Accessible e-Learning Project

SLTF Project: Supporting e-Learning among disabled students

This Senior Learning and Teaching Fellowship enables an initiative which lies at the interface between the two University learning and teaching priorities of e-learning and special educational needs and concerns accessibility of e-learning delivery and support for students with sensory and mobility impairments. Given the prominence of e-learning in the University learning and teaching priorities and the imminent launch of WebCT Vista, students at MMU will increasingly be exposed to e-learning. MMU will also be increasingly required to demonstrate full compliance with the legal (and moral) requirements of the DDA IV.

It is widely acknowledged that e-learning can benefit students with disabilities because it provides greater flexibility and enables materials to be provided in alternate textual, visual and audible formats However, e-learning can also present serious challenges to students with disabilities such as the use of mouse and keyboard for students with impaired mobility and virtual animations for those with visual impairment.

The good news is that a great deal of work has been done to address technical solutions and administrative procedures to ensure that our disabled students can obtain appropriate support throughout their career at MMU - and this represents excellent progress. However, this progress is to little avail if not incorporated into day-to-day learning and teaching. This means that among academic staff, technical solutions and procedures need to be linked to practice and we must achieve greater awareness of the needs of disabled students. These objectives need to be achieved in a way which is available, relevant and practicable for academic staff. This means practical guidance that enhances pedagogical practice, guidance written in jargon-free language, utilisation of case studies based on students studying at MMU, and provision of advisory resources which are available in a variety of formats (eg staff development workshops, web pages, MMU publications).

Project outline

The general aim of the project is to consider supporting e-learning among students with sensory (eg hearing and visual impairment) and mobility (including dexterity) disabilities. This initiative has several specific objectives:

The key outcomes of this initiative will be:

  1. Dissemination via MMU publications (LTiA), MMU staff development workshops, external conferences, external resource compilations (eg TechDis) and peer-reviewed publications. As well as contributing to pedagogical research this will also raise the profile of MMU’s high quality learning and teaching.
  2. Creation of new MMU staff development resources (handbook and supporting web pages) which are available, non-technical and non-generic.
  3. Improved compliance with DDA IV for MMU teaching staff.
  4. Improved awareness of disabilities and accessible e-learning among academic staff.