Creating accessible e-learning resources for disabled students.

1. Introduction

This leaflet is one of a series written for the SHEFC-funded Project, Teachability: Creating an accessible curriculum for students with disabilities. The whole series covers elements of curricula, from Information about the Course or Programme of Study through to Examinations and Assessments. Each leaflet provides information and suggestions for academic staff who are concerned to make their curriculum design and delivery as accessible as it can be to disabled students. Given that a curriculum which is accessible is one in which reasonable adjustments have been anticipated, the leaflets are also likely to be of value to those who are reviewing their provision in the light of the duties of the Disability Discrimination Act, Part IV.

The series is intended to support academic staff in reviewing curricular provision, and to help decide whether some change is required or desirable. Of course, the implementation of change may involve others in the academic department or unit, or in the wider institution or beyond, such as professional bodies or national organizations. The aim is to identify, and thereafter remove or reduce, inadvertent barriers, which prevent disabled students from successfully participating in courses and programmes of study.

The DDA Part IV, Code of Practice (para. 4.27) requires that academic staff be clear about core course requirements. Such clarity is useful in identifying what scope there may be for changing aspects of curriculum design and delivery. It is important that academic staff consider where adjustments may, and may not, be made, or where course design or delivery may or may not be made
more accessible. The legislation promotes a departure from ad hoc, reactive responses to the needs of disabled people. This suggests that wherever possible, courses and teaching practices should be accessible by design, so that only minimal adaptations need to be made for individuals.

In the provision of educational services, the DDA requires that disabled students should not be substantially disadvantaged through the failure of the University to make reasonable adjustments, or through less favourable treatment. With this obligation in mind, technology offers considerable potential as an effective way of overcoming some of the barriers to accessibility present in traditional teaching delivery, thereby widening access to teaching and learning. But at the same time, academic staff should be aware of the
dangers of unwittingly introducing new barriers to learning.

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