‘Accessibility is about designing out any unnecessary barriers that make it harder to engage and take part in everyday activities. Being inclusive is about giving equal access and opportunities to everyone wherever possible.’ (Getting started with accessibility and inclusion, JISC, February 2018).
When thinking about accessibility in teaching and learning, we often think about the student with a particular learning need or challenge – a student with a visual or auditory impairment, for example. At least one in five people in the UK have a long-term illness, impairment or disability so, as a lecturer at the university, it’s likely that you will teach students who have specific needs and face particular challenges which you will need to accommodate when designing learning opportunities and materials. Whilst it’s essential to accommodate the needs of any students with a particular need, it’s important to remember that ALL students benefit from clear and accessible learning experiences, resources and materials so it’s important to design teaching and learning to be as accessible as possible for all to ensure everyone is included and has equal access and opportunities to benefit fully.
This could range from a visual or auditory impairment, to being dyslexic or having a mobility difficulty. In order for students with specific needs to fully access their learning, it’s essential that their learning experiences, resources and materials are created to be as accessible as possible. For example, you might teach a visually impaired student who has a screen reader on their laptop. They will need you to add descriptions to any images in any documents you produce so the screen reader can read this to them.
T & L Dean Clare Furneaux – accessibility and policy on inclusive practice
There are various aspects to accessibility and inclusivity, which include
how staff can meet those requirements,
and how the technologies we provide are accessibility compliant.
The University of Reading has a diverse student body, with students from home or abroad, who either require or can benefit from efforts to increase accessibility to the materials they will be learning with. Our commitment to inclusivity and providing accessible learning to all is reflected in the University’s Curriculum Framework.
Please see the University’s Policy on Inclusive Practice in teaching and Learning for more information on expectations.