Inclusive learning: Minimising barriers to learning. WHELF Teachmeet, 12 May 2021
José Lopez Blanco writes:
On the 12th of May 2021, librarians from academic institutions across Wales gathered for the latest WHELF teachmeet to share good practice on improving inclusivity in learning and teaching.
The event took place online. There were three presentations on the day -click on the presentation titles to view the slides:
Joe Nicholls, Education Consultant, Cardiff University
Joe reminded us that we should value difference in our student body and the learning opportunities it creates. Joe posed an interesting question: “what is normal anyway?”
One difficulty is that a lot of accessibility work is done retrospectively, while it should be done from the outset.
There was a call for reflection and recognising our bias: in Joe’s adapted quote, “teacher, heal thyself.”
Finally, Joe gave us a short demonstration of how to apply the principles of the Universal Design for Learning model: https://udlguidelines.cast.org/.
Martina Webber, manager of the Swansea University Transcription Centre
Martina firstly introduced us to the legal framework around accessibility in universities:
- The Equality Act 2010 asks universities to provide accessible learning.
- The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 regulates the accessibility of all digital resources.
Martina then gave us an overview of what the law says about the characteristics of accessible digital environments and highlighted the social model of disability, whereby the onus is on society to become inclusive, rather than on individuals to request alternative formats in learning.
Finally, we were given a summary of the work from Swansea University Transcription Centre, in operation since 1995 and a free service since 2014. There are only seven such centres in the whole of the UK.
Some the work they do includes transcribing all course materials, sourcing alternative formats, transcribing of audio recordings and converting textbooks to DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) audiobooks.
Philippa Price, Subject Librarian, Swansea University
Philippa shared some practical tips on how to make learning materials more accessible by paying attention to the following features in PowerPoint and Word documents: font, size, colour contrast, avoiding italic text and block capitals, not relying on one single feature for emphasis, avoiding big chunks of text, clear and concise language, and adding alt text to as many images as possible.
Philippa then offered a practical demonstration of how to use the Check Accessibility feature in PowerPoint, Styles in Word and Font sizes in Outlook. Philippa also showed how an accessible template for PowerPoint can be built. During Questions and Answers participants were invited to share what tips they were going to take away and share. There were quite a few questions about sourcing ebooks in accessible format and the rise in demand for audiobooks.
A recording of the event is available here