Week 14: Activity 27.4
First of all I had to find out what was meant by Alt Format - it seems to mean any alternative format used by users.
Challenge 1: How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?
In my current context the most pertinent example concerns the University learning system. It has its own website and portal with a link into all the other systems the students use. This produces a very complex system and one student I am working with has a severe visual impairment; another has severe dyslexia. Both have found it very difficult to remember the sequences to access the information that they require
Challenge 2: How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?
Currently many of the resources required by a student have to be adapted by their support workers or they are paid for using their DSA. This results in duplicative work and it is time consuming and expensive. Publishers are also issuing digital copies of books to individual students and insisting they sign a copyright agreement. This results in the effort of obtaining these textbooks being duplicated each time a student needs the book.
Challenge 3: How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?
I would love to see a cooperative effort between Staffordshire University and Keele University Law Schools at least - a small start but it could really help.
Challenge 4: How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?
Working at university, there is a high premium on academic prowess and often the amount of rhetoric clouds the issue. Students do need to learn to interpret this rhetoric but they do not need to do so on general web pages and in assignment instructions. Having a university standard for the reading level of a general text and using a readability tool as part of accessibility testing would be an improvement. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) uses an adapted version of the Simple Measure of Gobbledegook (SMOG) calculator to produce a readability level (NIACE, 2009).
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) (NIACE, 2009) Readability: how to produce clear written materials for a range of readers. Available from: http://shop.niace.org.uk/media/catalog/product/R/e/Readability.pdf [Accessed 20th November 2010]
Challenge 5: How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?
Dr. Ian Rowlands reported that Florida State University gave their incoming students an information skills test. There was a strong positive correlation with initial IT skills and the best final grades. Both the top and bottom quartile of students thought they had done well on the assessments. This indicates that it is not enough to trust a student's verbal self-evaluation when assessing their IT skills.
I am currently working with a student who refuses to accept any training as she feels it will be a waste of time when she is already so proficient at using technology. Working closely with her, it is clear that she needs a great deal of help with word processing as well as with her assistive technology.
Challenge 6: How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?
I have mentioned this before. Pedagogy first and so it is lecturers who need to be involved in adapting materials - they are the only ones who know what is required as learning objectives.