Accessibility of eLearning

training and experience as factors in the accessibility discussion

training and experience as factors in the accessibility discussion

by Jennison Asuncion -
Number of replies: 3

In some of the discussions on accessibility and eLearning for students with disabilities we have had so far, one issue that has come up is training and experience on the part of the students, especially on the use of some of the more sophisticated adaptive software and hardware, along with mainstream applications.

Consider the following two scenarios.

1.  A PowerPoint presentation has been created to be completely accessible; however, the student does not know the commands in their adaptive software or hardware to access it. Compound this with the student possibly having little to no training in the basic functionality of PowerPoint.

2. A web-based piece of eLearning has been developed to be fully accessible. Again here, picture the student who  does not know how to use the browser and/or the adaptive hardware or software.

Have any folks here encountered this type of situation where it was uncovered that the problem was actually either a lack of necessary training or experience on the part of the end-user and not necessarily an issue of something being inaccessible?

 

How are learners with disabilities being trained in the use of adaptive software and hardware where you are?

 

I raise this, because I have seen a couple of cases where students have declared something as not being accessible. However the issue ended up being that they just did not know how to use their adaptive technology in combination with the application.

 

Jennison

In reply to Jennison Asuncion

Re: training and experience as factors in the accessibility discussion

by Janice White -

How are learners with disabilities being trained in the use of adaptive software and hardware where you are?

What a thought-provoking question! Where I worked previously in Further Education, Disability Consultants (most specialising in one area of disability) would provide adaptive technology etc after consulting with individual students.

One example I remember is a young man studying basic computing, who had the use of only one arm, as provided with "Five Finger Typist" software - I was allocated to tutor him in his home on how to install, set-up and use the software. Another obvious area demanding significant input of time from the user (and support person if applicable) is 'training' voice recognition software. I worked with a student who had an intellectual disability, another with a brain injury, to support them in the set-up and use of this technology (basic as it is).

However, your question has made me think about how some of the students knew how to use the supplied technology. Many have already been in established contact with support organisations outside educational institutions and may have learned about various adaptive equipment etc that way; others perhaps learn directly from the consultant supplying the technology.  I have seen students helping teachers use the technology! (Thinking of FM receivers/microphones for students with hearing impairment).

Do all the technology (hardware and software) manufacturers supply training and/or manuals/web-based & CD-ROM based tutorials? These skills I've mentioned can't be assumed - to access elearning in the first place you need them!

In reply to Janice White

Re: training and experience as factors in the accessibility discussion

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
My devil's advocate hat on again. E-learning originally meant at a distance, non-campus access to education. How do you provide training to student's who aren't on campus?
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: training and experience as factors in the accessibility discussion

by Emma Duke-Williams -
As in, any student, Deirdre?
I'd certainly be interested to hear the answers for that; at present, we send out instructions to students - and have tried sending them CDs with screen captures etc.

Most students are able to work it out, but there are always going to be students who have problems - and diagnosing the cause of the problem at a distance is difficult.

I'm a lecturer (faculty), and so I also have to ask at what point we have to hand over to technical staff (e.g. to help students sort out what seems to be a firewall problem), and at what point do we have to stop - as clearly our technical staff can't diagnose every single problem - and it may be something that just won't run on the student PC, due to other restrictions in place.
That said, the only students that we have who really run into problems are those that are using work place computers, and it is their work place restrictions that are the barrier.

For students using assistive technology and/ or just ensuring that their computers are set up optimally for them, it's yet another issue.

(I'm wimping out of that for a new course we're setting up - it's going to be blended learning, and the students will come to the University right at the start. WE'll encourage them to bring their laptops, so that they can learn to access the software on a familiar machine. For those that haven't got them, we can at least familiarise them with software on our computers & hope that their own machines aren't too different....)