This post looks at how accessibility relates to the use of learning technology.
Learning enhanced via the use of technology can provide a variety of benefits and challenges for disabled students, including:
- Flexible access to learning opportunities
- Formats that are easier for some students to process (e.g. audio instead of text)
- Effective provision of alternative formats
- Content available for reference and review
- Use own customised equipment to access learning opportunities
- Increased accessibility for all students not just disabled students.
- Not all electronic formats are designed to include accessible features
- No alternative has been ‘automatically provided’ for resources that are inaccessible to some students (e.g. transcript of audio, alternative text on images) requiring an adjustment to be made in response to need.
- Some online services and electronic resources will not work with the assistive technology that students use to access computers.
Further information about the barriers students face when learning can be found at Understanding User Needs – JISC TechDis.
When designing and delivering learning using technology you will need to consider the challenges that disabled students might face. Many of the features that make a resource more accessible to disabled students will also make it more accessible to all students. Planning and designing your curriculum to be inclusive from the beginning can help to reduce the time and resources needed to make reasonable adjustments later on. This is often referred to as taking an ‘anticipatory approach’ and you can find more on a future post about reasonable adjustments and learning technology.
If you want to find out more about accessibility and technology enhanced learning take a look at Accessibility of eLearning, a free online course with the Open University.
The next post will look at the experience of disabled students.