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H810 : Activity 19 Accessibility Guidelines - the good, the bad and the ugly

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012, 12:48

The Good

Maria%2520Montessori.JPG

Fig.1. Maria Montessori

My journey into accessibility guidelines, legislation, principles and case studies quickly diverted me into the nature of multi-modal learning. I knew as I started this module that I was looking for or expected when I term the 'Montesori Effect'.

Maria Montesori was ill-treated because of her gender, finding resistance to her desire to study medicine and further resistance once she got there. I wonder if there is resonance here for a disabled student meeting resistance or faced with prejudice of any kind when pursing their academic studies? Montessori's early studies involved children with disabilities and it is through this that she developed her educational philosophy that has come to influence the ways we teach. I can see that her work is something I shall have to study too.

'Montessori experimented with allowing children free choice of the materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment'. Wikipedia (last accessed 31st October 2012)

Turning to reading up on accessibility guidelines I read through the following:

National Center for Accessible Media

Software and tools

Educational Issues for Students with Disabilities

Accessible interactive software can bring the benefits of multimedia and experimental learning to students who may otherwise be left out. Interactive learning experiences will be especially enriching for students who may otherwise have more limited experiences. Because students with disabilities may not be exposed to as wide a range of activities as other students, accessible software can contribute positively toward filling in some of those gaps.

Low-vision students may still learn from a visual program, provided it is well designed.

Software should allow:

  • fonts to be adjusted
  • provide clear contrast for objects that students must locate and manipulate
  • include keyboard commands to reduce mouse dependence
  • provide a system cursor that moves with important screen events so that magnifiers can track them.

Benefits of Multimodal Learning

Making software and digital publications accessible to students with disabilities has benefits for other students as well.

These benefits are especially important for students learning English as a second language and those with reading difficulty. Accessible textbooks and software often provide multi-modal access to information, combining text with audio. 

Tindall-Ford and colleagues showed in several different experiments that when information is presented in audio and visual form, performance on complex tasks is improved (1997).

'The intellectual complexity of information, generated by the degree of element interactivity, may determine the conditions under which the structure of presented information is critical and thus, when cognitively derived information-presentation techniques such as integrated and audio-visual packages are most useful. Finally, the measures of perceived mental effort used in this article lend further support to the notion that cognitive load is a critical and major factor when formatting information'. (Tindall-Ford et al 1997:283- 84)

The Bad?

Microsoft%2520Keyboard%2520Dual%2520Learning%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.2. A contemporary example of dual-mode learning?

'When two sensory modes are better than one' deserves a class of its own. I've migrated discussion on this to an e-learning group in Linkedin while opening it up to discussion here and in the H810 Student Forum.

J.R. Williams reviewed about 100 studies from the literature on use of multimedia in instruction and found that combining visual and verbal information can lead to enhanced comprehension (1998). Mentioned in the above guidelines, though not giving the reference I offer below - again, worth studying in its own right.

The Ugly?

Tindall-Ford%2520Integrated%2520Diagram%2520and%2520Instructions.JPG

Fig.3. An example of the integrated instructions used by Tindall et al (1997)

FURTHER LINKS

Maria Montessori:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Montessori

REFERENCE

Tindall-Ford, S, Chandler, P, & Sweller, J 1997, 'When two sensory modes are better than one', Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 3, 4, pp. 257-287, (Last viewed 31st October 2012).

Williams J.R. (1998) Guidelines for the Use of Multimedia in Instruction Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting October 1998 42: 1447-1451,

 

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Design Museum

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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