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H810 WK2 Activity 4.2 Accessibility - The perspective from the institution

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 13:36

Challenges and opportunities for disabled students:

  • Large, old heavy doors

Sixth Form College a spring-board into university life

  • Provision of laptops and software
  • Better in North America with more discussion instead of note taking in lectures

Tailoring needs

  • Losing paperwork (the institution, not the student with the specifics of their declared disability) - too often occurs
  • A long-winded process

Crowded Power Point slides - often cited as a problem - all students would benefit from simplified and more considered use of 'death by Power Point'.

Speed of delivery by lecturers - accents, always too fast - cited as a problem several times

Libraries and books on shelves - a thing of the past? (personally I used to enjoy using a library as a plsce to research and twke notes - like going to church to pray - it puts you in the required frame of mind.

Provision of pre-lecture notes

  • Talking facing the board - students should leave feedback motes in order to get lectures to change their ways. Why is their no formal teaching qualification at Tertiary Level?
  • Huge reading list - lazy pedagogy?

Noise and seating arrangements

  • Finding out about services by accident
  • Providing details on enrolement that are lost or forgotten
  • Need for own, not shared room/accommodation.
  • Defining boundaries NOT making them looser.

Lecture sheets that aren't precise - sloppiness

 

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H810 WK2 Activity 4.2 Case Studies (notes) - The Student Perspective

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 13:32

Challenges and opportunities from the student point of view:

Accessibility

How the student with a disability sees it:

  • Persistence
  • Internal Support
  • Personality

Independence (responsibility)

(I liken it to a game of snakes and ladders in which the disabled student needs to avoid both, which sounds inequitable: ladders they cannot climb for lack of access and snakes that pose a problem to them that are avoidable or inconsequential to others).

Proactive

  • Working with the way a lecture or tutor responds
  • Software - and its foibles.

Making time to proof read

  • Preference for 'lively discourse' to essays and exams
  • Using the extra time given
  • Use note takers
  • Use the tools on offer: closed caption video, recorder system.

Influences the choice of university

  • Copying missed information from friends
  • Finding out you're not the only student with a disability
  • Dissertation needs not to be the only way to assessThe right motivation at the right time
  • Having to work through pain
  • Doesn't like the fuss
  • Communication a big issue

Alcohol and the student union

Lecturer sounded like a guinea-pig

 

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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 - 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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Accesibility for disabled and older people

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 06:01

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'Excluding people who are already at a disadvantage by providing small, hard–to–use, inflexible interfaces to devices and apps that create more problems than they solve'. (Jellinek and Abraham 2012:06)

This applies to older people too, indeed anyone on a spectrum that we might draw between full functionality and diminishing senses. Personally, with four immediate relatives in their 80s it is remarkable to find how quickly they respond to the text size options of a Kindle, even having text read out loud, the back-lit screen of the iPad and in particular galleries of thousands of photographs which are their memories too (in the later case invaluable to someone who has suffered a couple of severe strokes).

Reasons to think about accessibility:

  • social
  • ethical
  • legal

My observation here is that Many programmes are now deliberately ’app like' to meet expectations and because they are used in smartphones and tablets not just desk and lap tops. Where there is such a demand for app-like activities or for them to migrate seamlessly to smartphones and tablets (touch screen versions) we need stats on how many people would be so engaged - though smartphone growth is significant, as a learning platform tablets are still a minority tool.

The users who can miss out are the blind or partially sighted or deaf. Blind people need audio to describe what others can see and guide them through functions while deaf people and those with hearing impairments need captions where there is a lot of audio.

It is worth pointing out that there is 'no such thing as full accessibility for everyone'. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07)

But on the other hand, 'we mustn't exclude disabled people from activities that the rest of us take for granted'. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07)

There is less homogeneity in a learner population than we may like to think

REFERENCE

Jellinek, D and Abrahams, P (2012) Moving together: mobile apps for inclusion and accessibility. (Accessed 25/082012) http://www.onevoiceict.org/news/moving-together-mobile-apps-inclusion-and-assistance

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