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H810 End of Module Assignment - done!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Jan 2013, 10:15

I have never finished an assignment within a few hours of the deadline - it has taken, what 16 assignment and five modules to reach the stage with my FINAL assignment that I am satisfied with my fifth draft and can upload FIVE days ahead of the deadline.

If only I had understood the need to get to this stage, give or take a few days, many months ago ... to get on top of the subject in good time.

I have a week to decide whether to follow H809 on research methods ... with a view to beginning a PhD in September 2013!!!

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My PhD topic might be on user generated content used in social learnign or the development of virtual companion (artificiual intellifence) to support people with dementia or recovering from a stroke.

Or I get a proper job sad

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Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 10:29

Olympic and Paralympic Legacy House of Lords 8th Nov 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Baroness Doocey

I can testify personally to the skill and dedication of this extraordinary band of people, who worked tirelessly to anticipate and deal with every conceivable security problem in order to keep us safe.

Could this be said of making e–learning accessible?

Anticipating every conceivable accessibility problem?

My first area of concern is the sporting legacy for disabled people. LOCOG deserves particular praise for delivering the first fully integrated Games, with the Paralympics as much a part of the games as the Olympics.

Surely to be fully intergrated 'both' games would have to run together rather than separately - intergration and equity means like for like, as part of the same commmunity, as fellow people whoever you are.

Can we have the first fully integrated university, with students with disabilities as much a part of the undergraduate world?

To provide a legacy for children with disabilities who are being educated in mainstream schools, as most are, we need teachers to be appropriately trained, to know what assistive technology and software is available and where to get it. These teachers do not currently receive this training automatically but are instead expected to undertake training voluntarily in their own time.

The Government must change this system.

They should also make funds available to schools to bring in outside coaches to help.

Lord Deighton

My time at Goldmansachs taught me about leadership in the most demanding environments. I discovered the value of working with talented people and the benefits of teamwork; that there is nothing worse than an unhappy client; the importance of communicating clear goals; and the need to execute against these goals day in and day out to the highest standards.

It is that experience which has guided my work at London 2012, where I have also enjoyed the unstinting support and wise guidance of my noble friend Lord Coe, with whom I shared a trust and friendship which enabled us to meet the project's many and diverse challenges.

The Games on their own were never going to change the world and it is not fair to expect that.

I believed that they could provide a moment that would open the public's eyes to possibilities for disabled people and a moment where, at a basic level, the public would stop talking about the "real", the "normal" or the "proper" Games when they meant the Olympics and "the other Olympics" when they really meant the Paralympics.

Language is the dress of thought, and inclusion is more than putting a few Paralympic images on a poster or in a line-up

Baronness Grey–Thompson

Equality is not a tick-box exercise. There has to be substance beneath it. LOCOG proved that time and time again.

It celebrated the similarities between the Games and, where appropriate, the differences.

Never once in all my time involved in these Games did I feel like a second-class citizen in sport. I cannot say that that has always been the case. The legacy is more than sport and physical activity.

On a personal level, very recently, I had difficulty getting off a train. I had to sit on the floor by the toilet, push my chair off the steps before I shuffled to the door to transfer off.

Do we really need to wait until 2020 to have accessible transport?

If we can deliver an amazing Games, we can do other big projects too. Recently, I was invited to a dinner where I had to use the back entrance to get in. When I wanted to use the bathroom, it took several minutes to find a ramp and, while I was in the bathroom, it was taken away and I could not get back down the steps-not quite inclusion.

Lord Moynihan

Education's rightful place should be at the epicentre of the Olympic sports legacy. We need a revolution, on the back of a successful Games, in the delivery of school sport. Every primary school needs dedicated physical education delivered to national curriculum standard; provided by well-trained, focused individuals; and supported by a vibrant, accessible and sustainable interschool sports programme which is, in turn, supported and linked into the national governing body competition calendars.

If there was ever fertile ground for David Cameron's vision of the big society, it is through sport and recreation.

Control, power, jobs and funding needs to be shifted from bureaucratic, micromanaged structures under the influence of Whitehall to families, clubs, volunteers, community groups and schools, who should be empowered with the task of translating the inspiration of the Games into participation.

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While I have focused on the BOA today and the vital need to deliver on the Olympic sports legacy, there is no doubt that equal attention should be given to the British Paralympic Association and to sport for those with disabilities.

For this summer gave us a moment to understand the abilities of the world's Olympians, not their disabilities.

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Lord Addington

Disability access was one of the largest areas under discussion. The noble Lord, Lord Davies, is not present but I remember saying to him, "Listen, it is not about disability; it is about the Olympics. We have the disability stuff in place".

Those discussions probably helped to make the Paralympic Games such a success. We undertook the relevant work at an early stage.

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Lord Hall of Birkinhead

Being involved in the arts and culture can give you a sense of confidence and self-worth and that is why it is so important that the arts remain strong within the national curriculum, and why they should be included in the new English baccalaureate. That would be a good legacy of the Games. When the Globe Theatre ambitiously put on all 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 different languages, people came from all around the world and 80% of those who came had never been to the Globe before.

It was an extraordinary outcome.

We need to look at ways of continuing that. One idea is a biennale, which is one of the things that the board I chair is looking at for the Government. It would be good to know that the Government are building on what was achieved this summer in terms of new audiences.

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H810: Seale Chapter 13 : issues identified in relation to creating accessible e-learning for students with disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Jan 2013, 23:08

Bill%2520Murray%2520Groundhog%2520Day.JPG

Fig.1 Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray

At what point does the protagonist in the film 'Groundhog Day' -  TV weatherman Phil Connors played by Bill Murray - unite the Punxsutawney community? How does he do it? And what does this tell you about communities of practice? (Wenger 1998)

Chick%2520Peas%25201.JPG

Fig. 2. Chick Peas - a metaphor for the potential congealing effect of 'reificaiton'

Issues related to creating accessible e-learning

Pour some dry chickpeas into a tall container such as a measuring jug add water and leave to soak overnight. The result is that the chickpeas swell so tightly together that they are immovable unless you prize them out with a knife - sometimes the communities of practice are embedded and immovable and the only answer could be a bulldozer - literally to tear down the buildings and start again.

'Congealing experiences into thingness'. Seale (2006:179) or derived from Wenger (1998)

This is what happens when 'reification causes inertia' Wenger in Seale (2006:189).

'Reification' is the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing. Britannica, 2012.

To ‘reify’ it to thingify’. Chandler (2000) , ‘it’s a linguistic categorization, its the conceptualization of spheres of influence, such as ‘social’,’educational’ or ‘technological’.’ (ibid)

'Reification creates points of focus around which the negotiation of meaning becomes organized'. Seale (2006)

It has taken over a century for a car to be tested that can take a blind person from a to b - the huge data processing requirements used to scan the road ahead could surely be harnessed to 'scan the road ahead' to make learning  materials that have already been digitised more accessible.

Participating and reification - by doing you give abstract concepts form.

1) Institutional and individual factors need to be considered simultaneously.
2) Inclusivity (and equity), rather than disability and impairments, should be the perspective i.e. the fix is with society rather than the individual.
3) Evidence based.
4) Multifaceted approach.
5) Cultural and systemic change at both policy and practice levels.
6) Social mobility and lifelong learning were ambitions of Peter Mandelson (2009).
7) Nothing should be put or left in isolation - workshops with children from the British Dyslexia Association included self-esteem, literacy, numeracy, study skills and best use of technology.
8) Encouraging diversity, equity of access and student access.
9) Methods should be adapted to suit the circumstances under which they are being applied.
10) Technical and non-technical people need to work together to tackle the problems.
11) A shared repertoire of community practices ...
12) Design for participation not use .... so you let the late arrivals to the party in even if they don't drink or smoke (how would you integrated mermaids?)
13) Brokering by those who have multiple memberships of groups - though the greater the number of groups to which they belong the more likely this is all to be tangential.
14) Might I read constellation and even think collegiate?
15) If we think of a solar system rather than a constellation what if most are lifeless and inaccessible?
16) Brokers with legitimacy may cross the boundaries between communities of practice. Wenger (1998)
17) Boundary practices Seale (2003)

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Fig. 3. John Niell, CBE, CEO and Group Chairman of UGC

Increasingly I find that corporate and institutional examples of where a huge change has occured are the product of the extraordinary vision and leadership of one person, who advocates putting the individual at the centre of things. Paying lip service to this isn't enough, John Neil CBE, CEO and now Chairman of the Unipart Group of Companies (UGC) called it 'The Unipart Way'.

REFERENCE

Britannica (2012) Definition of reification. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/496484/reification)

Chandler, D (2000) Definition of Reify. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tdet05.html)

Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 23 Dec 2012).

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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H810 - Navigation Tips for students with visual impairments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 16:50

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Fig.1. Google Docs help center - navigation

I was looking for a way to an an Umlaut to the name 'Engestrom' in Google Docs help but instead stumble upon something far more valuable in relation to access to e-learning for students with disabilities - navigation short cuts. These apply to how a person with sight impairment might move through a text and so, like basic web usability, informs on best practice when it comes to writing, proof reading and lay-out, i.e. editing with a reader with a visual impairment in mind.

Somehow the clear way the guide is laid out caused the penny to drop in a way that hasn't occurred in the last three months however many times I have observed, listened to, read about or tried to step into the shows of a student with a visual impairment.

Web usability recommends a way of laying out text that is logical, clear and suited to the screens we use to access content from the web. This logic of headings and multiple sub-headings, let alone plain English in relation to short sentences as well as use of paragraphs makes reading not only easier for those with no disability, but assists those with varies degrees of visual impairment as content is then better able to respond to standard tools of text enlargement and enhancement, but also of screen readers that work best when reading through text.

What assistive technology does, a control that doesn't require a mouse and keeps a manageable set of keys under the fingers rather than needing to run back and forth across the keyboard, is to reduce the above commands to actions that a visually impaired or blind person can then use to control their web viewing experience.

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Access to work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:31

Access to work 

Site Improve 

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H810 : Activity 32 Blogs on accessibility and disability in learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:02

BLOGS ON ACCESSIBILITY

Disability in business

http://disabilityinbusiness.wordpress.com/
Jonathan, who has a degenerative spinal condition which means he uses a wheelchair and has carers to assist him, has first hand experience of the challenges faced by people living with disabilities – especially in the business world. “I used to run multi-million pound companies and I’d go with some of my staff into meetings with corporate bank managers and they’d say to my staff, ‘it’s really good of you to bring a service user along’, and I’d say, ‘hang on, I’m the MD –  it’s my money!’ 

Disability Marketing

http://drumbeatconsulting.com/

Michael Janger has a passionate interest in products and technologies that enable people with disabilities to enjoy a better quality of life, and works with businesses to effectively market and sell these products to the disability market.

Think Inclusive

http://www.thinkinclusive.us/start-here/
I think there are two basic assumptions that you need in order support inclusion (in any context)

  1. All human beings are created equal (you know the American way) and deserve to be treated as such.
  2. All human beings have a desire to belong in a community and live, thrive and have a sense of purpose.

The important takeaway…when you assume people want to belong. Then is it our duty as educators, parents, and advocates to figure out how we can make that happen.

Institute of Community Inclusion

http://www.youtube.com/communityinclusion
For over 40 years, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) has worked to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to dream big, and make their dreams a fully included, integrated, and welcomed reality. ICI strives to create a world where all people with disabilities are welcome and fully included in valued roles wherever they go, whether a school, workplace, volunteer group, home, or any other part of the community. All of ICI's efforts stem from one core value: that people with disabilities are more of an expert than anyone else. Therefore, people with disabilities should have the same rights and controls and maintain lives based on their individual preferences, choices, and dreams.

Cerebral Palsy Career Builders

http://www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com/discrimination-definition.html

How to deal with the following:

  1. Bias
  2. Presumption
  3. Myth
  4. Skepticism
  5. Prejudice
  6. Discrimination
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H818 - The Networked Practitioner - New for Autumn 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:50

Fig. 1. The Digital Scholar

Martin Weller's Digital Scholar becomes the basis for H818 - The Networked Practitioner

This new e-learning module from the Open University uses Martin Weller’s book The Digital Scholar is part of a wide range of open access material used for the module and Martin is one of the authors of the module content.

Chapter 1 - Read it here on the Bloomsbury website

Over the last couple of years I have said how much I would like to 'return' to the traditional approach to graduate and postgraduate learning - you read a book from cover to cover and share your thinking on this with fellow students and your tutor - perhaps also a subject related student society.

Why know it if it works?

Fig. 2. The backbone of H810 Accessible Online Learning is Jane Seale's 2006 Book.

Where the author has a voice and authority, writes well and in a narrative form, it makes for an easier learning journey - having read the Digital Scholar participants will find this is the case.

As in the creation of a TV series or movie a successful publication has been tested and shows that there is an audience.

The research and aggregation has been done - though I wonder if online exploiting a curated resource would be a better model? That e-learning lends itself to drawing upon multiple nuggets rather than a single gold bar.

There are a couple of caveats related to this tactic:

  1. Keeping the content refreshed and up to date. Too often I find myself reading about redundant technologies - the solution is to Google the cited author and see if they have written something more current - often, not surprisingly from an academic, you find they have elaborated or drilled into a topic they have made their own in the last 18 months.
  2. Lack of variety. Variety is required in learning not simply to avoid the predictable - read this, comment on this, write an assignment based on this ... but this single voice may not be to everyone's liking. Can you get onto their wave length? If not, who and where are the alternative voices?

 

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What communicating with a person in a vegetative state can do for e-learning

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The self-drive car will allow those with sight, mobility and other disabilities to travel when and where they want for the first time - had accessibility laws been enforced 100 years ago how far would cars have got? The self-drive computer is a decade away - this is a computer controlled by the user's thoughts - something already trialled by communicating with people in a vegatitive state - will this be the ultimate degree of accessibility? Legislation and policy sets the bar overwhich institutions must step - this bar should be raised constantly to strive to keep not too far behind what is possible. From time to time it would be valuable for someone to reach way beyond, this will be achieved by working with disabled students, the case of the patient in a vegative state the most extreme example - knowledge gained in that extreme example offering insights that could be used in the general population and of course with people who are far less disabled than this extreme.
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Lego Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:37

Bill%2520Furniss%2520%252B%2520UKCC3%25208NOV08%25201.jpg

Fig.1. Coach training with Bill Furniss, Nottingham

The Amateur Swimming Association, who train all our swimming teachers and coaches up to the highest level through the Institue of Swimming, have a hundred or so Open Learn like modules that take typically 2-3 hours to do including things like 'Coaching Disabled Athletes' and 'Working with athletes with learning difficulties'. And other important refresher modules such as child protection.

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Fig.2. Learning for disabled students needs to be tailored to their specific needs

As we have now seen on H810 : Accessible Online Learning - far more so than in the general population, there are specific and complex needs. The general disability awareness for sport says, 'see the ability not the disability, play to their strengths' - as a coach you have to identify strengths from weaknesses.

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Fig.3. Using an endless pool to examine swimming technique

Once you are working with an athlete then you find you need more specific knowledge on a, b, or c - which might be an amputee, someone with cerebral palsy, or no hearing. Each person is of course very different, first as a person (like us all), then in relation to the specifics of their disability so a general course for tutors and teachers then becomes a waste of time.

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Fig.4. Lego Education using Lego Techniks

If we think of this kind of e-training as construction with Lego Techniks, then once you're past the introduction a 'set of bricks' should be used to assemble more specific answers and insights - even getting users - in this instance a coach and athlete, to participate in the construction based on their experience i.e. building up hundreds of case studies that have an e-learning component to them. The Lego Educational Institute are an astute bunch, their thinking on learning profound, modern and hands on.

Perhaps I should see what I can come up with, certainly working with disabled athletes the coach to athlete relationship is more 1 to 1 than taking a squad of equally 'able' swimmers. Then apply it to other contexts. And Lego are the ones to speak to.

'Lego Education' are worth looking at.

The thinking is considered, academic and modern - written in language that is refreshingly clear and succinct given the subject matter. The idea of 'flow' - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - is included while the 'Four Cs' of learning is a good way to express the importance of collaborative, self-directed construction and reflection:

  • Connect
  • Construct
  • Contemplate
  • Continue

 

 


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H810 : Do you need help getting around?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 7 Dec 2012, 16:54

IMG_3883.JPG

Fig.1. Signage plonked in your face as you exit the tube station at Tower Hill

My antennae are out for anything and everything to do with accessibility - this caught my eye because there is no mention of disability or accessibility - nor should there be. I find phrases like 'disabled persons' or, instead of the icons such as these -  words like 'wheel-chair user', 'blind' or 'visually impaired' and 'deaf' as out-moded and inappropriate as efforts to define 'people of colour'.

I rather liked the 'older old' which I say in something yesterday - by anyone's reckoning Rupert Murdoch at 82 is 'old' whereas his mother who died yesterday was certainly 'older old'. Given how long-lived we are becoming Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man' ought to be rephrased as 'the nine (or ten) ages of ... 'persons' (yuk)

I rather like 'oldies' too - but do they?

The relevance of this two-fold: the integration rather than the segration of disability into the population - at many levels we are all just 'people' and the language should reflect this; universal language as well as universal design - so understanding at what 'levels' words also need to be chosen with care. As this sign does so well there is no need or value in defining the need by labelling people with certain disabilities, at deeper levels then yes, clarifying and responding, for example to a visual impairment and then refining this to the blind, legally bling, sight impaired, short sighted and so on is necessary. Getting the context right matters. Giving it some thought - and having people in place to give it this thought - helps.

FURTHER LINKS

Transport for London

Transport and access to public services

Transport for London - Disability Guides

Mayor of London Access Policy

 

 

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H810 Activity 27.4 : Alternative formats

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:49

Read this web page and consider to what extent the six challenges mentioned are addressed in your context:

Mis-Adventures in Alt Format (Stewart, 2007)
http://www.altformat.org/index.asp?id=119&pid=222&ipname=GB

Pick one challenge and write a paragraph in your tutor group wiki explaining how it is relevant to your context.  
____________

Developing a total picture of how Alt Format fits into the broader discussion of curricular reform and modernization will help insure that we do not continue to live on the margins of the educational mainstream. (Stewart, 2007)

'Universal Design for Learning'

Challenges in relation to Alternative Formats:

  1. How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?
  2. How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?
  3. How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?
  4. How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?
  5. How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?
  6. How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

In my context


1) How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?

With the digitization of everything a further step to ensure content is also accessible should be taken at the time of conversation or creation. I’m not aware in an agency where this ever occurs and when there is a client request the response is a simple one - word or PDF formats, or look to the browser of platform where the content will sti.

2) How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?

Is there a more appropriate agent to handle the conversion and delivery of electronic content on a given campus or system of campuses? I’d probably consider the Open University itself, or the Business School where I worked for a while. I know the disability officer, but his role was more to do with access and personnel and visitors to the building then meeting student needs - which I presume comes under Student Services.

3) How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?

Whilst efforts can and have to be made to improve access universally might the fine detail be left to address either group issues by working with representatitives of associations for, for example, the blind, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and other groups ? Learning from then improving such practices and tackling access for people from these groups for specific subjects and specific levels on a strategic basis knowing that complete coverage is the goal?

‘A plan for the development and incorporation of emerging technologies in a holistic and self-sustaining model is incumbent. These emerging systems must be based on flexibility and economies of scale if we are ever going to get in front of the issues of materials access.’ (Stewart, 2007)

4) How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?

Doesn’t cover everyone who would benefit and would benefit other groups, such as non-native language populations, remedial groups and as an alternative for any user who may prefer or benefit from the text record.

5) How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?

In many anecdotal reports, less than 10% of the incoming students to higher education have ever had any realistic exposure to the access technologies they will need to be successful in adult education and in the world of work. (Stewart, 2007)

Current studies suggest the opposite, that students with disabilities who gain so much from having a computer to access resources, that they are digitally literate. There are always people who for all kinds of reasons have had less exposure to or are less familiar with the technology -whether or not they also have a disability.

6) How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

The original authors never have a say or make a contribution to the reversioning of content for use by disabled students.

This method of access often times results in the retrofit of existing materials, or the creation of alternative access methods that are not as efficient or well received in the general classroom environment. (Stewart, 2007)

For a truly effective model to be developed the original curriculum decisions should be made in a context of understanding the needs of all learners, and in particular those learners who do now have visual orientation to the teaching and learning process. (Stewart, 2007)

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Interview analysis revealed five personal factors that appeared to influence students’ decisions about technology use:

  1. a desire to keep things simple,
  2. a lack of DSA awareness,
  3. self-reliance,
  4. IT skills and digital literacy,
  5. a reluctance to make a fuss.

The three most talked about factors were desire to keep things simple, IT skills and digital literacy. Seal and Draffan (2010:455)

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The kind of problems students with disabilities now face are different - less whether content has been made available in a digital format, but how good the tools and services are to access this content.

  • accessibility of websites and course/learning management systems (CMS)
  • accessibility of digital audio and video
  • inflexible time limits built into online exams
  • PowerPoint/data projection during lectures
  • course materials in PDF
  • lack of needed adaptive technologies.

Students also mentioned technical difficulties using e-learning and connecting to websites and CMS, problems downloading and opening files, web pages that would not load, video clips taking too long to download, poor use of e-learning by professors and their own lack of knowledge  working with elearning.

For most groups of students, solving e-learning problems by using non e-learning solutions was also popular.

During the last decade there has been tremendous development and interest in e-learning on campus. While our research shows the many benefits of e-learning, such as the availability of online course notes, there are also problems. Chief among these are problems related to inaccessibility of websites and course management systems. (Fitchen et al 2009:253)

Digital Agility

Results suggest that an important personal resource that disabled students in the study drew on when using technologies to support their studies was their ‘digital agility’. Seal and Draffan (2010:449)

Use of assistive technologies

Many students with disabilities have, since 2007, developed strategies for the use of both specialist assistive technologies (e.g. IrisPro, quill mouse, Kurzweil, Inspiration or Dragon Dictate) as well as more generic technologies (e.g. mobile phone, DS40 digital recorder, Google) Seal and Draffan (2010:450)

Seal and Draffan (2010:451) therefore suggest that disabled students have the kind of ‘sophisticated awareness’ that Creanor et al. (2006) described when they talked about effective learners being prepared to adapt activities, environments and technologies to suit their own circumstances. This contradicts somewhat the arguments of Stewart who argues that disabled students are behind other students in terms of developing digital literacies.

The digital agility of the students, identified in the study, is significant in terms of encouraging practitioners not to view all disabled students as helpless victims of exclusion. Digital inclusion does not always have to be understood through the dual lenses of deficits and barriers. Seal and Draffan (2010:458)

REFERENCE

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & ... Wolforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-Learning Problems and Solutions: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.

Seale,J., Draffan,E.A. (2010) Digital agility and digital decision-making: conceptualising digital inclusion in the context of disabled learners in higer education, Studies in Higher Education, 35:4, 445-461

Stewart, R (2007) Mis-Adventures in Alt Format

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H810 - Evaluating accessibility : e-learning scrutinised

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 12:34

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Fig. 1. Evaluating accessibility - H810

All of this can be multi-layered, more like petals of a rose that a poster-sized mind-map.

It is of course an iterative process too - things get shifted about all the time. Exported as a TEXT document it becomes the first draft of an assignment. At a glance I can see there are 6 or 7 main themes here, though a substantial part of my thinking will be around the ideas of usabilty and accessibility and whether universal design is more appropriate than highly focused user centred design.

I thought I could offer a PDF version here - apparently not. Clicking on it will allow a download that can then been zoomed and should remain legible.

Not an assignment, but can something like this work in a piece of work for evaluation?

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h810 Activity 21.1 Scripting for the visually impaired

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 10 Nov 2012, 06:32

1) Find an example of an online learning resource from your own context that has plenty of visual content that might need to be described for a visually impaired student.

Teaching breaststroke : symmetrical whip kick and glide, arms in front of the shoulders during the pull, head still looking no further than in front of your hands.

Coach Marlins - my swim teaching and coaching blog.

A personal resource, reflection on swimming (masters) and coaching for Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club.  A first step towards creating a mobile resource. Below is an excerpt from a typical morning teaching four groups - three grade groups (4.5.7) typically 7 - 11 year olds) and a disability swimming group of children and adults.

See 'The Swim Drills Books'

The introduction read here : YouTube

Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and play.

WARM UP

  • 3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke

Always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say 'smooth swimming' or 'long legs'. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.

  1. Make sure too that there is a 5m between each swimmer.
  2. 25m of Breaststroke to see what I've got and potentially adjust accordingly.

LEGS

Breastroke%2520breathe%2520kick%2520glide%2520drill%25207.JPG

  • Kick on front with a kicker float.
  • Taking tips from 'The Swim Drill Book'
  • I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in.

The glide is key - this is where to put the emphasis.

  • May start the 'Kick, Pull, Glide' or better 'Kick, Pull, Slide' mantra to get it into their heads.

ARMS

 

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Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away.

  • Will 'describe' the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle.
  • Anything to get them to think about it a little.

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  • I show this as a single action.
  • Other things I might say include 'heart shaped' *(upside down).
  • And making a sound effect 'Bu-dooosh' as I push my arms out.

Breastroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25203.JPG

Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi)

I support by showing images from 'The Swimming Drill Book' on an iPhone or the Kindle

Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):

    • Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
    • Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.

Legs Only Drill (Advanced)

Arms outstretched above the head. No kicker float

  • The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.

2) Use the resources for this activity to help you to decide which visual content needs describing.

  • The objects that need describing might be photos, diagrams, models, animations and so on.

In the resources I was impressed by the clear, logical, analytical description of some of the complex bar charts, flow charts, pie charts and others. This is how all descriptions should be. In 2010 or 2011 the BBC reviewed how weather forecasts were delivered. It was determined that they were far too flowery. A plainer, clearer approach - overview, identified the region, immediate and forecast weather. Move on. Much more like 'The Shipping Forecast' was wanted and worked better. No more 'weather-caster personalities' then. It isn't entertainment, it is information.

3) For those objects that need describing, decide what kind of description would be needed.

'Before beginning to write a description, establish what the image is showing and what the most important aspects are'. UKAAF

'Consider what is important about the photograph in the context of how the image is going to be used, and how much detail is essential'. UKAAF

In swimming, any description of these visuals should emphasise the purpose of the action, the key action in relation to the physics and physiology of the pull, the action in relation to the rules of competitive swimming.

  • Keep it simple
  • Get to the point
  • Choose the right words

4) Choose two visual objects and write a description of each.

Kick without a float. Arm pull practice standing in water or on the side of the pool.

If you can, ask someone who has not seen these visual objects to read your descriptions. Then show them the object and the context. What was their reaction? (If you have online tools to share visual resources, ask another student in your tutor group to do this activity with you.)

5) Which aspects of this task were straightforward?

Knowing that gender is irrelevant. Putting it in context.

6) Which aspects of the task were difficult?

Care not to use terms or metaphors that the swimmer may not be familiar with if they have never seen them.

Reading text on a diagram and wanting to shut my eyes so that I can hear the description without the image. Need to use screen reader or record and play back.

'Remember that blind or partially sighted people cannot skim read, so let them know how long the description is likely to be'. UKAAF

Knowing what to leave out, being confident to leave something out then knowing how to handle it.

'It is important that information provided for sighted people is also made available to blind and partially sighted people, even if the way the information is given is different'. RNIB (2009)

An author should write with a single reader in mind - in this instance while visual impairment is the modus operandi - they are first of all a swimmer or swim teacher/assistant - so the description must be given with this in mind, which in turn defines the writing/editing process of what to put in or what to leave out.

7) What else might have helped you to do it more easily or helped to improve your descriptions?

Physically moving the student athletes arms and legs through the positions. With their consent, allowing a visually impaired swimmer lay the hands on the arms then legs of someone as they go through the movement.

  • An artist's manikin or a jointed doll, male or female action figure,
  • Braille embossed outline.

'However converting a visual graphic to an appropriate tactile graphic is not simply a matter of taking a visual image and making some kind of "tactile photocopy". The tactile sense is considerably less sensitive than the visual sense, and touch works in a more serial manner than vision. Therefore the visual graphic needs to be re-designed to make sense in a tactile form for blind and partial sighted readers'. RNIB (2009)

In some subjects, interpreting an image or diagram could be a key skill that students are expected to learn.

Drill-down organization

Descriptions should follow a drill-down organization, e.g., a brief summary followed by extended description and/or specific data. Drill-down organization allows the reader to either continue reading for more information or stop when they have read all they want.

Keeping this logic rather than imaging the sighted eye skipping about the page, so I imagine I am not allowed to lift the stylus from the screen ... it has to be ine continuous, logical flow. Constructing a narrative would add some logic to it as well.

10) Can descriptions be done in such a way that you are not giving students the answers?

This was an interesting and relevant point regarding humorous cartoons 'Cartoons and comic strips need to be described if necessary. Set the scene of the cartoon without giving away the joke Provide a brief overview of the image.'

The same therefore applies to 'giving the answer' - treat it as the punch line but leave it out. and like a quiz book say, 'answers on page x'.

11) What do you think your strategy would be if you can’t find a way to give a description without compromising the learning outcomes?

Script differently - this is after all a different audience - and all students are ultimately an audience of one. Perhaps all resources will become highly personalised in future?

12) How can providing descriptions be included in the workflow process of delivering an online module? (This was touched on in the discussion for Activity 17.3.)

  • I liked this quotation:

"When organisations send me information in formats that I can read myself it allows me to be independent, feel informed and appreciated - just like every other customer." End-user UKAAF

From Describing images 2: Charts and graphs

  • Definition of print disability
  • A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.

REFERENCE

RNIB Tactile Images : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx

RNIB Image Descriptions : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/imagedescriptions/Pages/image_descriptions.aspx

Gould, B., O’Connell, T. and Freed, G. (2008) Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books [online], National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), http://ncam.wgbh.org/ experience_learn/ educational_media/ stemdx (last accessed 10 November 2012).

UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) (undated) Formats and Guidance: Accessible Images [online], http://www.ukaaf.org/ formats-and-guidance#accessible (last accessed 10 November 2012).

University of Aberdeen (undated) Keep It Simple [online], http://www.abdn.ac.uk/ eLearning/ accessibility/ checklist/ keep-it-simple/ (last accessed 10 November 2012).

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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

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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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H810 Activity 15.1 Assistive Technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 10:55

20121022-102631.jpg

Fig.1 Assitive technologies to improve access to e-learning

There are a myriad of hardware and software tools that alongside other assistive technologies a disabled person may use to improve access to learning. As part of the MA in Open and Distance Educaiton (MAODE) module H810 Accessible Online Learning : Supporting Disabled Students we are reviewing the widest range of circumstances and tools - and MBA like applying these to our own contexts.

When I started this course I did wonder if it couldn't be covered in a weekend residential – boy am I mistaken.

So much so that I think it should be a 60 pointer over several more months.

If we can remember back to the Paralympics just think of the vast scale and variety of access issues these athletes had, then add cognitive impairments for which the Olympics are unable to cater - then think of any impairment as a position on a spectrum that includes us - our vision, our hearing, our mobility and cognitive skills are on here somewhere too. Indeed, there are tools that come out of assistive technology that have value to all of us, from automatic captioning, tagging and transcription of video, to screens over which we have greater control. Here area few I picked out:

HEAD POINTERS

20121022-100855.jpg

Head pointers need to suit the precise needs, wishes and expectations of the user and may be used in conjunction with other tools and software. A sophisticated package such as TrackerPro costs £1,288 and includes head, visor and shoulder kit, a tracking webcame and software. At this level it can be used to engage with computer games, as well as to use packages designed to suit the users other needs in relation to visual and audio impairment. These packages are supported by assessors.

KEYBOARDS

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Keyboards come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, textures and colours, with various overlays and supporting software for single hand or head pointer use too.

Integrated with screens, wheelchair, hardware and software a market leader for people with considerable mobile impairment, voice and sight impairment such as DynaVox Vmax will cost £9,000. There is considerable online support, with videos too. Setting up and support from an assessor is provided.

Beyond the tools provided with the operating system or browsers which will magnify images to a reasonable degree, there are software bundles such iZoom (PC) £321 and VisioVoice (MAC) £232 with a far greater level of sophistication and adjustment to suit users with sight impairments, dyslexia and mobility requirements. Working with a variety of inputting devices this allows the user to make many kinds of adjustments to the way information is displayed.

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H810 Activity 14.1 Using assistive technology - reflection on access to learning through acccess to work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 21 Oct 2012, 14:42


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Fig.1 From 'Access to work' a video from MicroLink

Any of us could or will stumble the first time we are faced with a new tool or piece of software - I'd like to see any of us tested using a tool such as Delicious or ScoopIt and see how we get on, or trying to use a Microwriter, programme the washing machine or even turn on someone else's Microwave.

All experiences become familiar in time if we give them a go or get some useful tips. The same implies whether or not you have a disability or combination of disabilities or not.

To make sense of the plethora of accessibility tools, software and built-in 'assists' - and the equally enormous combinations and varieties of people who may benefit from using them I am having to get into my minds eye four people, or 'personas' who have quite different needs and imagine them, in context, wanting to and trying to use tools that ought to improve access for them. Some intriguingly are likely to suit all users if they offer a short cut or a different way into the information - I prefer a transcript over lectures. I like to use narrator in the car or when busy with some other task like painting the shed - the book is read to me as I can't do what I am doing and look at the screen at the same time. I call this the 'Montesori Effect' - how meeting a learning challenge for one community of learners you gain insights and create tools that benefit everyone.

As for any of us, when it comes to learning, context is important whether we have the space, time, kit and inclination. There is a big difference between giving something a go and having to use it with a set goal in mind. Anyone remember the first time they had to create something using PowerPoint, or Word come to think of it? Or writing a blog - let alone embedding images, video or audio.

Some of this reminds me of my first computer - an Amstrad. All green text and no mouse. My father got himself a Microwriter and mastered it. Bizarre. Confined to a wheelchair (badly broken leg from skiing) for some months in my early teens I ought to have been able to keep up with school work - but somehow a box of books didn't do it for me.

When I get stuck I can now turn to a son, daughter or my wife who may or may not be able to help. We also pick up the phone to 'The Lewes Computer Guy' for technical fixes. Had I a disability how likely is it that I can turn to someone with the very same set of challenges that I face for tips and advice? On some context a blind person will and can turn to a supportive community, but this might not be so easy if you are, or feel like, the only person with Dyslexia or Cerebral Palsy at your schoolor university.

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New blog post

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Check out this video on YouTube:

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

| was introduced to Francesca Martinez performing on the stand-up comedy circuit by The OU as we are currently doing a module on accessibility to e-learning. Francesca has cerebral palsy - she doesn't let that get in her way. Her brand of sit-down stand-up comedy is infecticious, revealing and timely.

Catch the Saturday 6th September edition of 'The News Quiz'.

Knowing a number of young people with cerebral palsy I know to be more attentive - just because, to varying degrees, they may struggle to get their words out, does not mean they don't have something to say. The other lesson is to be open, to be frank - you have to ask openly with them what they can or cannot do, or would like to do or overcome. Even if I had some professional knowledge of a range of disabilities it will still be necessary to discuss with the individual where they stand - something that may shift week on week, in their favour after operations or against if the disease is degenerative. The difference here compared to the general population is accommodation rather than indulgence - it puts into sharp perspective the young person or parent of a young person who pushes and stretches the bounds of indulgence forgetting that life of necessity includes compromise, and give as well as take.

The barriers to this are time, numbers and comprehension - as well as any inherent risks in relation to the learning environment. As a 'lead educator' - a teacher or coach, you have to respond to the current situation as it unfolds. It helps to have some sense of who the people are, to know where their individual strengths and weaknesses lie.

If time is one issue, then make more time as a result if preparation, even arrange to meet some students earlier if this is possible so that you can fit in a quick word with them.

If numbers are an issue then be slick with registarations, insist on people turning up in good time and if necessary stagger the start - in some situations an assistant or parent should help out, to guide one person or to pick up on some tasks (the issue here is where a young person is very concsciously trying to be more independent). If comprehension and communication are an issue, then do the above - give it more time and find ways to cope with the numbers, then be open and accommodating, use common sense to find or be told the best way to communicate - ideally therefore have some kind of hand-over where you can be introduced to the best way forward. Returning to Francesca Martinez - she held her own and deserved to be on the show - she is funy and spontaneous, blunt and entertaining. She can only be judged on these qualities in this context - access means removing or alleviating barriers to get onto such a stage, it does not mean changing the height if the bar, just as an undergraduate with a disabilitiy starting in higher education having got to this level has to be judged by how they perform, assessed or judged at the same level as other undergraduates. In relation to e-learning this means creating access where there is a barrier, while maintaining standards when it comes to assessment and awarding qualifications.

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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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Crisis vs statis in learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 1 Oct 2012, 11:28

We are this nation, this community as a consequence of crisis set on an island (or two or more).

Mess in a bubble. Historically change has been elastic and ultimately plural and accommodating. In relation to my current module H810, we are currently looking at 'reasonable adjustements' that institutions and employers should make for people with disabilities.

There's just so much tweaking you can do.

I'd like to see a greenfield campus, along the lines of the Olympic Village reconfigured for the Paralympics. Take a venue for wheelchair basketball and turn it into a lecture hall - only then can you reasonably cater for students, personal assistants and note takers and support for the lecturer to provide alternative versions of their slides and notes. They had better be good. Release it as a TED lecture too.

My criticism of the schooling I had was that, like a sausage machine its modus operandi was to cut me into a shape that they required during schooling and expected as an outcome - with parents in cahoots. There was never room for anything but the mildest of disabilities and even here asthmatic, hearing and learning difficulties were, at best tolerated, at worst a label that staff and pupils used to set this person apart as an 'alien'.

There is a need to accommodate differences, the uniqueness of each of us and how to develop the best from each person without dogma or coralling everyone down the same path.

Across education institutions need to see parents and students as customers or clients, who directly or indirectly are paying for the good or poor service they recieve in equal measure. Far more effort by people needs to be put into listening and ubderstanding in an informed and educated way.

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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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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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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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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 in a word

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Sep 2012, 18:29

Open

Access denied or access required implies there are barriers: closed doors, steps, text, voice, tools that require ten finger dexterity and so on. Open, in a spiritual sense, requires us all to be part of an omnipresent ether.

Alone

We are each unique, indivual and alone. Anything else is a label, catergory, sub-category or grouping defined by others to simplify their or our collective perspective with every kind of bias attached.

The level playing field can never be level enough. A new and better metaphor is required if it is to imply that everyone has an equal and fair chance.

Any suggestions?

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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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