This blog post is to provide an update on the work that has been undertaken over this academic year to raise awareness of the need to create digitally accessible content. The aim is to support staff to develop the skills required and helping them to make simple changes to their practice that will result in more accessible resources to enable all our learners to take part in their learning without having any barriers in their place.
Visits to academic units
33 presentations to academic units have either taken place, or are scheduled to take place in the 2019-20 academic year. The reception from staff to the information in the presentation has been extremely positive with colleagues keen to find out how they can engage with the work to improve accessibility for all. The team are very happy to present at all appropriate forums so if we haven’t visited your area, please get in touch with LTDS and we can arrange this.
Accessibility in Practice Workshop
The “Accessibility in Practice” workshops ran in academic units, and centrally and is always well received. In this workshop we focus on quick wins to create accessible documents. We support staff to use accessibility checkers on documents and, they experience how learners adapt and work with digital content. We explore how SensusAccess can empower students and staff to make the inaccessible accessible. This is a hands-on workshop, staff will take away ideas, check-lists and tools that support inclusive practices. Feedback from staff to the session include:
“Great for someone new to the topic but also still valuable to someone who is aware of the basics.”
“Super practical. Learnt about loads of features I had no idea about.”
“I enjoyed learning about the resources available within Newcastle University and on software such as Office 365, an often ignored topic in teaching training I’ve attended in the past”
Accessibility and Inclusion on the Digital Learning website
There are useful links to many of the resources across the University that will help you make your content more accessible including updated NUIT Guidance, and SensusAccess. Further resources relating to the University approach to accessibility and inclusion are available, including a screencast of the presentation we have been providing to academic units.
The University is carrying out work to improve the digital accessibility of systems and content across the institution. This includes the module content with Blackboard.
This work started with the Art of the Possible week in July 2019. This week of activity showcased some of the great work already underway in this area and provided useful practical CPD sessions for staff to engage with.
This is being followed by visits to academic units during this academic year to inform them of the benefits and ease of accessible content within Blackboard, and other TEL systems. These visits have started and will continue through Semester 1.
The accessibility in practice workshop that has been developed alongside the Student Wellbeing service the helps staff learn how to create accessible and inclusive learning and teaching resources will be offered to each academic unit, as well as being run centrally.
SensusAccess gives users the ability to convert documents into formats that work for them. This is particularly important for documents that are inaccessible and SensusAccess offers a self-service solution to this.
We are pleased to confirm that SensusAccess will be available throughout Semester 2 for a University-wide pilot to determine whether it meets the needs of students and staff. The system will be available to all students and staff for the remainder of the current academic year, with an evaluation being undertaken in the summer to inform a decision on whether to continue to make SensusAccess available at Newcastle beyond 2018-19.
SensusAccess is available on the ASK website and there will be links to this in several locations on the University’s online provision, including the Blackboard homepage, Student Health and Wellbeing website, Library website and the LTDS website, ensuring users can find the system from a range of locations.
The system will be easy to use for students and staff. During the pilot they will be able upload documents to SensusAccess choosing the file type that they require. The uploaded document is automatically deleted after being converted. No uploaded or converted documents are stored by SensusAccess. Full information about the conditions of use, including copyright, is available on the ASK website.
As this is a pilot, we are keen to hear your views and will be conducting an evaluation at the end of the pilot period. If you would like to feedback your experiences or need any further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Students are encouraged to contact email@example.com to provide feedback.