Creating accessible information about courses or programmes of study for disabled students.

3. Reflecting on format

“Students currently have access to a wide range of information from a variety of sources – e.g. directly from the School or other areas of the University (Information Office, International Office), during Open Days, recruitment events and/or via the Website. Information is effectively available at all levels – School, Faculty and University. Generally, the documentation could be more explicit about what is involved both in terms of physical activities, and study and communication activities, including group or teamwork.””

In addition to thinking about the content of what you tell potential students, you also need to think about where and how the information will be made available. This could be on the department or University web-site, in a hard copy prospectus, via leaflets distributed by Admissions Services or by the University’s administration office. It could also be made available at a face-to-face or telephone meeting with a member of staff. This way of informing potential students might be appropriate where there is a need for discussion about precisely how a prospective student’s needs would be met on the course or in the programme of study.

It is clearly of great importance that whoever conducts such a discussion with potential students should be well informed about the course or programme of study’s essential requirements, its ‘competence standards’, and about where there may, or may not, be scope for adjustments.

A course selector is not sure whether the placement element must be carried out on a full-time basis. He contacts the heads of departments in which the applicant wants to study in order to check.

Questions such as these, which disabled potential students may bring to the discussion, underline the need for prior departmental thought and agreement, against the legal framework introduced by the amendments to the DDA Part IV in 2006.

The expertise of the Disability Service is often useful in the discussion. For example, a knowledge of technological resources can be brought to a problem such as whether a visually impaired student could access visual or microscopic images. It can often be helpful to have a 3-way discussion between departmental representatives, the Disability Service, and the disabled student; such discussions can look at curricular requirements, technological and other possible adjustments, and the likely impact of the student’s impairment. This creates an opportunity for moving beyond identifying possible problems to finding solutions.

“In at least one case, we arranged a visit that included more detailed discussions with the First Year Co-ordinator and the Departmental Safety Adviser. We propose to continue to use this procedure for all cases where we know that adjustments are not already in place on a programme for a particular individual.””

Whether the information about the course is provided by a person or through a text, you must be confident that potential students are actually accessing the information which will lead them to your course or programme of study. If the information is clearly and simply expressed, then you increase the chances of attracting more and better informed students. If you envisage that a person will deal with detailed enquiries, then you can direct applicants towards the named contact(s) in your text based course or programme of study information.

A department of Teacher Education anticipates a variety of text or print needs by holding the information on disk, so that it can be more readily provided in Braille, or in large print, or in various combinations of colour of print and background, as required.

IInformation made available on web-sites should conform to Web Accessibility standards with regard to the following points:

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