a) Understanding and engaging with legislation
The Equality Act 2010 and Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR) are legislative and regulatory requirements which are fundamental to my practice as a learning technologist. For example, in January I attended an Assistive Technology Network meeting (2021). At the meeting, Piers Wilkinson (2021), Student Voice Commissioner at the Disabled Students’ Commission outlined reports and factors for universities to be aware of during the pandemic. Wilkinson’s talk validated an issue that I highlighted in relation to technical settings during online exams and allowed rest breaks. I initially raised this with colleagues working in student services who support students with disabilities. I then also raised the issue with a senior manager and was able to strengthen my points by referencing Wilkinson’s talk1. I then collaborated with my colleagues in the Disability and Dyslexia team to write guidance based on existing precedents and I created flowcharts to explain the process to academic staff and administrators2. This made an enormous difference to my support of exams, as although the policy is awaiting ratification, this provisionally agreed practice helped me to advise academic staff. This experience also taught me more about how and where to raise issues when I have insight through virtue of my role. I believe that the guidance has and will make a meaningful difference and as it also involved formalising communications related to online exams. It has already helped to improve the experience for all students taking exams in the newly merged school I support.
Accessible and inclusive practice has the potential to improve the lived experiences of all people; this is one of my core professional values. I work to support this through a variety of work streams including university committees and network groups (refer to Specialist Area). In my everyday work role accessibility permeates every aspect of my practice. I produce my own help materials to meet PSBAR and WCAG 2.1 standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, 2018), this includes consideration of writing style, use of images, colour, tables, data visualisation and checking the accuracy of video subtitles. I own responsibility for Blackboard Ally, an accessibility add-on for Blackboard which I led on implementing during the height of the pandemic3 as part of the university’s work to meet the PSBAR regulations. I wrote the online workshop materials and created support materials for staff training. I also collated broader guidance based on the SCULPT acronym (Wilson, 2020) from the Government Digital Service to help support an accessible mindset for staff when producing resources for students. I led staff outreach programmes and events and collaborated with Jill Shacklock, Tucker MacNeill and University of Sussex Technology Enhanced Learning Team (TEL) team for Global Accessibility Awareness Day in 2020 and 20214. I also model accessible practice in my own teaching, for instance I provide tours of the accessibility tools in Microsoft Teams at the start of my sessions. Furthmore, I provide alternative ways of taking part when I am using web tools like Mural as part of live online sessions where there are known limitations with accessibility. I keep my accessibility skills current by attending Jisc Digifest, Jisc Accessibility Community events, ALT talks (Melcher, 2021) and by completing training5. I also highlight and suggest ways of fixing everyday accessibility issues across the university, such as issues with forms, committee papers, and data visualisations6. My interventions and my efforts to empower others to identify and solve accessibility issues help to promote accessibility as a priority and support the ongoing work to meet the legal requirements.
Assistive Technology Network (2021) 'Sustainable approaches in a time of transformation meeting 28 January 2021'. Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1P4h7MfKBgkIpeaTnWGpZIAyTDqGmz1oF/edit (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
Equality Act 2010, c. 15. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents/enacted(Accessed: 31 May 2021).
Melcher, M. (2021) CPD Webinar: What students actually want from online learning: results from a university-wide study of student digital accessibility needs [Google doc]. Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16G7zicLg2GWU8eL1liHZxqWlTSTHNlwLr7AIrORAyJk/edit (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, no. 952. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/952/contents/enacted (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 (2018). Available at: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/ (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
Wilkinson, P. (2021) Disabled Student Policy Roudup, Did anyone else manage to catch it all? [Google Slides]. Available at: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Ft5x1Y7oZoLxfrkY19U_pgWeKhaITqLJ/edit (Accessed: 31 May 2021).
SCULPT by Helen Wilson (2020) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work at Worcestershire County Council.
Evidence: Redacted Brighton Achieves Steering Group Minutes (22/01/21) - Word document | PDF quick view. Meeting where I raised the technical settings related to online exams. The document is redacted, but the headings are kept in-place for context. Relevant section is highlighted in yellow. ↩︎
Evidence: In-progress work showing version 1 (v1) and version (v2) of the flowchart for academic staff and administrators (April and May 2021). Version 2 offers a substantially simplified workflow based on testing. This will be validated by academic staff and programme administrators. ↩︎
Evidence: Excerpts from presentation for Blackboard Ally EU User Group (25/03/21). - Powerpoint | PDF quick view The presentation explained key aspects of implementing Blackboard Ally at University of Brighton. An updated version of this presentation has subsequently been accepted for Blackboard World in July 2021. ↩︎
Evidence: GAAD Evidence: Wakelet board (2020), example GAAD blog post from week three (06/05/21) - Word document | PDF quick view. ↩︎