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H810 Activity 27.1 What would you change about the way in which students are supported in your institution and why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012, 10:52

What would you change about the way in which students are supported in your institution and why?

At least four post-secondary groupings have a stake in accessibility and e-learning in colleges and universities:

  1. students
  2. service providers
  3. professors
  4. the e-learning professionals on campus.

All four groups indicated, via online questionnaires, problems with:

  • 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.

Common%2520problems%2520and%2520solutions%2520for%2520students%2520with%2520disabilities%2520Fitchen%25202009.JPG

Fig.1. Fitchen et al (2009) Table 5

When it comes to e-learning problems and solutions the nature of students' disabilities and impairments can have an important impact. Therefore, in Table 5 we present the most common problems and solutions for students with different disabilities.


This shows that the most popular solution for students with all types of disabilities is unresolved.

For most groups of students, solving e-learning problems by using non e-learning solutions was also popular. In addition to the common problems of inaccessibility of websites and course management systems and technical difficulties, which seem to pose problems for students regardless of the nature of their disability, students with learning disabilities and students with mobility impairments and arm/hand issues also had problems due to their lack of knowledge about how to use e-learning effectively. Students with psychiatric and with health issues noted problems due to poor use of e-learning by professors. Students with hearing impairments, not surprisingly, had problems related to the accessibility of audio and video materials. Students with visual impairments had problems related to the accessibility of course notes and materials, especially those in PDF. When their problem had a solution it was through non e-learning solutions, such as having someone read the materials aloud to them or through alternative formats or using adaptive technologies. (Fichten et al 2009:249)

Recommendations

Training

One means of addressing problems involving inaccessibility of websites and course management systems, of elearning broadly, and of specific materials, such as course notes and audio and video clips is through training of professors. Many colleges and universities already offer training on how to integrate e-learning in teaching and on how to use specific e-learning tools. (Fichten et al 2009:253)

REFERENCE

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.


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The purpose of education ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 20:09

"The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into useable knowledge.Decades of cognitive science research have demonstrated that the capability to transform accessible information into useable knowledge is not a passive process but an active one". CAST (2011)

Constructing useable knowledge, knowledge that is accessible for future decision-making, depends not upon merely perceiving information, but upon active “information processing skills” like selective attending, integrating new information with prior knowledge, strategic categorization, and active memorization.Individuals differ greatly in their skills in information processing and in their access to prior knowledge through which they can assimilate new information. CAST (2011)

Proper design and presentation of information – the responsibility of any curriculum or instructional methodology - can provide the scaffolds necessary to ensure that all learners have access to knowledge. CAST (2011)

I recommend the last link in its entirety above most that I have reviewed. It is a resource, It is succinct. It is practical. It respects the fact that all students come to this kind of learning with a set of experiences and skills - and tactics and tools that work for them. Why make someone play the tuba when they play the harp perfectly well? A metaphor worth developing I wonder in relation learning to play an instrument, read music, pass theory tests, perform solo or in an ensemble, to sight read etc:

Do you recall the paraorchestra performing with Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics who represented the widest range and degree of disability? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/01/orchestra-disabled-people-play-paralympics

Guidelines

  • Provide options for perception
  • Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
  • Provide options for comprehension

Checkpoints

  • Offer ways of customizing the display of information
  • Offer alternatives for auditory information
  • Offer alternatives for visual information
  • Support decoding text, mathematical notation, and symbols
  • Clarify vocabulary and symbols
  • Clarify syntax and structure
  • Promote understanding across languages
  • Illustrate through multiple media

REFERENCE

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle1#principle1_g3

National Center On Universal Design for Learning

Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle1#principle1_g3

NATIONAL CENTER ON UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING, AT CAST
40 HARVARD MILLS SQUARE, SUITE 3, WAKEFIELD, MA 01880-3233
TEL (781) 245-2212, EMAIL UDLCENTER@UDLCENTER.ORG

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H810 : Activity 26 Designing and developing accessible e-learning experiences: the learning technologist’s perspective.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:42

Designing and developing accessible e-learning experiences: the learning technologist’s perspective.

  1. There is a debate surrounding who is responsible (or most responsible) for accessibility. How helpful is this debate in ensuring that people working in post-16 education change their practices?

    If those with technical skills, such as learning technologists, are not ultimately or solely responsible for ensuring accessibility, what responsibilities do you think they should have and why?

  2. On pages 82–83, Seale uses an archaeology metaphor to try to encourage learning technologists to dig deeper beneath the surface of accessibility guidelines and standards. This is intended to develop a greater understanding of approaches to accessible design. How helpful do you think this metaphor is?

    'Using archaeology as a metaphor, it can be argued that accessibility legislation, guidelines, standards and evaluation tools are not the most helpful or informative place to start. The legislation, guidelines, standards and tools are merely archaeological artefacts that have been scattered on the surface of a significant archaeological site'. Seal 2006:83

    This doesn't work for me. It doesn't ring true to the metaphor. a) Archeology implies something ancient and long buried whereas these guidelines are 'scatterd on the surface' like rubbish dropped at a later stage. The rules and regulations are recent and changing, both in what is said, how interpretted, executed and policed.

    Can you think of an alternative metaphor, image, analogy or visualisation that could be used to help develop learning technologists’ thinking in this area?

    Not only is collaboration in learning coming of age it needs to happen in practice, as increasingly it does in industry. There continues to be a good deal of resistance in higher education, partly this is because of how academics in particular came into managerial positions - if they are. My experience of most academics is that either they want to be left alone to do research, or they want to be left alone with their students - they didn't chose to 'go into business' or join the 'real world' because of the stresses in relation to managing tasks such as this and working in a team where they might not be top dog. It would help enormously if those in Higher Education could spend some time working in business and to take these models and employ them on in their department of faculty. For a start, take on roles such as project manager, learning designer, lead programmer, art director, author and so on. Then find a metphor that works for everyone that evokes both team work and organic growth. A rock band works for me - I resist the orchestra analogy as it is such a cliche and leads to some people wanting to be the conductor or composer. A theatre troupe might be the thing. Or a circus act! But all performing together and dependent on each other. Academics in particular most stop behaving like premadonnas - 'out here' they are the 'subject matter expert' - less than a writer, just a conduit for knowledge, a talking and responsive version of information that is readily available online anyway. i.e they can be a hinderance. Perhaps the metaphor I would use, which is close to the reality of creating interactive content - would be a film production unit where there are specialists skills, and a hierarchy: executive producer, producer, line producer, director, first assistant director, camera operator, sound engineer, actor 1, actor 2, script writer, script continuity, art director, props, costume ... editor, publicity and so on. One weak link and the entire project might fail.

    As it has currency in learning and e-learning circles an even better metaphor might be that of an architect's studio given the way in which e-learning has to be designed, constructed in a programmer, shared, adjusted, tested, built, tested again, added to with various layers from foundations to walls, pluimbing and electrics, then internal and external decor and furnishings. Christopher Alexander's 1970 book 'The Timeless Building' which he developed into a methodolgy for computer software design is often cited.

  3. On page 98 Seale discusses the tensions regarding the use of technical tools versus human judgement to evaluate the accessibility of learning resources. What is your position concerning this issue? Can we trust human judgement? If so, whose judgement should we trust – learning technologists working within educational organisations or external experts?

We have to trust human judgement, which includes the decission to expect the technology to provide the answers, or do the donkey work. Instead of relying on one piece of software to come up with a myriad of answers that to the uninitiated can look like some task set by a wicked wizard in a fairy tale. I'm in favour of having a large and diverse testing team drawn from a community of learners, including of course those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments - to offer opions - as we have reviewers and editors in things like Wikipedia. i.e. use the power of the numbers online rather than simply the power of a piece of software.

Make brief notes in response to these questions. Your notes should reflect your own context. You can do this as bullet points or just a sentence or two about each question.

Choose one of your answers and post it for discussion in your tutor group forum. If you disagree with Seale about any of the points in this chapter, you could also discuss this in the forum.

2 HOURS

 

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Who are the leading learning theorists and schools of thought?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 05:15

LEADERS  IN LEARNING:

Donald Clark offers a list of 50 learning theorists

I've been +adding to it. Who are we missing?

GREEKS
Socrates
Plato
Aristotle
RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Jesus
Mohammed
+ Confucius
ENLIGHTENMENT
Locke
+Hobbes
Rousseau
Wollstonecraft
+ Hagel
+ Machiavelli
PRAGMATISTS
James
Dewey
MARXISTS
Marx
Gramsci
Althusser
BEHAVIOURISTS
Pavlov
Skinner
Bandura
CONSTRUCTIVISTS
Piaget
Bruner
Vygotsky
+Engestrom
HUMANISTS
Maslow
Rogers
Illich
Gardener
SCHOOLS
Montessori
Friere
Steiner
John Seely Brown
+ Christopher Alexander
+ Donald Schon
+ Rogers
INSTRUCTIONALISTS
Ebbinghaus
Harris
Mazur
Black & William
E-LEARNING
Jay Cross
Martin Weller
Grainne Conole
Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
Jilly Salmon
Helen Beetham
Rhona Sharpe
Chris Pegler
Jane Seale

TECHNOLOGY ANALYSTS
McLuhan
Postman
Schank
Kelly
Shirky
GAMES
Prensky (NO!)
Gee
USABILITY &EVALUATION
Norman
Nielsen
Krug
MEDIA & DESIGN
Mayer & Clark
Reeves & Nass
INFORMAL LEARNING
Csikszentmihalyi
Cross
Zuckerburg ?!
INTERNET LEARNING
Page & Brin
Bezos ?!
Hurley & Chen
INTERNET CONTENT
Sperling
Wales
Khan
OPEN SOURCE
Torvalds
Moodle guy
+ Wiki
+ MOOC
+ WordPress
TRAINING
Bloom
Biggs
Bateson
Belbin
Mager
Gagne
Kolb
Kirkpatrick

Please offer suggestions to add or delete ...

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Xerte follow up - software that promises a good deal but doesn't always deliver

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012, 07:26

My background is corporate communications where our projects are produced by a team - in advertising an art director works with a copywriter, in web design we added a programmer and for e-learning we added a learning designer and subject matter expert - in education the teacher or tutor is this subject matter expert and at the most senior level is expected to do it all themselves.

I don't get this at all - we know that people have different strengths and weaknesses. There is a particular divide betgween those who can write and those who can visualise, between the author and illustrator, the copywriter and art director.

The result from too many teachers and tutors is either little online presence or a blog, sometimes a power point presentation.

I find resistance and unwillingness repeatedly and have sympathy because they should not be expected to do much other than be brilliant exponents of their subject.

They are rarely good at visuslisation or narrative, have had no training on use of slides so pack 'em full of words or irrelevant clip art and by habit write blog posts that are too long, too dense and too late. They hate to let go of their idea - it is theirs and no one else may touch or influence their brilliant conceptions.

I've given Xerte a go.

I have many users in mind for the content that only it can deliver - but in my case I know when I am stumped and if it feels like I'm having to conjugate verbs in Latin I'll go and find someone who can make it sing.

On my list of tools that promise a lot but fail, Xerte may escape this category for now, I inlcude Elluminate, Compendium, MyStuff and Cloudworks and Social Learn. They all have something in common.

I'll give Xerte another go as I see what I can deliver in terms of access. But as an e-learning platform it is slide show.

Clive Shepherd

On the pros and cons of being both the subject matter expert and the learning designer

http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/do-instructional-designers-need-to-know.html

 

 

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H810 Open University Disability Conference 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Aug 2013, 07:02

Open University Disability Conference 2012

Edited by Christopher Douce, 19 November, 18:27
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On 14 November 2012 I attended the Open University Disability Conference held at a conference centre close to the university.  The last time I attended this event was back in 2010.   I wrote a summary of the 2010 conference which might be useful to some (I should add that I've had to mess around a bit to get a link to this earlier summary and there is a possibility that this link might go to different posts since I can't quite figure out how to get a permalink, but that's a side issue...)

The conference was a two day event but due to other things I had to be getting on with I could only attend one of the days.  From my experience of the first conference, the second day tends to be quite dramatic (and this year proved to be no exception).

The legacy of the Paralympics

Julie Young from Disabled Student Services kicked off the day by introducing Tony O'Shea-Poon, head of equality and diversity.  Tony gave a presentation entitled 'A lot can change in 64 years' which described the history of the Paralympic games whilst at the same time putting the games into the context of disability equality.

During the Paralympics I remember a television drama that presented the origins of the games.  Tony reminded us that it began in 1948 at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  The first ever Paralympic games (with the 'para' meaning 'alongside') taking place in Rome in 1960.

One of the striking aspects of Tony's presentation is that it was presented in terms of 'forces'; forces which have increased the awareness of issues that impact upon the lives of people with disabilities.  Relating back to the origins of the games, one force is the allies of people with disabilities.  There is also the role that role models can play, particularly in popular media.

Two other forces include disabled peoples involvement and the disability rights movement.  Tony spoke about something that I had not known of before.  During the late 1980s I remember a number of public 'telethon' events - extended TV shows that aimed to raise money for charitable causes.  In 1992 there was a campaign to 'block telethon'.  This is a message that people with disabilities should have rights, not charity.  This connects with a movement away from a more historic medical and charity model of disability to a social model where people with disabilities should have an equal rights and opportunities within society. Tony also mentioned the importance of legislation, particularly the disability rights commission, explicitly mentioning role of Sir Bert Massie.

Tony brought us to the present day, emphasising not only recent successes (such as the Paralympic games), but also current challenges; Tony drew our attention to protests in August of this year by disabled people against government cuts.   Legitimate protest is considered to be another force that can facilitate change.

Deb Criddle: Paralympian

Jane Swindells from the university disability advisory service introduced Deb Criddle (Wikipedia), paralympian gold and silver medallist.  Deb gained one gold medal and two silver medals in London 2012, as well as gaining gold medals in Athens.

This part of the day took the form of a question and answer session, with Jane asking the first questions.  Deb reflected on the recent Paralympic games and described her personal experiences.  One of the key points that Deb made was that it was great that the games focussed people's attention on abilities and not disabilities.  It also had the effect of the making disability more normalised.

One thing that I remember from living in London at the time of the Olympics and Paralympics is that people were more open to talking to each other.  Deb gave us an anecdote that the games created opportunities for conversations (about and with people with disabilities) which wouldn't have otherwise happened.

Deb said that she 'wasn't expecting the support we had'.  On the subject of support she also made an important point that the facilities and support services that are available within the UK are very different to the facilities that are available in other countries.  At the time of the Paralympics I remember reading stories in the London Metro (the free newspaper that is available ever week day morning) about campaigners who were trying to obtain equipment and resources for some of the competitors.

Deb also shared with us aspects of her personal story.  She said that through accident and circumstance led to opportunities, journeys, growth and amazing experiences.  What was once a passing interest (in equestrianism) became a central interest.  Deb also spoke about the challenge of confronting a disability.  One of Deb's phrases strongly resonated with me (as someone who has an unseen disability), which was, 'I hadn't learnt to laugh at myself'.

Deb is also an OU student.  She studied at the same time as training.  Deb said, 'study gives you something else to focus on... trying too hard prevents you to achieving what you need to [achieve], it is a distraction in a sense'.  She also emphasised the point that study is can often be hard work.

I've made a note of a final phrase of Deb's (which probably isn't word for word) which is certainly worth repeating; its message is very clear: 'please don't be overwhelmed by people with disability; people coming together [in partnership] can achieve', and also, 'take time to engage with people, you can learn from their stories, everyone is different'.

Workshops

Throughout the conference there were a couple of workshops, a number of which were happening in parallel.  I was only able to attend one of them.  The one I chose was entitled 'Asperger's syndrome: supporting students through timely interventions', facilitated by Martina Carroll.  The emphasis on this workshop was about providing information to delegates and I've done my best to summarise the key points that I picked up.

The first point was that people who may have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome can be very different; you can't (and shouldn't) generalise about the abilities of someone who may have a diagnosis.

The workshop touched upon the history of the syndrome.  Martina mentioned Leo Kanner (Wikipedia) who translated some work by Hans Asperger.  Asperger's is understood as a developmental disorder that has a genetic basis (i.e. highly heritable). Martina mentioned a triad of impairments: communication difficulties (both expressive and receptive), potential difficulties with social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours.  A diagnosis will be considered to have two out of the three potential impairments.

Martina also touched upon that some people can have exceptional skills, such as skills in memory and mathematics, but again, it is important to remember that everyone is different.  Due to the nature of the triad of impairments, co-existing conditions need to be considered, such as such as stress, anxiety and depression.

A final question is what accommodations can be made for people who have autism? TEACCH (Wikipedia) was mentioned, which is an educational model for schools which has the potential to offer some useful guidance.  One key point is that providing learning materials that have a clearly defined structure (such as the module calendar) can certainly help everyone.

Towards the end of the session, there was some time for group discussions.  The group that I was (randomly) assigned to discussed the challenges of group work, how important it was to try to facilitate constant communication between different people (which include mentors and advocates) and challenges surrounding examinations and assessment.

There are a number of resources that were mentioned that may be useful.  I didn't know this, but the Open University runs a module entitledUnderstanding the autism spectrum (OU website). The module is centred around a book by Ilona Roth called Autism in the 21st Century (publishers website).  Another resource is Francesca Happe's Lecture at the Royal Society, entitled When will we understand Autistic Spectrum Disorders? (Royal Society website) I really recommend this lecture - it is very easy to follow and connects very strongly with the themes of the workshop.  There is also theNational Autistic Society website, which might also be useful.

Performance

The final part of the day was very different.  We were introduced to three stand-up comics.  These comics were not disabled comics, they were comics who just happened to incidentally have a disability.  Comedy has the ability to challenge; it allows others to see and understand instances of people's lives in a warm and undeniably human way.  The 'something' that we all have in common with each other is an ability to laugh.  When you laugh at a situation that is tough and challenging and begin to appreciate the absurdity and richness of life. Tough situations don't seem as difficult anymore; laughter gives you a power to rise above a situation.  In a way, the conference reflects this since it was all about sharing experience with a view to empowering and helping people.

The comics were Steve Day, Liam O'Caroll and Lawrence Clark.  All were fabulous, but I especially enjoyed Lawrence's set which I understand was a show that he took to the Edinburgh Festival.  His set had a theme based on the word 'inspiring'; he successfully sent himself up, along with others who may be inclined to use that word.

Reflections

Julie Young closed the conference by emphasising some of the themes that were explored through the conference.   Julie emphasised the importance of working together to deliver a service for our students and how this is connected with equality and rights.  A key point is that the abilities our students are what really matters.  Julie went on to emphasise the continued need to listen attentively to those who we serve.

With conferences that have multiple parallel sessions you can sometimes feel that you're missing out on something, which is always a shame.  During the lunch break, I heard how other delegates had appreciated hearing from students talking about their experiences of studying at the Open University.  Personal stories allow people to directly connect with the challenges and difficulties that people face, and whilst on one hand there may be successes, there are other situations in which we don't do the best that we can or support for people doesn't arrive on time.  Conferences such as these emphasise the importance of keeping our attention on students with disability whilst at the same time emphasising that different departments of the university need to talk to each other to ensure that we can offer the best possible support.  Talking also permits us to learn more about what we can do to change things, so meetings such as these are invaluable.

I also have a recollection from the previous conference I attended.  I remember talking to someone (I'm not sure who this was) who seemed to express surprise that I was from a 'faculty' (i.e. an academic) as opposed to a part of the university that was directly involved in support of students (I tend to conflate the two roles together).  I was surprised that my presence caused surprise.  Although this year I felt that there were more faculty representatives coming along than perhaps there were before, I do (personally) feel that there should be a broader spectrum of delegates attending.

All in all, I felt that I benefitted from the day.  I met people who I had never met before and the objectives of facilitating communication, sharing practice and re-energising delegates had clearly been met.

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Last TMA away! Reflections on my nth TMA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Nov 2012, 14:53

I could reach out and touch that moment I started the MAODE it feels that close ... February 11th 2010.

My last TMA. No panic. A week ago I asked for an extension thinking I hadn't had the time to get my head around the Block. And today I find I've submitted in good time.

Assembled through aggregating notes held here, in the this blog, then written up in Google Docs. I don't have Microsoft Word (indeed I don't have a PC).

On the fifth and final draft I saved out of Google Docs into word and made use of my teenage son's computer.

The word count is 3000. The first draft was 3400. Only the 3rd draft crept up to the 4000 mark as I dropped in a extra couple of paragraphs on a couple of topics I thought important. Then edit hard, dropping a few points that I'd made once and didn't need repeating just because I could add a further name into the reference list.

All referencing was in place from the start. I learnt a while back that it pays to attach all references to your notes as you go along as trying to figure out who said what and where and when later is a nightmare.

The 4th draft was printed off - a rare sight indeed to see paper coming out of my wife's printer.

Proof read, ditch a paragraph. Correct. Word Count. 170 over - trim more are delete headings and subheadings I'd lifted out of the TMA title anyway. A univeral word count up to References therefore gives 2983 words.

I used to struggle with drafts that came in at 6,000 words or more. I used to beg and hope and argue for a 10% lee-way on the word count. I could lose another 500 words in this TMA and it would be better.

How things have changed. I suppose I knew the would eventually.

So that dog will have a walk in daylight and I can think about supper.

Cheerio for now.

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A contextualised model of accessible e-learning practice in higher education institutions

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Nov 2012, 11:22

A contextualised model of accessible e-learning practice in higher education institutions

http://ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/seale.html

 

 

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H810 - Evaluating accessibility : e-learning scrutinised

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

photo%2520%25282%2529.JPG

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 24.1 Navigability of new media - haven't we moved on a bit since 1998?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 06:41

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction [Fleming, 1998; Nielsen, 1999].

Should a link from a reference that gives dated commentary such as this be given in a contemporary piece of e-learning on accessibility?

My frustrations may be leading to enlightenment but when a subject such as e-learning is so fast moving it is laughable to find yourself being referred to comentary published over a decade ago, and so potentially first written down 13 years ago.

At times I wonder why the OU doesn't have a model that can be repeatedly refreshed, at least with every presenation, rather than every decade when the stuff is replaced wholesale. They need a leaner machine - or at least the Institution of Educational Technology does.

I did H807 Innovations in e-learning in 2010 - it has now been replaced by H817 - at tmes H807 told me LESS about innovations in e-learning that I picked up myself working in the industry creating innovative online learning and development in 2000/2001 while my tutor struggled with the online tools sad that was then.

Here we go again, not from the resource, but from someone cited in it :

In 1999, in anticipation of Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill (SENDA), funding was obtained to employ a researcher for 2 days per week over a 6 month period to produce a concise usable guide to the factors which must be taken into account in order to produce accessible online learning materials.

I don't want to know or need to know - all of this should be filtered out.

There needs to be a new model for publishing academic papers - quicker and perishable, with a sell by date.

In fairness, in this instance, I am quoting from a reference of a 2006 publication that is a key resource for H810 Accessible Online Learning. But I have now found several specialists cited in Seale's publication on accessibility who say very different things in 2007 and 2011 respectively compared to how they are referenced in papers these two wrote in 1996 and 2001.

For example, compare these two:

Vanderheiden, G. C., Chisholm, W. A., & Ewers, N. (1997, November 18). Making screen readers work more effectively on the web (1st )

Vanderheiden, G. C.(2007) Redefining Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Disability Based on Recent Technical Advances. Journal of Technology in Human Services Volume 25, Issue 1-2, 2007, pages 147- 158

The beauty of our WWW in 2012 is that a few clicks and a reference can be checked and the latest views of the author considered, yet the module's design doesn't instigate or expect this kind of necessary refreshing.

The other one to look at is:

Stephanidis et al. (2011) Twenty five years of training and education in ICT Design for All and Assistive Technology.

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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

 

Breastroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25201.JPG

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.

Breaststroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25202.JPG

  • 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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Reflection on keeping an OU Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 07:04

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520a.JPG

Fig. 1. The Open University's Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.

On Friday, at midday, this blog reached a significant milestone.

I've been at it for 33 months. I've blogged the best part of FIVE modules now - most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement - I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.

The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to - though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.

(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)

To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this 'web-log' (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.

MAODE%25252520Wordle%2525252033%25252520x.JPG

Fig.2. Another way of looking at it. Betham, Conole and Weller are key MOADE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.

What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.

Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.

Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions - they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520d.JPG

Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix. To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.

The Task

  • List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
  • Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
  • Visualise this and draw some conclusions

MAODE%2520Wordle%252033%2520z.JPG

Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.

The Outcome

I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked - a 'private' dump of grabs and my thoughts).

Then I add an image or two.

These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search - 'the word' + images creative commons - is how I play it.

David%2520Ogilvy%2520Bentley.JPG

Fig. 5. From David Oglivy's book 'Ogilvy on advertising' - a simple suggestion - a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.

A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas - even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio - indeed this is what I'd recommend.

From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.

Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.

Gagne%25202.JPG

Fig. 6. In a word

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston

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Should we design learning with brain centers in mind rather than sensory channels? What do you think? What do you do?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 09:21

A%2520modern%2520vision%2520of%2520cortical%2520networks%2520SNIP%25202.JPG

Source: http://shape-of-code.coding-guidelines.com/tag/brain/

So, for example, design with the language and visual centres of the brain in mind, so that the specific combination of senses that might be engaged work in favour not in conflict with the process.

For example, we can read a map (visual) while receiving instructions on its use (auditory) - as the visual and language centers are distinct.

However, as I discovered yesterday, when I tried to pass on a message to my wife verbally who was in the depths of writing a report to a tight deadline not a word was heard - her language centre was so fully occupied that she shut me out. She didn't even see me come into the room. (She did enjoy the tea and toast though).

The mind's a tricky thing - are we being too clever? We've survived tens of thousands of years without multi-media or e-learning. I reckon the most useful things I have learnt in life were watching my grandfather service a car, put up wallpaper and empty the guttes.

 

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

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

The Good

Maria%2520Montessori.JPG

Fig.1. Maria Montessori

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

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

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

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

National Center for Accessible Media

Software and tools

Educational Issues for Students with Disabilities

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

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

Software should allow:

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

Benefits of Multimodal Learning

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

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

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

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

The Bad?

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

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

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

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

The Ugly?

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

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

FURTHER LINKS

Maria Montessori:

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

REFERENCE

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

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

 

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H810 Activity 19 Education Issues for Students with Disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:29

National Center for Accessible Media
http://ncam.wgbh.org/

Software and tools

Educational Issues for Students With Disabilities


http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/educational-issues-for-student

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, however, 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 and 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).

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).

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, Psyc ARTICLES, EBSCO host, viewed 30 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,

Williams, T. R. (2000) Guidelines for Designing and Evaluating the Display of information on the Web. By: Technical Communication, 00493155, Aug 2000, Vol. 47, Issue 3

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Disabilities, Functional Limitations and Accessibility Tips

http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/disabilities-functional-limita

Each disability presents unique challenges to computer users.

BLIND USERS

To support screen reading software, developers can:

  • use standard system tools to draw and erase all on-screen text and to display all cursors and pointers.
  • use system standard on-screen controls whenever possible.
  • define tools in toolbars, palettes, and menus as separate items, and avoid creating single graphics containing multiple objects. When tools and other objects are kept separate, the screen reader is better able to identify and name each tool for the user.
  • embed descriptive text in graphic images in such a way as to make the text known to screen-reading software. This addresses the problems that can arise when text is rendered as a graphic image and cannot be read by software.
  • assign logical names to controls, even if the name is not visible on the screen. Screen readers can access this information and use it to describe the type and function of the control on the screen.
  • track the system cursor with the mouse, even if the cursor is invisible. This allows the screen-reading software to detect the mouse position when customized highlighting or focusing techniques are in use.
  • use consistent and predictable screen and dialog layouts.
  • avoid the use of "help" balloons that disappear whenever the hot spot, or focus of the mouse, changes. Locking the help balloon in place lets user move the cursor and continue to read the balloon.
  • provide keyboard equivalents for all tools, menus, and dialog boxes.


Since screen readers can only read text (or give names to separately identifiable icons or tools), it is a good idea to:

  • avoid assigning unlabeled hot spots to pictures for use as controls.
  • avoid non-text menu items when possible or at least incorporate visible or invisible text cues to accompany these items. Screen readers can see text even if that text is written to the screen invisibly.
  • avoid non-redundant graphic toolbars.

Finally, documentation and training materials are always more accessible when:

  • documentation and on-line help can be understood independent of graphics. Text descriptions should stand on their own.
  • synchronized audio descriptions are available to play alongside animated graphics or movies.

For People with Low Vision


"Low vision" refers to a range of vision problems including:

  • poor acuity, meaning blurred or fogged vision.
  • loss of all central vision; the ability to see only the outer ring of the visual field.
  • tunnel vision; the ability to see only the center of the normal visual field.
  • loss of vision in other parts of the visual field.
  • other problems, including night blindness, reduced contrast and sensitivity to glare.

Computer users with low vision often depend on the ability to enlarge or otherwise enhance areas of on-screen information. Screen-enlargement software can be tremendously helpful.

To make on-screen information easier to see, developers can:

  • increase the contrast between text and the background.
  • place text over a solid-color background. A patterned background can make text harder to discern.
  • create consistent layouts for all screens and dialogs within the program.
  • provide access to tools via a menu bar.
  • follow line-width guidelines when drawing lines on screen. Use the line-width information provided by operating system settings. This will ensure that the learning application will increase all lines proportionally should a user choose to enlarge the view.
  • allow the user to zoom in on or magnify portions of the screen.

To make software more compatible with other applications that offer low-vision access features, developers can:

  • use the system pointers whenever possible, as well as the system caret or insertion bar, if available.
  • include a highlight or focus indicator when dragging the system cursor, even at those times when the cursor is invisible. This adjustment will help screen enlargement software using "pan and zoom" features to track the user's movements more accurately.
  • add support for a "high contrast" setting.
  • protect users from the need to monitor simultaneously two or more events occurring far apart from each other on the screen.

 

For People with Language or Cognitive Disabilities


Language and cognitive disabilities are very difficult for developers to address, partly because of the diversity represented in the category. The group includes individuals with:

  • general processing difficulties such as mental retardation, brain injury and others.
  • specific deficits such as lack of short-term memory, the inability to remember proper names and others.
  • learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory perceptual disabilities, cognitive disorganization, and visual perceptual disabilities.
  • language delays.


In addition, the degree of impairment within each of these categories can range broadly, from minimal to severe. In general, software designed to be as user-friendly as possible will improve accessibility for those with language or cognitive impairments.

To improve accessibility for people with language or cognitive disabilities, developers can:

  • allow all message alerts to remain on screen until dismissed by the user.
  • make language and instructions as simple and straightforward as possible, both on screen and in documentation.
  • use simple and consistent screen layouts.


It is important to bear in mind that those with language and cognitive disabilities often have difficulty processing print. To increase accessibility for this population, developers should take steps to make their software compatible with screen-reading software

TOOLS FOR ACCESS
http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/tools-for-access

Assistive technology (AT) is an umbrella term used to describe any product or technology-based service that helps disabled people to live, learn, work and enjoy life. In the context of on-line education, assistive technology refers to hardware and software technologies that enable people with disabilities to use computers more effectively.

Screen Readers


Screen readers are software products designed for blind users, but they are also useful to users with learning disabilities. Screen readers locate information seen on the computer screen and vocalize it using text-to-speech software and, occasionally, hardware. Most screen readers work in close concert with the operating system, relying on the computer's built-in capabilities. Applications and software that conform to the standards of the operating system are more likely to be accessible. Applications and software that ignore the requirements of screen readers and the operating systems that support them may well prove unusable for some disabled people.

Screen Magnifiers


Screen magnifiers are software solutions for people with low vision. These products allow the user to enlarge the size of images and text displayed on screen. Screen magnifiers may also permit the user to change the default colors of the display.

Compatibility between screen magnifiers and software can be a problem for developers. Typical screen magnifiers track the cursor or the active region of the screen and will automatically enlarge that portion of the display. Applications that use a custom cursor design may cause the magnifier to enlarge the wrong portion of the screen. Developers can avoid this problem by relying on standard interface practices, particularly those that apply to cursor control and display.

Equivalent Access Versus Alternative Access

When considering accessibility of learning applications, it is important to understand the differences between two types of access: equivalent and alternative.

Equivalent access provides the disabled user with content identical to that used by the non-disabled user. For the disabled user, however, that content is presented in a different manner. Providing a course textbook in braille format, on audiotape, or in digital format are examples of equivalent accessibility.

Alternative access provides the disabled user with a learning activity that differs from the activity used by the non-disabled user. However, the alternative activity is designed to achieve the same learning objectives. For example, a mobility-impaired student might be given the option of conducting a science experiment in a virtual laboratory, where the levels of dexterity, strength, and physical access are different from those required in a physical laboratory.

There are numerous examples where software developed for alternative access has become the mainstream choice when its value to all learners was recognized. For example, the virtual microscope developed for disabled students by The Open University proved better able to achieve key learning objectives than its mainstream counterpart and so came to be used by all students.

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Accessibility Guidelines

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:34

Accessibility Guidelines

 

 

 

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H810 Activity 16.1 Assistive Techology - giving it a go

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 10:58

Fig. 1. Close on the Braille Map - Lewes Station, East Sussex

Two months into 'H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students' I find my antennae are picking up signs and symbols, practices and expectations related to access.

A bus that is full unable to take on the wheelchair user. A blind person on the tube.

Fig.2 Sign as you exit Tower Hill underground. I like the fact that neither the words 'disability' or 'access' are used.

A notice outside Tower Hill tube station and Vvideo clips on products, services and experiences that give some insight into whether or not a piece of assistive technology works or not.

This week (or last) I've been getting behind so jump back and forth between the two we were asked to try some specific tasks as if we were blind. Being the stubborn type I have pressed on with this, alone. Taking my glasses off is a shocking start as I find my face close to the screen. Wearing a blind fold is the next step. Also, as I videod test drivers doing, putting goggles made of plastic coffee cups with the bottoms cut out over my eyes to recreate tunnel vision.

The evidence of the last couple of months, let alone witnessing the Paralympics, shoes how far more diverse the community of people with disabilities is, compare to the rest of the population. Loss of vision is on a scale, as is hearing and mobility.

I guess this is what I am meant to conclude.

I have tried to test accessibility from the point of view of someone who is visually impaired before. I try again using narrator.

Why does it fail?

1) Am I personally adapt at tackling new technology? If so, how so? One way or another I will take to something, visually impaired or not, if I find it intuitive. More importantly I have to have a time and task critical goal. And if that isn't adequate motivation, what is? Motivation will overcome many hurdles.

2) My context, especially past experience of the tools being used. Here's a test.

This sentence is written entirely as a piece of touch tyoung, You can see for your self when and where I start to get lost.

To do this, I found myself looking up at the ceiling.

Actually, EXACTLY as I have seen a proficient blind user of JAWS do.

Think of a blind pianist like Stevie Wonder.

Why look at the screen that offers no clues ... no support, rather sit back and let your fingers do the talking and the seeing. There is a reason why learning the piano as a boy the teacher covered the keyboard - at least I had the music to sight read. Equally there is a reason why learning to touch type on day three or four or something I found myself sitting at a blanked out keyboard. Decades on I delight in the fact that six or more keys on the keyboard have been wiped clean. I just centre my hands and get on with it. A similar challenge has been drawing while not taking my eyes off the object (or person) I am drawing.

These are skills of dexterity, with or without sight.

The appropriate test for assistive technology has to be with someone with the impairment being tested for ... and ideally, as you would do in any research, with a group that are representative of the adapt as well as new comers.

Whilst personas will do, when we have credibly empathy with a potential user, when it comes to disabilities first hand experience is required - far better to engage them and understand it from their point of view than try to imagine what it is like. THIS is how the wrong decissions are taken. Instead of imagining what it might be like - get out and do first hand research with actual representative groups. This is far, far more revealing (as planners in advertising agencies will tell you).

 

 

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H810 Activity 15.1 Assistive Technology

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

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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

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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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What a noggin ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 9 Oct 2012, 11:56

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Fig. 1. Benzi, after Gianlorenzo Bernini. 'Damned Soul', 1705-07

It has taken me 33 months, my fifth module and x assignments ... 12-16 ? and for the first time three things have happened:

  • The first draft is written with two days to go.
  • The word count is only 100 or so over the limit.
  • I stuck to the treatment.
  • Its a tad journalistic at this stage, but I enjoyed it.

On top of the MA the OU has given me the tools and confidence, and in this case, the knowledge, to write.

Thanks OU!

Off to London for the day.

RA this afternoon for the 'Bronzes' Exhibition, then a presentation in the evening - me talking, 'Use of video in e-learning' at an IVCA meeting.


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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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Can you recommend a 'must read' from your course?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Oct 2012, 11:30

20121003-070538.jpg While studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Learning (MAODE) I love to have one or more books on the go to read from cover to cover.

Courtesy of the eBook format, as I read I highlight, bookmark, make notes and share excerpts on Twitter @JJ27VV.

The OU courses don't do whole books (with one exception).

Sections highlighted by other readers are indicated too making the reading process less of the private, isolated affair it was in the past. John Seely Brown spoke at The OU too, so find his lecture here.

When it comes to e-learning there are a handful of must-read books, such as his one.

What have you come across that you would recommend?

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H810 - One Size does not fit all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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