Thursday 19 May 2022 sees the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) when “we get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than one billion people with disabilities/impairments.” (GAAD, 2022)
Here at the University of Reading, we recognise that we have a diverse range of students with different learning needs, styles and preferences, and who engage with their learning and resources in a variety of different ways. We aim to provide all of our students with an optimal learning experience by ensuring all teaching and learning resources and experiences are as accessible and as inclusive as possible.
One way in which we do this is by using the Blackboard Ally tool. This tool enables staff to check and improve the accessibility of content they upload to Blackboard, and provides students with the choice of downloading content from Blackboard in a range of different formats (including audio MP3 files and PDFs) to best suit them. Chatting recently to REP Masters student Hannah Baxter, she explained how she liked the option of downloading content as PDF documents using different tabs as this helped her to organise her information and thoughts.
Staff can find out more about how they can use Blackboard Ally to improve the accessibility of their Blackboard content on the Staff Support site.
Students can learn more about the different formats available for download on Blackboard on the Student Support site.
GAAD is all about focusing our attention and reflection on ensuring we provide digitally accessible experiences and resources to all our students. Across GAAD week this year (w/c 16 May), we’re running a series of bookable staff development sessions to help support our teaching colleagues to reflect on their practice and help them ensure they are providing accessible and inclusive resources and learning experiences:
- TEL: Showcase: Accessible Notation in STEM Subjects, 17 May
- TEL: Digital Access and Inclusion in T&L at UoR, 19 May
- TEL: Inclusive Design Principles for Online T&L, 19 May
- TEL: Making Your Blackboard Module More Accessible with Blackboard Ally, 19 May
Why not spend a few minutes on GAAD Day (Thursday 19 May) ‘fixing your content’ and improving the accessibility of the materials you make available on Blackboard? If you’re not sure how to do this, perhaps sign up for TEL: Making Your Blackboard Module More Accessible with Blackboard Ally session on the 19 May and/or check out the advice on the TEL support site.
You may also find the Accessible Resources guidance on the TEL website helpful. Find out about the principles for inclusive design to help you design your Blackboard module for all of your student and the SCULPT Framework to help you design accessible learning resources.
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day to everyone! #GAAD
- Bale, R. and Seabrook, M., 2021. Introduction to University Teaching. London: SAGE, pp.145-163.
- GAAD. 2022. GAAD. [online] Available at: <https://accessibility.day/> [Accessed 10 May 2022].