Digital Accessibility Exploration & Evaluation

Lynne Taylerson
Twitter Profile: @realtimeedu 13th January 2021

The aspects of digital tools and technology use that can be less well addressed in some education providers are those of accessibility of resources and awareness and adherence to accessibility law. When managers think of ‘accessibility’ many quite rightly immediately bring to mind physical structural capital, for example access to buildings and ease of use of physical resources. They may give less consideration to the digital systems, tools and resources that learners will be working with. Though some organisations have put useful, longstanding policies for IT use and Accessibility in place, there can often be a lack of coherence or linking between the two. The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations (2018) requires leaders to consider the accessibility of learning tools and resources and put robust policies in place in this area and this resource includes activities which allow managers to engage with legislation, reflect on current policies and procedures, plan staff development and set actions around digital accessibility.

Targeted Audience

This resource is intended for use in a CPD event for leaders and managers, though it may work equally well for governors of training providers and the managers of partner organisations who access training. The activities may also benefit new managers entering, or working on partnership with an organisation, particularly from industry at curriculum management level (e.g. on Apprenticeship or T Level programmes). It aims to help managers to ensure that a coherent message on Accessibility can be advocated throughout an organisation and to its partners. It asks leaders to explore the accessibility of their current digital offer putting particular focus on how organisational policy, reinforced by ‘buy-in’ from leadership and management, will inform procedure, set the tone for and therefore have direct impact on the learners’ experience with use of digital tools and assets. It models a flipped learning approach which may add value for any participants who have already not used this learning strategy.

Resource effectiveness in solving the identified problem

The use of the 2 Enhance modules raise participants’ awareness of the 2018 regulations and also the requirement for management buy in and advocacy for digital accessibility. The activities allow leaders, managers and partners to evaluate the accessibility policies used in an organisation and also encourage them to make links to other appropriate policies such as IT Use and CPD. Participants are directed towards exemplar accessibility statements and encouraged to evaluate and refine organisational own policies following this review. There is also encouragement for identification of ‘digital accessibility champions’ in an organisation who can take a lead in showcasing accessible digital resources and providing CPD in a peer-led model.

Use, impact and benefits seen from learners

I have used a similar activity in a consultant capacity with leaders and managers of 2 smaller training providers in the past year. All participants commented that the activity had raised their awareness of digital accessibility and highlighted the need for more detailed and coherent policies and statements as well as staff CPD. It allowed organisations to identify and begin to work with 'digital accessibility champions'. When I originally facilitated these sessions they were conducted on a traditional F2F basis, as requested by the organisers. The resource that I have shared here is refined to adopt a flipped classroom approach and now uses 2 Enhance modules for underpinning principles and guidance towards further reading. I think that use of a flipped model will be a valuable refinement as it allows flexibility of delivery and also showcases use of some valuable additional digital tools and approaches.

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