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H810 Accessibility and equality

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Sep 2012, 14:55

Given the start of the Paralympic Games last night it is hardly surprising that disability is a topic or theme on TV, the radio and in the press. Even the Simpsons' satire yesterday evening - the one where the school is split into girls and boys and Liza dresses up as a boy and becomes the object of bullies - had a powerful message regarding equality. It should be about seeing the strength while not ignoring the 'weakness', but accommodating or compensating for it, that it is the lack of x, y or z that makes the disability more of an issue that it needs to be.

Is it just about money?

It took a Paralympian wheelchair basketball player to point out how countries that hadn't the provision of the richer economies had older, clunkier, heavier wheelchairs.

I watched a piece of theatre for deaf people by deaf people. It reminded me of comia del arte - highly physical and rumbustious. I hadn't the slightest clue what was going on, certainly no idea what was being said. Had I someone twlking it through how different would the experience have been.

How do the movies portray disability? From Richard III and Frankenstein, to Finding Nemo, Slum Dog Millionaire and Avatar. Even Dr Who where Darleks, and certainly Davros, are disabled beings in wheelchairs with a wheelie bin, plunger and egg- whisk for limbs.

It takes being ill, of confined to a bed or wheelchair to get some sense if it, or having a close relation, infant or elderly in a state, or phase of amelioration or deterioration to feel it personally. I broke a leg badly enough and far enough away from home to require amabulances and special flights, hospitalisation then a wheelchair. For some months in order to get into the garden I pulled myself about quite happily on a large wooden tea-tray. We knew it was temporary, indeed within six months I was riding a bike and walking with a stick and six months after that competing in the swimming pool and on the rugby pitch - wherein lies a stark difference, the disabled person is very likely to be set inspite or despite of treatment and how the disability came about, indeed their situation is likely to be more complex with medications, care, a deteriorating prognosis even.

There is mental illness and disability in the family too - depression, learning difficulties, aspergers and autism. I'd even dare to say that being exceptionally bright or that ridiculously isolating term 'gifted' in the case of my late father isolated him.

If we wish for inclusivity when will the Olympics and Paralympics play out simultaneously?

Perhaps at a club level I should suggest that once a year we do this - having an inclusive event in contrast to the other exclusive events we run or take part in.

As I reflect I need of course to bring it back to H810.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) runs a workshop for coaches who work with disabled athletes - there is an online module too which I will sign up for. Annually we apply for a national award called Swim21 which includes an audit in relation to disabled swimmers - we ticked every box without question with qualified personal, watertime set aside, entry into internal and external galas and working with our local leisure providers but is this enough? If the bar isn't that high no wonder it is easy to get over.

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Design Museum

H810: Accessibility

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Aug 2012, 08:46

Past experience tells me that being able to apply daily practice to the module is helpful. I've not been in this position for 3 of the 4 modules I have so far completed, however, for H810 I not only find myself working for an e-learning agency, but had a long discussion today about accessibility in relation to the e-learning we produce for one of our clients. The problem surrounds Flash and video - how best to make such interactive content accessible. The simple answer is a word document, or possibly a reversioned earlier expression of the module in PowerPoint. Screenreaders don't cope well with complex interactivities, which sometimes aren't even chronological being more of a 'journey of discovery'.

There needs to be an understanding of the needs of disabled learners so that this is written into the brief and the right kind of accommodations are made - if only to allow readily available software to do their job zooming frames, adjusting backgrounds and fonts to make them easier to read for dyslexia or partially sighted, while making the job of a screen reader easier for those with more severe sight disabilities.

At some point their is surely an inevitable compromise between the requirements of the DDA, the needs and expectations of the client (in relation to their mission or brand too) and cost.

Images

  • Those with a learning purpose require description.
  • Those for visual effect probably do not
  • Charts that are integral to the learning require description.

Are pages compatible with industry standard software such as JAWS?

Keep it simple

  • Word

Decades ago working in linear video we brought in a presenter who would sign in front of a blue screen (later green, these days possibly just a white infinity curve) while the projected the video played through.

Supporting workbooks could be offered in various forms.

A facilitator would be on hand - the learning was blended.

The best chance of getting it right is when the audience is primarily a distinct disability group form whom the project can be tailored and certainly seeking their expert input.

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H800 68 Activity 4a: UK students and the Net Generation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 14 May 2011, 16:51

Read Selwyn (2008) ‘An investigation of differences in undergraduates’ academic use of the internet’.

As you read make notes about the differences and divisions he finds between students. Like Kennedy et al. (2008), Selwyn identifies a minority of students who are not fully engaged with new technologies.

What implications do you think this might have for designing learning environments that make use of new technologies?

Write a short posting setting out your thoughts on Selwyn’s article and the question raised in the previous bullet point.

  • Wider Interent Use
  • Access
  • Expertise
  • Year of study
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Ethnic Background
  • Educational background

These are the variables going into the survey.

Why not asked 'what do you parents do?'

Children see you using the technology at home what are they likely to want to do? Even if your parents are together ... if you are looking after dependents and so on.

There are many reasons that are deep beneath the surface that require a lengthier approach to uncover.

All of these are assumptions going into the survey, which is why for the social sciences I far prefer in depth qualitative research rather than what can be shallow quantitative research that cannot cater for the questions that isn't asked i.e. open questions to winkled out the evidence, rather than number crunching through a set of initial assumptions.

There is not, nor was there ever a 'generation Y' or 'digital natives'.

Reasons identified for differences in attitude and skills using the technology:

  • reliability of access
  • cost
  • 'Digital choice' rather than 'digital divide'
  • perceptions of usefullness
  • ease of use
  • other psychological attitudes (Chung and Huang, 2005; Hong et al, 2003; Joiner et al, 2006)
  • not just access, but whether public or private (Hassania, 2006)
  • nature of institutional and faculty support (a postive or negative factor) (Eynon, 2005)

Significance of being a novice or expert at surfing ... simply put, you either know your stuff or you don't. ANd even more significant those who had PRIVATE access to a computer i.e. there is a need to learn alone in your own time at your own pace.

I liken it to two people joining a youth orchestra for the first time.

One student can neither play an instrument yet, or owns one; while the other student has not only played their instrument for some time, but they own it.

Should we be unsurprised, and even pleased that there were no significant differences in terms of students' ethnic background, age, year of study or educational background (in terms of A'level grades).

Here's a challenge ... you present the entire cohort with a device that non have them used before. Even here you'd find, surely, those who take the challenge and conquer it quickly, while others struggle?

Where does personality or aptitude for certain things come into any of this?

The truth is that the authors who believe there is a Net Generation or Google Generation (many don't, they just use it in the headline to get your attention) fail to acknowledge the extraordinary variety and complexity of human nature and the myriad of circumstances that result in the person who finds themselves presenting themselves on day one to an undergraduate, postgraduate or any kind of course.

The differences between disciplines is interesting ... but is it the discipline per se, or the calibre and kinds of learning designers, or the nature of the content .. or the investment in them. The idea that those studying architecture may have been making less use of these technologies surprised me.

Lessons learnt?

A distinct minority need support

Do you concentrate on the 'bright young things' who may excel if they get your special attention, or those who struggle. The professional thing has to be that each receives the same degree of attention, though it will be different for each person.

Play to people's strengths, not their weaknesses.

And treat them as individuals, never a cohort, and certainly don't be so patronising as to treat them as a generation.

The evidence that there is a divide between male and females in relation to using the Internet for content research surprised me.

The call for further research is a given; in a commercial enterprise you have to keep your eye on the ball always. Those who are best at predicting the future all less likely to fall victim to fads and shifts; I daresay they also build a long term following.

 

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What's the point in giving someone a nip when you can use a sledge-hammer?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Oct 2010, 13:18

This is to do with e-tools. The hammer is some gargantuan piece of software that tries to do everything (and might), or that quirky Open Source tool you've come across that does one thing brilliantly.

The reality we need a bit of both. But which bits?

Sometimes I find software (and hardware) to be like unwanted flotsam and jetsam on a shore. You want someone to go in and clean up the mess. Perhaps the likes of Google and Facebook and of course Microsoft do this - they offer you a one-stop shop for everything in return to cash, you mind, or your wallet (or all three).

Then you find a gem or too that for a while become a vital part of the way you do things.

It's a messy business.

I liken this to the development of the automobile on speed.

The big players and small players, the manufacturers and the person in their garage, battle it out for our attention.

Increasingly we, the punter, will rely on brand names. I'm guilty of liking all things Google (to a degree), but loathing all things Microsoft (too empirical and geeky ... maybe Google's going this way). I'm not into Facebook because I was happy with the forerunners and in truth find little use for it.

It is certain however that IT skills should be placed alongside the three Rs. People need IT, unless they are too young (or too old). Or ... given the access issues (cost, Internet access) too poor.

The have's vs the have-nots, the north/south, east/west divide is not one of cash, but of access to IT.

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