This post looks at why it is important to consider the provision of reasonable adjustments when using learning technology in learning and teaching.
When anticipating the needs of disabled students you will need to consider whether any reasonable adjustments are required to make technology enhanced learning accessible. The reasonable adjustments duty within the Equality Act 2010 requires you to:
“avoid as far as possible by reasonable means the disadvantage which a disabled student experiences because of their disability” (EHRC, undated)
Although adjustments can be made to the use of learning technology it is important to consider what is ‘reasonable’. It may not be possible to implement all of the possible adjustments due to time, costs and technical constraints. However it is important to consider what is possible and to try and find other ways of making the learning opportunities provided by technology accessible.
It can be difficult to know what could be considered to be a reasonable adjustment so we have provided a few examples, which involve the use of learning technology.
- Providing an alternative format for a resource which may be inaccessible for some students (e.g. Word document version of a PowerPoint presentation).
- Ensuring that you describe an image thoroughly (via text or audio) to not disadvantage those students who cannot access it.
- Providing an electronic copy of lecture notes or session outlines prior to the session taking place helping students to prepare for what will be covered.
Anticipating the adjustments that students might need and designing them into the use of learning technology can take less time and effort than having to adapt a resource later on. However, it may not be possible to anticipate the needs of all students but it is important to consider what reasonable adjustments could be made when a need is identified.
For more information take a look at the Equality Challenge Unit’s document on Managing Reasonable Adjustments in Higher Education.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) (undated) Reasonable Adjustments [online], http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/further-and-higher-education-providers-guidance/key-concepts/what-is-discrimination/reasonable-adjustments/ (4 February 2013)
The next post will look at accessibility guidelines for supporting visually impaired or blind students with electronic resources and technologies.