#96 Accessibility

Linked in with Health & Safety and DDA is the issue of accessibility.

When you create materials for your pupils, do you supply alternative versions? This could be a large print edition, an audio file, a flash video, a braille version, or a high contrast copy.

This issue is becoming more and more prevalent in education, and is one that librarians should be aware of.

There are many excellent websites and blogs that deal with this issue, and offer some very detailed instruction and advice, including recommendations for free software. Some are listed below.

TechDis: Higher Education, but the issues are the same.

elearning Accessibility & Inclusion: Further Education, but again, highly relevant.

BECTA & Accessibility

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#56 Disability Discrimination Act

DDA

This is legislation that anyone working in the public sector should be aware of, particularly those who are working with young people with special needs, and those with physical disabilities.

At one level, it is about equal opportunities for those who have disabilities, both in terms of inclusiveness and physical access. However, it is usually more complicated than that. There are plenty of cases where DDA requirements are not fulfilled, due to practical, financial, or political reasons.

It is difficult to offer advice on this topic without seeming too cynical or mercenary. I would say that you should consider DDA under the following circumstances:

  • Disabled pupils (or staff) are being denied equal access or service due to poor facilities.
  • Disabled users are being treated as second class citizens due to physical restrictions.
  • Disabled users are not considered when ICT hardware and software is being sourced and purchased.
  • When your physical space is used for ‘alternative’ purposes such as exams etc.
  • When permanent encroachment on your working space is threatened, particularly if this means less space, and/or physical obstruction.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

DDA: A Summary (BBC)