Mind the gap! Accessibility as everyday good practice, Sarah Horrigan, 2009
There are two main issues :
The biggest payoff of accessibility – inclusive teaching – is being obscured behind myths and misconceptions. (Cherim, 2007)
Even where people are aware of accessibility as an issue, there is a gap which exists between knowledge and translation into practice. (DRC, 2004)
What can we do about it?
It might seem that this is an issue which belongs to someone else. Something to be dealt with when a problem arises. The reality is that more often than not, our own attitudes towards it prevent us from acting on our knowledge.
There are four key things to remember:
we are not lawyers coming at this from a legal perspective
we are not web designers, coming at this from a web design perspective
we are not accessibility experts, expected to know about every accessibility issue – it’s okay to learn as you go!
we are educators and we need to think about how to make our teaching more inclusive… and consequently better for all students
Think more about inclusive teaching than “the accessibility issue”.
What’s the problem? It’s much easier to make your materials accessible from the outset, so remember to check the following: “ INCLUDE” I = Images Use descriptive alternative text and make sure that whatever the image is designed to convey is apparent N = Net Put your materials online. Whether that’s using a FirstClass forum or sending an e-mail to your students… using the Net will provide far greater access to your resources C = Clarity Use clear, sans serif fonts - make sure your writing is readable and can be read! L = Layout Think about the way you layout materials – use white space and avoid clutter U = Useful Make sure all content is useful and has a reason to be included! D = Descriptive Ensure you describe resources, either face-to-face or online. Description helps clarity helps accessibility! E = Experience Share experience. Whether that’s asking students what they want / need from you or finding out from others how they’ve handled specific accessibility issues. You don’t have to be an “accessibility expert”! People like JISC TechDis ( http://www.techdis.ac.uk ) are available with education-specific advice. Small changes = BIG DIFFERENCE References: Cherim, M. (2007), Overcoming objections to accessibility, Accessites.org, http://accessites.org/site/2007/05/overcoming-objections-to-accessibility/ (Accessed 20 May 2009) DRC (2004), “The Web: Access and Inclusion for Disabled People”, http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publicationsandresources/Documents/Disability/web_access_and_inclusion.pdf (Accessed 20 May 2009) “ If we know accessibility is an important issue… why do we do so little about it?” Ask ourselves…
Disability or limiting long-term illness affects…
1 in 6 people in the UK
There is a steady increase with age
Less than 10% of those aged 16 – 29
BUT… more than 20% of those aged 45 – 59
(Source: 2001 UK Census)
However, … accessibility is not a disability-only issue!
A simple tool… But none of my students has a disability… Accessibility Myths… It’s too expensive to make change… There’s nothing wrong with my materials… It’s not my issue… It’s too complicated and I haven’t the time… My materials will look ugly… … all of which can easily be addressed!