach regarding disabled swimmers. I believe that most institutions – universities and businesses, tick boxes for compliance but fail to address the development of and support of their people – including disabled staff. There are notable corporate exceptions, but I can't think of a university other than The OU that champions learning for disabled students ... or provides so well for disabled staff (I worked on The OU campus for a year).

What I find interesting in relation to H810 and ASA policy is the close interplay between various apparently innocuous or tangential criteria that make what the club does such a success – in fact our club is a regional centre of excellence or 'Beacon Club' for disabled swimmers. It is this weave that integrates what we do that makes provision, and therefore access for disabled swimmers possible.

Crucial to this is a good working relationship with the pool operator, local schools for disabled students and a couple of champions who hold on tenaciously to what we can provide.

The relationship with the pool operator, meetings, adherence to their emergency and health and safety policies, provision of appropriate facilities and so on is a starting point. Tangential, but crucial to have in place. There has to be physical access for disabled athletes to changing rooms, toilets and the pool(s) with trained, sympathetic staff on hand.

The fundamental ingredient is what we call 'water time' – access to the pool or pools at times that suit the swimmers, rather than being marginalized to an evening slot on a Saturday or Sunday which is the policy in many pool operators when it comes to disabled swimmers. In relation to H810 then access to 'air time' is key, access to include the right, motivated, experienced and educated tutors, with appropriate resources – with access ring–fenced, protected and treasured.

Our disabled swimmers, themselves divided into two ability groups, have slots on a Saturday morning and a late afternoon/early evening on Wednesday. We integrate certain disabled swimmers into mainstream learn to swim and teenage swim groups and when they come along or develop would include them in squad sessions too. Here too Tertiary Education needs to understand the need not only for total, or part time integration, but also the provision for full or part time specialist, niche provision. This is provided by and should be informed by national organisations for sight, hearing, physical and learning impairments.

Provision for disabled swimmers is ASA Swim21 policy and includes: self–assessment on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), attendance by coaches on an ASA approved Disability Awareness Course and partnership with local disability organisations.

Supporting this, coach/athlete ratios are moderated to match the needs of the swimmer with 1:1 for some disabled swimmers, even 1:2 or 1:3 at times. We have to declare these ratios and demonstrate that they meet criteria by swimming level, age group and disability. There is a club Child Protection Policy and Equity Policy, and coaches agree to abide by a Code of Ethics – these embrace all swimmers.

In relation to H810, and where Tertiary Education might learn something – we maintain a record of club personnel which includes CRB and current relevant qualifications, as well as safeguarding and protecting children training. Most significantly with membership we capture medical conditions of all participants, disability information and emergency contact information. Teachers and coaches, on a need to know basis, have this information too (though it is wrapped in a data protection statement).

We attend ASA approved workshops on Swimming for Disabled Athletes.

All members, which includes parents and other volunteers, agree to a code of conduct. Anyone working with or likely to work with children have a current CRB check whilst every three years the club puts on a Child Protection Workshop which includes working with vulnerable and disabled swimmers. This is now supplemented by several ASA e–learning modules that include niche topics on coaching swimmers with visual impairment, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and/or behavioural issues.

The note on a swimmer is vital to a teacher or coach

Just a line or two and we can seek further advice and of course speak to the swimmer themselves leading to conversations on what they want to do and where they have problems to overcome. We improvise, compromise and accommodate. The context poolside is of course very different to e–learning if we think of e–learning as distance or independent learning, however, if we think of it as social learning online and do more supported synchronous and quasi–synchronous learning, then there are close parallels. The mistake is to think of e–learning purely in terms of ways to get 1,000 people a year through the same induction process or 2,000 through the same postgraduate module – wherein lies the importance of access to and the engagement of the tutor, and other people in support. People create access, improvise, accommodate difference, find ways around barriers ... and come to understand one person to another, what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Reflecting on this, there is another vital component 

We very often know the disabled swimmer from age 9 or 10 into their late teens – volunteers who work in specialist schools may well have known the swimmer for even longer. Some stay on to swim as adults. Given that there are so many kinds of disability and such a spectrum for each, this knowledge is vital. For example, it helps to know that a swimmer who is barely able to walk can, with assistance, balance on a starting block long enough to start a race. I'm starting to wonder where the equivalents exist in higher education and for e–learning in particular - perhaps this same swimmer using a specialist keyboard to be as active on social networks online as anyone else, not quite an avatar, but as 'free in the airwaves' online as they are in the swimming pool.

 

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e-learning needs to be 'my learning'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 13:45

iDesk%2520Sketch.jpg

'Time to see the individual needs in a personal way'

This is relevant to all learners, so perhaps provision for disabled students can put them in the vanguard - this is in theory where e-learning is taking us, reading Littlejohn and Pegler (2007) 'Preparing for blended e-learning'

The authors predict that the shift is towards putting the needs of the learner first - I feel however we are a long eay from that - not least the inertia of the physical infrastrucutre, but the traditions, habits and ways of our educators too.

Instead of seeing e-learning as a way to get one standardised module in front of 10,000 people it needs to be seen as a way of delivering 10,000 modules to 10,000 people with the vastness and complexity of their differing needs, interests, experiences, motivations, capacities, skills and so on.

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H810 - Disability and access

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 21:29

BBC%2520Accessibility%2520Graphic.JPG

BBC WEB ACCESS

As I am studying H810: Accessibility for disabled students I have naturally become tuned into my environment in a more sensitive way - there is a good deal on the Radio (especially coming through the Paralympics).

I am engaged with disabled swimmers at various times during the week, both those who are able to train in the mainstream groups (physical disability, cerebral palsy, MS - some 'lesser' learning impairment) and swimmers who come along to specialist sessions, split between two major and minor categories, though it is immiediately apparent, were you to use say the Disability Categories used in the Olympics that the individual differences are often so great that one would ideally have as many sessions as there are swimmers - we try to have as many coaches and helpers poolside as can be found. Ratios are adjusted according to needs from at most 6:1 but often 2:1 or 1:1. There are always people, guardians, parents and helpers to increase the ratio to 1:2 or 1:3.

The facilities meet accessibility criteria in relation to changing facilities, toilets, hoists and so on. However, I wonder if the pool operator, or the staff on duty, realise how insensitive in how they responded to someone using the disabled lavatory (which has access poolside) when they pulled the emergency cord. A light flashed poolside visible to all swimmers and anyone on the balcony - and then an announcement went out on the tannoy to the entire leisure complex.

'Assistance required at the disabled toilet. Someone is stuck in'.

Do anyone of us want a dozen or more heads to turn as we are then 'rescued'.

I bring this up as an indication of the sensitivity required, for anyone. What I have learned so far and know from experience is that people with a disability want access to be in place and obvious so that they can join the mainstream without fuss or favour. The last thing they want is to have a spotlight put on them.

The second issue is with labels and categorises, how with sport and education, depending on the disability, a person is 'lumped in with all the other disabled swimmers'.

To create access takes time, consideration and the right people - with some training and experience. As a coach I find it is the disabled swimmer who arrives in good time and will listen to 'notes' after the swim. It should be considered normal that disabled swimmers take part in 'mainstream' training sessions.

THE ROLE PARENTS PLAY

The parents, for the most part (siblings too, both brother and sisters) form the larger part of qualified swimming teachers or helpers working with disabled swimmers - all CRB checked, members of the club, often Level 1 or Level 2 assistant or full swimming teachers who have attended an ASA workshop 'Swimming for disabled athletes'. I know too from family experience the extraordinary lengths a parent will go to in order to press for what they know is right - ensuring a child with aspergers did NOT get put into mainstream school.

A final observation here, because behaviours in public have to be taught, rather than 'picked up' I find the swimmers with learning difficulties extraordinarily polite - with introductions, introducing other swimmers, making conversation and thanking me after the swim. It's as if in 'mainstream' teachers have given up on such things as teaching good manners.

Working with swimmers with educational difficulties

Short Description

An introduction and overview of commonly seen barriers to learning when teaching children.  This presentation explains the conditions, syndromes and disorders and gives strategies for managing the behaviour in a swimming teaching environment. To help non-specialist swimming teachers work with a class containing one or two  children with special needs.  It is intended to assist teachers to recognise some  conditions they may encounter and offers some coping strategies which may enable  the teacher to meet the needs of all the children in the class.

Intergrating disabled swimmers into a mainstream coaching environment

Short Description

To give  coaches a better understanding of coaching disabled swimmers, whose disabilities fir disability swimming and highlight ways that coaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get the best from training in mainstream clubs.

Integrating Swimmers with a Physical & Sensory Impairment into Mainstream Swimming Lessons

Short Description

To give L1 and L2 teachers an understanding of integrating disabled  swimmers into mainstream swimming lessons and highlight ways that  teaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get  the best from the learn to swim or school swimming environment.

We all benefit from 1 to 1 coaching -is this what we get from a parent or grandparent?

Who taught you to read, to swim, to ride a bike or cut a branch off a tree? To make an omlette or a cake.

Learning a musical instrument gets the ratios down, so does private tuition. At times I wonder if e-learning instead of aspiring to mimic this one to one relationship is nothing better than an interactive leaflet. Somehow the learner needs to be profiled before they start and the learning tailored, with student analytics an outcome. The e-learning needs to be smart and integrated.

 

 

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Preparing for blended learning - notes and reflection

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 14:35

 

Fig 1.1 Exponential growth in PC memory

From 'Preparing for blended e-learning' Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007

By 2012 shoulld we show the Amazon Rainforest or the biosphere of the entire planet?

 

Writing before 2007, the authors Alison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler make the concept of blended e-learning sound like anathema to Tertiary Education ywt this is how learning beyond Tertiary Education has always occured - not formal teaching, but learning through participation, through a mixture of books, workshops, and formal or informal passing on of knowledge from those who know to those who don't. From lawyers to accountants, management consultants to marketing managers, further applied career learning and training occurs through professional associations and certification, internal training departments and HR and working with external suppliers - external whether they provide 'external' courses at a bespoke conference centre or because they provide modules or courses online.

'Students are motivated by solving problems based on real-world activities that may be carried out non-sequentially and interactively. Such problems contrast with the sequential orchestration of tasks frequently planned as 'formal' education'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007 Kindle Location 6%)

See Chapter 8 for 'Information Literacy'

The locus of control shifts from the teacher to the learner.

We can achieve this through student analytics. The issue is how to start the process as there are restrictions on just how much, at least in tertiary education, you are allowed to know about your students. In business it should start with thorough, creditable psychometric testing with tailoring of continual professional development to the individual, within the context of their job specification and department.

Towards 'tailored content based on preferences, performance and permissions' (Littlejohn and Pegler, Kindle Location 8%) However, if the learning is tailored, how do you tailor assessment and make it equitable? This sounds like supervision of a D.Phil student.

Chapter 1 What is blended e-learning?

  • choice/access
  • online synchronicity/ or with a tutor, tutor group, cohort or institution - and beyond.
  • downloaded and mobile

NOT the immersion in games that in 1999/2000 companies such as JWM Creative (Worth Media) were creating - bespoke, specialist and expensive one offs.

DIAGRAM

  • Add slider from simple to complex
  • Just in time
  • Blogs
  • in touch with 'study buddies'

 

 

 

 

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Preparing for blended e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Sep 2012, 05:00

Published in 2007, researched and written over the previous 3-5 years, this book intimates the way things are going - or should I say, the way things have gone already?

The world of e-learning is one that moves fast, so fast that the creation of e-learning has become an integrated global industry - companies, often UK based (even with a Brighton bias) span the globe like international management consultancies, law firms or firms of accountants - indeed, the clients are often international law firms, management consultants, accounts and their clients. Does advertising and PR come into this too? Probably. Internal communications? Certainly.

In 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007) the authors Alison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler say that the 'integration of our physical world with the digital domain is becoming ubquitous'. At least two decades ago intergration was already occurring, initially internally, through intranets. Leading businesses knew that educating the 'workforce' was vital so they had learning centres, while the likes of Unipart (UGC) had their own 'university' with faculties and a culture of continual learning. Industry was ahead of tertiary education then and feels light years ahead now with learning created collaboratively on wiki platforms, often using Open Source software with colleagues in different time zones. There is a shift to globalisation in tertiary education, with Business Schools such as Insead, but also with integrated, international universities such as Phoenix buying up or buying into universities around the planet - create an undergraduate course in Geography, a blended e-learning package, and put into onto a campus in North America and South, in Europe and the Middle East, the Far East and Australasia ...

'Learners and teachers increasingly are integrating physical and electronic resources, tools and environments within mainstream educational settings. Yet, these new environments are not yet having a major impact on learning. This is partly because the 'blending' of 'real' and 'virtual' domains - or 'blended learning' - is challenging for most teachers, yet it is becoming an essential skill for effective teaching'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006 L287, Kindle Version)

I'd like to see a corporate e-learning agency create blended e-learning for a university - and to blend this in several additional directions courtesy of social learning back into secondary education, forwards into the workplace and sideways into the community and home. Perhaps I should call it 'smudged learning' - it happens anyway, at least in our household. It's surprising how helpful teenagers can be to their parents who work online - and it is us, the parents, who appear to click them in the right direction of for resources and tools for homework. I wanted Adsense on my blog(s) my son was happy to oblige - for a cut, which more than takes care of his pocket money.

'Blending ... centres on the integration of different types of resources and activities within a range of learning environments where learners can interact and build ideas'. (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2006: L341)

We're in it together like a small community in a medieval market town (actually, I live in one of these, Lewes) where the hubbub of the market spills out into the home and schools. All blended e-learning is doing is returning us to a more social, holistic and humanistic way of learning.

Welcome to the blended world.

What new - the drivers for change:

Costs (spreading them, making it count)

Sustainable (shared, flexible resources. In effect, one book can be shared by all)

Methodologies (still about learning outcomes, but treating each student as much as possible as a unique and vulnerable vessel of possibilities - not a cohort, or label)

Complexity (shared through collaboration in a wiki. Academics find this hardest of all, the idea that their mind , or at least parts of it, are open source, to be shared, not held back by barriers of time, tradition and intellectual arrogance. They too are a vessel and in its purest sense their emptying the contents of their heads into the heads of others is what it is all about)

Ethical issues (when is exposure a good thing? How much should we or do we reveal about ourselves? Knowing who your students are should only be seen as a extraordinarily developmental opportunity, not an invasion of privacy).

REFERENCE

Littlejohn, A., and Pegler, C. (2007) 'Preparing for blended e-learning' (2007)

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H810 : Learning, Accessibility and Memory

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 11:34

 

Ebbinghaus 'Forgetting Curve'

What does this say in relation to disabled students? What chances do we give them to record, then repeat or store components of their learning experience?

 

 

Where learning takes place at the most basic level. In relatoin to accessibility anything that hinders access to and accommodation of this process is a potential barrier or impact to learning.

 

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Transformational Learning - with an angle on accessibility (H810)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 13:29

'If we were to look at the whole of contemporary culture in the West culture as a kind of school and consider adult roles as courses in which we are enrolled, most adults have a full and demanding schedule'. Kegan (2006:39)

Piaget (1954) Assimilative or accommodative processes?

  • Understand your students - don't presuppose anything.
  • Learning for knowledge and skills, everyone will be challenged to improve the repertoire of their skills.
  • Not what I want to teach, but what, after assessment, they need to learn. No longer had a flexible peg jumping through an institutional, departmental, and academic or LD designed module, but a flexible peg and an accommodating hole.

No two people can possibly be learning the same thing, no matter what common assessment students undertake – the student with a disability, or disabilities, whatever these are and how they affect or impact on this individual – will be acquiring knowledge or a skill that has or is in some way transformed or  translated, the focus diluted or pinpointed through a note–taker, reduced range,  voice of an audio–reader, missing a lecture or seeing it from only one perspective, access denied or field or lab work excluded through their choices,  risk assessment, health and safety, time, money, people and other such barriers – though sometimes enhanced if a live debate becomes an asynchronous forum or verbatim transcripts of audio and provided to all. Having a much different take on the lesson can be advantwgeous as a differentiator.

What is the disabled person's frame of reference?

  • Each learner's experience of learning and their relationship with the subject.  Kegan (2006:45)
  • Where the learner is coming from as well as where they are hoping to go in order to bridge the two – this applies to all learners whatever their circumstances.
  • Where the bridge metaphor is week is to visualise the physical person in transit rather than a myriad of billions of complex bridging actions occurring between neurones in the learner's brain. (Kegan, 2006:47) So a spider gram might be better, showing how close to a goal the learner is.
  • Not just knowing more, but knowing differently. (Ronald Heifetz, 1995)

Mezirow (2000) Transfer of authority from educator to learner. How rapidly will this transformational shift occur, which is a function of how far along they are on a particular bridge.

How do define an adult, self–directed learner?

Skill, style, self–confidence.

What if, for example, we define, say Boris Johnson by what he can do – read Latin, ride a bicycle through traffic and play whiff-whaff, not by what he cannot do, say brush his hair or swim 1000m Front crawl.

While what if I define X by what he cannot do – say, get up in the morning or speak in anything shorter than a paragraph, rather than what he can do, swim the Channel and empathise with others.

Need to read: Hegel, The phemonology of mind.

This is why:

Hegel attempts to outline the fundamental nature and conditions of human knowledge in these first three chapters. He asserts that the mind does not immediately grasp the objects in the world, concurring with Kant, who said that knowledge is not knowledge of “things-in-themselves,” or of pure inputs from the  senses. A long-standing debate raged in philosophy between those who believed that “matter” was the most important part of knowledge and those who privileged “mind.”

REFERENCE

Kegan, R (2006) 'What "form" transformstions? A constructive-developmental approach to transformative learning. An abridged version of a chapter that appeared in Jack Mezirow et al. in 'Learning as Transformation' (2000). In ‘Contemporary Theories of Learning' (2009) Knud Illeris.

Mezirow, J. (2000) "Learning to think like an adult - Core concepts of Transformational Theory." IN J.Mezirow and Associates: Learning as Transformaton: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Piaget, J. (1954) The Construction of Reality in the Child. New York: Basic Books.

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H810 Activity 4.1 - Challenges disabled students in post-compulsory education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 09:05

H810 Activity 4.1

Define problems by:

Campus–based issues:

Complusory Education (College, old and new univerisities, postgraduate and even training)

Context – nature of campus, policy, history if and funding of accessibility, maturity and life-expeirence of the student (born with the impairment or not, residential experience or not). Gender, age, socio-economic group and sexual orientation. Before or after the London 2012 Paralympics and the call by Sebastian Coe to 'lift the cloud on limitations'.

Access related to mobility: parking, maps, ramps, signage, estates response to lifts that may not be working, policy and funding in relation to accessibility legislation. Geographical location of the campus – in town, or out of town, residential or collegiate, degree of provision of accommodation and other services.

Provision in lecture halls or tutorials of support for mobility, sight or hearing impaired and getting this balance right so that you promote/advertise services, but don't end up, in a wheelchair user's terms with the 'cripple corner' where wheelchair users are literaly pushed.

Course choices, flexibiliy if online provison as alternatives to some activities, registration procedures and how these are handled, such as per–start induction for disabled students and a buddy system.

Desk space and layout in rooms and libraries.

Access to social spacecs, not just dining areas, but JCR, library, bar, lavatories, postroom, laundry services, theatres etc.

Online learning issues:

Quality of thinking behind the e–learning and how often updated and ameliorated to ease and improve access for everyone.

Training as well as provision of assistive technologies.

Tick the boxes at the design and build stage for: cognitive, visual, hearing and mobility issues. i.e. keep it simple and apply web usability criteria relating to fonts, sizes, choices, colours, contrasts and layout i.e. good design is clearer for everyone.

Issues by subject/context:

The choice is with the student if they have the grades to join the course, but do you question someone with a sight impairment signing up to an art history course, someone with a hearing impairment studying music or potentially someone with mobility impairment signing up to a module in physical education, geology, civil engineering or mining – for example. On the other hand, though this is based purely on personal experience, I feel sure that an above average percentage of people with dyslexia are artisits or actors, or coach/teach sport i.e. they shy away from highly text based academic courses and careers. Part of higher education is a chance for a person to discover where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Common to all:

Extra time to complete tasks, even flexibility in the term or year for longer treatment breaks.

Personality, life–experience and participation in social life, how post compulsory education in various forms can be a 'big step in forming an independent personal and social identity'.

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H810 : Reduced to keying in data

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 09:03

What impact has disability ?

Inteviewed for The Reunion : Dolly the Sheep we hear from Marjorie Ritchie, the institute's surgeon, who was highly active and engaged with the animals as part of her research at the Roslin Institute in 1995 until she developed Multiple Sclerosis in 2000. On the one hand she hoped that the discoveries could one day lead to a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, but she felt that being in a wheelchair meant that the kind of work she could do was now very different, she missed the practical side of 'working with her animals' and had been reduced to 'keying in data'. She also made an interesting point about hopes being raised and dashed as advances are made, say in contrast with Parkinson's and Alzhiemers.

BBC Radio 4 : The Reunion - 9/9/12 at 11.30 am. These points made 37:50 through the transmission.

In relation to accessibility, the thoughts, hopes and expectations of those born with a condition or who develop a condition will be different. Most importantly, the response and wishes must be put in context and personalised. Accessibility should create choices - what the individual does is then up to them.

 

 

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H810 - Accessibility: Lifting the cloud of limitation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 07:02

So many have had something to say about disability, access and attitudes in the lst couple of days that I have taken to going around wiht a notebook - from Radio discussions and commentary, to TV coverage.

Last night Sebastian Coe mentioned the London terrorist attack in contrast to the Paralympic games and spoke of the 'worst of mankind and the best of mankind' he then said that 'we will never think of disability in the same way' and used this phrase in relation to access and opportunity as 'lifting the cloud of limitation' (Coe, 2012) Then, as the context comes back to education, Stephen Hawking's opening words and ideas are reiterated by the President of the International Paralympic Committee, to look upwards, to the stars - in effect, beyond the barriers of disability.

Earlier, a Channel 4 commentator talked about how wheelchair athletes personalised their kit, 'making them functional to the needs they have'. This, for me, is how we should think of e-learning - as kit that is readily personalised, but also adjusted to suit the 'functional needs' of the learner whether this is for text size, colour background, audio suport, captions and subtitles, or adapted keyboards and other devices that allow interaction with software that isn't unnecessarily tricksy.

It was noticeable to me that Sebastian Coe was introduced thus - he understands that titles are barrriers too, sometimes unneccessarily and undeservedly putting people on a platform when it is not deserved. Edward Windsor should, especially in this context, have been addressed as such - in truth, as the Queen is our Head of State only she should attend these events - or she should retire and the exclusive, unearned privilege of the monarchy and attending aritstocracy be demolished.

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Story telling - repetition

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Sep 2012, 06:06

IMG_3379.JPG

I have a number of stories where I have used this ploy - I now need to go back and fix, fix, fix.

According to Mirrielees (1947) saying the same thing over and over and yet saying it in a way that the reader accepts it as new is an important component of story telling. 'Tapping on the same spot, yet varying the sound of every tap', is how she puts it. Mirrielees (1947:31)

NOTE TO SELF:

By numbers ... The trap

And read the Pit and the Pendulum.

As movies of TV drama - set things up - the unexpected is rarely effective.

 

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H810: The politics of opportunity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 06:07

In week one we H810ers have been trying to get our collective heads around the meanings of 'accessibility' and 'disability' - courtesy of the Paralympics and the US Presidential Elections there is a wealth of contemporary opinion.

I don't follow the US Presidential Election at all, but sometimes you catch something. This I believe gives us a political model for 'accessibility' and any interpretation and response to disability.

"When we vote in this election, we'll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you want a winner-take-all 'you're-on-your-own-society' you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility - a 'we're-in-it-together' society - you should vote for Barrack Obama and Joe Biden'.

And what The OU means:

 

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H810: Accessibility as a subject for stand-up comic Francesca Martinez

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 06:55

Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIYuJ62Qbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Story Writing: Edith R Mirrielees

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Sep 2012, 06:10

IMG_3379.JPG

'A story to be effective had to convey something from writer to reader and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence'.

So wrote John Steinbeck in 1962 in a letter to his Stanford Creative writing tutor Edith Ronald Mirrieless.

Through Amazon I have got a copy of 'Story Writing' and will apply it in due course. The necessary pain will be returning to a story and sticking with it through all the rewriting.

 

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H810: Language, Terms, Access, Disability, Impairment, Xenophobia ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:51

Multiple asynchronous discussion in a tutor group, more of the same here – then get online and do the same live, in a synchronous chatroom or tutor group, or with those around you (family, friends and collegaues). This is such a terrific way to mold and shape your thoughts on an issue. I am doing H810 on 'accesibility' – a timely eyeo–opener with the Paralympics raging.

Forgive me if I keep mentioning the radio but I've driven well over a thousand miles in the last three days and not suprisingly there have been many BBC 4 programmes relating to disability due to the Paralympics - all on issues such as the terms to use, accessibility provision and even on how and when someone who becomes disabled 'Comes Out' to friends and family, as well as potentially to an institution where they work or study. Best of all, in the company of young cousins galore we have watched the irreverant, though brilliant, 'The Last Leg' on Channel 4 - comics and athletes, mostly with a disability though plenty of guests who do not, who rib and tell jokes, or make observations about the events of the day constantly making fun of themselves, their attitudes and the attitudes of others.

Dare I offer the kind of email or text they answer?

'Is it OK to punch a disabled person if they are being a knob?' Very Edinburgh Fringe, live and late in the evening, so fruity language used all the time - It breaks down barriers so is a form of access. I've got some time having finally got back home for 24 hours so plan to track down through BBC iPlayer the radio shows I'm referring too - as streamed radio these are only available for 7 days after transmission, though some are available as podcasts. Not necessarily outside the UK though? Perhaps if we act quickly we can persuade the BBC to archive and share some of this content? It's the kind of content that should be given a longer shelf life through Open Learn.

'Thlid, spas, spasmoid, mong' ... obviously and horrible terms used by boys age 8-10 at a boarding prep school in the 1970s.

Locally and with abusive undertones, children at a nearby home were name-called using a diminutive of the name of the place, 'Stellers' for Stelling Hall while at a public school where, for far too many bullying was the favourite sport, any act of stupidity you were called of all things, 'a right Balliol' after a local home for kids with learning difficulties. Even tourists got it in the neck as at any opportunity we'd lean out of a bus and yell 'tourist' at anyone with a rucksack and hiking boots (the school is in the Lake District). I turned up at this instituion after six months hospitalization, ops etc: having broken my leg very badly. I was nicknamed 'booties'' as I had to wear lace up ankle boots as one foot was smaller/weaker and required support. Did I like the term? Of course not, but by protesting the bullies insisted on using it. An entire cohort of younger boys, if anything at all distinguished them, they got a name, so accent, learning difficulty, squint, hearing, colour, religion - not just Jewish, but Catholics, were singled out.

Courtesy of Facebook I've recently been reminded of a list of abusive nicknames given to the teachers - in every case picking out a pysiological trait, accent or behaviour. Horrible.

All what I am saying coming to me from a dark, buried place in my head - no wonder Harry Windsor is admonished for calling a fellow soldier a Paki becuase he got this from Eton and being brought up in an elitist, underserved poweful and exclusive environment. To carry this on 'we' should now forever nickname him 'Bottom' so he isn't allowed to forget. I have to wonder from only a term of social anthropology as an undergrad if this, in a pack, or small group, comes from some innate sociatal xenophobia?

Thinking about the opposite of the appropriate behaviour or teriminology makes it apparent how much effort needs to be put in saying the best and correct thing especially as words come with all kinds of associations.

Historically was everyone who was different persecuted?

The solution to this is to get the person's name as soon as possible, double check with them how it is pronounced, even spelling, then use it - they are a name first, not a category, or a cohort, or an institution, but (like all of us) unique and individual, deserving respect, love and understanding. As I've come to understand v. painfully, whatever our bodies may be doing to let us down or limit mobility or the ability to communicate or even help ourselves, there is a good chance that much of or even a part of this unique being is cognitive to the last.

Respect this and imagine if by some twist of fate you were in this position not them - not pity, but the politeness to listen and look with care, even ask questions and never assume anything at all - being kept from the same life chances is perhaps what accessibility is all about, why should those who already be at an advanage be the  first or only ones to benefit from enhanced approaches to learning? Technology risks giving an 'unfair advantage' to those who already have a head start while access aims to gives everyone a chance or more appropriatley the choice to keep up or catch up in a way that suits them.

'Accessibility is a process of negotiation' - spot on.

Listen, ask questions, learn what you can about the person, their needs, wishes and expectations - get to know them. Where it is required offer choices, sometimes by trial and error, as for disabled people like all of us, we have our likes and dislikes, experiences of what works for us and what does not, and from a plethora of potential gadgets one thing or another, good bandwidth or not, a high resolution screen or not, preference for a mouse, tracker ball or tablet and stencil or a specialist keyboard - and so on. Take a course in learning theory!

Context matters. Pressume nothing.

Within reason be prepared to make the time to individualise and adjust everything - and expect to return to this to adjust as circumstances ebb and flow. One size never fits all - wherein lies the biggest barrier caused by mass produced technology from a mouse to off-the-shelf software. Can it be adapted? Is there an App that suits my specific needs? That opens a door that is currently closed?

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