Before joining UCL I was a Secondary ICT teacher, one of schools I taught in had a specialist unit for hearing impaired students, and another school had a relatively high proportion of SEN students and was awarded the Dyslexia Aware Schools Quality Mark. I have always tried to develop learning materials inclusively and tried to take students needs into account as much as possible. This has been influenced by the experiences of one of my oldest friends who was only recognised as having SEN when she returned to study at a local FE college aged 20.
I have volunteered with the charity Kith & Kids since August 2009, supporting adults and young people with a variety of disabilities, accessibility and equality of experience are important to me.
It is these experiences that influence my approach to the work I undertake at UCL. The social relational model of disability identifies externally imposed disadvantage and restriction as being caused by a contemporary social organisation that takes little or no account of people who have impairments. If we subscribe to this model we therefore need to ensure that UCL as a social organisation does not impose such disadvantages and restrictions. This includes all teaching and learning.
As part of the update process for the Information Security Group’s Information Security Awareness course, I engaged with the Disability IT Support Analyst Michele Farmer. Feedback from Michele informed some of the updates to version 2 of the Information Security Awareness course.
Additionally, I have engaged with Michele early in the initial design work for the RITS online courses, we are aiming for this course to be accessible by design instead of ‘retro-fitting’ accessibility.
RITS Online Courses
Creating online versions of existing face-to-face courses has provided myself and the teams within Research IT Services the opportunity to review their existing training materials.
The UCL research community is diverse, and the online courses created will need to be accessible for all users (V1, V2). One of my concerns with the existing resources are that they are very written text heavy, and are not accessible to all potential participants. As there will need to be a number of adaptions to existing course materials and additional supporting materials will need to be created, both myself and RITS saw this as an opportunity to make the online courses accessible by design. Additionally resources to be created include explanatory videos, diagrams and interactive activities. It is hoped that this will also improve the accessibility of materials used in the ongoing face-to-face courses.
To date we have directly involved Michele with the selection of the style sheet for course web sites. Testing of resources for compatibility with support tools such as the screen-reader JAWS will play a large part in meeting this goal (A4, K2, K4), as will user testing by both members of the Research Programming Hub and SENIT suite users.
Information Security Awareness
Whilst I was in the process of updating the Moodle course Information Security Awareness, I took the opportunity to act on some feedback received about the course regarding the ThingLink resources. To make these accessible to all users a non-interactive file was created containing the same content but as text.
An on-going issue is the Flash phishing awareness game, unfortunately during my time with the Information security Group I was unable to source a more accessible alternative. As the game is very popular with many users of the course the decision was made to retain the game as a course resource for the time being.
The inability to source an accessible alternative to the current phishing awareness game was very frustrating as I knew that we were not providing as rich as experience for all users of the course as I would have liked. (K2, K4, V1, V2)
Seale, J. (2014). E-learning and disability in higher education : Accessibility research and practice (Second ed.).