Welcome to the module on Accessibility in Higher Education! We understand that in today's rapidly evolving world, diversity and inclusivity are not just buzzwords, but essential values that drive the progress of societies and institutions. With this in mind, we aim to create a learning environment where every student can thrive and excel, regardless of their abilities or challenges. We know how important this is and are committed to working together to achieve it. Let's explore how we can make a difference together.

It's necessary to recognise the significance of accessibility in education. Everyone should be able to learn, and knowledge of accessibility principles and practices can enhance your learning experience and contribute to a more inclusive society. This goes beyond fulfilling requirements, to fostering a community where every individual's voice is heard, and each person's mind is valued. Let's work together to create a more empathetic and supportive environment for all learners.

As you continue on your educational and career journey, the knowledge gained from this module will be invaluable. Whether it pertains to creating digital content that is accessible to all or constructing physical environments that cater to everyone's needs, these abilities will not only enhance your professional expertise. Still, they will also provide numerous opportunities for personal growth and empathy.

We hope you are excited to join us on a journey of learning and discovery. It's important to remember that accessibility isn't a barrier, but a path to new possibilities. Together, we'll discover how Arden University embraces accessibility and how we can all play a role in building a more inclusive future.

What is a Disability?

The Equality Act 2010 says that organisations such as the University must make “reasonable adjustments” to remove barriers that would mean that a disabled student was not able to fully participate in education, facilities and other services provided for students. At Arden, we work hard to make individual, reasonable adjustments for disabled students. This can include examination adjustments, and building accessible teaching and learning resources.  For more information, click on the video to the right.

Arden's SPARK Value: Accessible

Meet Alice Chapman, a Product Developer in the Learning Design team and Co-Chair of the Disability and Wellbeing Colleague Network.  She is a passionate advocate for the importance of accessibility in breaking down physical and digital barriers and making it possible for everyone to access content, information, and their surroundings. Alice's insights are invaluable in helping us understand the critical need for creating a society that is inclusive for all. You can click on the video to find out more about Alice's introduction to accessibility at Arden.

Video Transcription

0:01 > 0:25

Hello, my name is Alice Chapman and I am the Product Developer in the Learning Design team in the Faculty of Learning and Teaching.

I'm also the Co Chair for the Disability and Wellbeing Colleague Network.

In this short video, I will be talking through an Arden Value which is especially important to highlight during our first Diversity Festival.

The value I'll be looking at is Accessible.

0:32 > 0:55

We have 5 core values at Arden which are Standout, Progressive, Accessible, Resourceful and Kindness.

We use the acronym SPARK to help us to remember them.

The values were created through a consultation process with people at Arden and each value has a set of behaviours.

For this video, I'll go through the 8 behaviours that colleagues and students work to when we think of the value Accessible.

1:06 > 1:44

Accessible behaviours 1 to 4.

1:57 > 2:25

Accessible behaviours 5 to 8

2:36 > 3:07

Continuing work on accessibility.

Working in areas of accessibility. We recognise that this is an ongoing and ever changing process so we strive to make sure that we are meeting values wherever we can.

A lot of the work happening at Arden focuses on this and throughout Diversity Festival. This year you will have the chance to see some of the amazing things that both colleagues and students are doing to help my garden. An inclusive and accessible place to be.

Thanks for watching and see you again soon.

Digital Accessibility

Join us on a journey to discover the heart of accessibility at Arden University. In this informative video, Alice Chapman shares her insights on the importance of accessibility and its core value at Arden. We warmly invite you to explore how Arden's commitment to accessibility creates a diverse and empowering educational experience for all. Let's embark on this journey of inclusivity together and uncover its profound impact on our community.

Video Transcription

0:01 > 0:35

Hello, my name is Alice Chapman and I am the Product Developer in the Learning Design team at Arden University. We are part of the Digital Learning Team and I work across different areas of the team to look at and think about ways we can improve the digital learning experience.

My specialist areas are inclusive design and digital accessibility.

In this short video for Arden's Diversity Festival, I'll be talking about what digital accessibility is and introducing you to the Digital Learning Team at Arden.

0:38 > 1:10

What is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is about making digital content usable for as many people as possible.

This includes websites, virtual learning environments, mobile applications and everything that's held on them such as this video.

To help people meet these needs, there are laws and guidance in place.

At Arden, we look to follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG 2 and Universal Design for Learning Principles.

1:17 > 1:54

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG looks at 4 principle areas;

1. Perceivable. Can the user access the content according to their needs?

2. Operable. Can the user operate the interface in order to engage with the content?

3. Understandable. Can the user understand how to interact with the content

4. Robust. Can the user access the content using the digital tools that they need?

And for each principle area, there are three levels of conformance and testable success criteria which look at digital accessibility through a number of different areas.

2:09 > 2:50

Universal Design for Learning.

Universal Design for Learning, or UDL is an approach to teaching and learning that aims to improve learning for all.

It looks to create a curriculum that provides genuine learning opportunities for each and every person through flexible learning opportunities in design, noting that the best way of learning is not the same for everyone.

UDL looks at neuroscience and tells us that our brains have 3 broad networks which are broken down into three areas of learning in the UDL Framework;

·   Representation

·   Action and Expression

·   Engagement.

2:56 > 3:41

Digital Learning Team.

Arden's Digital Learning Team work closely with academics and subject matter experts to design brand new modules, maintain existing learning materials, and help our colleagues make accessible, appropriate and creative use of technology.

We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in learning technology, multimedia design, project management and learning design.

One of the Digital Learning Team Core values is to create accessible, high quality digital learning experiences for our students.

And our focus for digital accessibility is on the WCAG and integrating elements of UDL.

By removing barriers in digital content, we are opening our provision up, being more inclusive and avoiding potential barriers to access for people that identify as disabled.

3:36 > 4:02

Thank you for watching this short video on digital accessibility in the Digital Learning Team.

Stay tuned with other areas of the Diversity Festival to learn more about equity, equality, diversity and inclusion at Arden University.

Understanding Neurodiversity: A Connection to Arden University's SPARK Values 

Next, meet Lucy Anacleto our Programme Lead for the PG Cert Neurodiversity.  In this video, Lucy explores the intriguing concept of neurodiversity and its profound connection to one of Arden University's core values: Accessibility. In our modern world, there is growing awareness of the importance of "neurodiversity". This term recognises and celebrates the unique differences in how our brains function. In this enlightening presentation, Lucy will explore the heart of neurodiversity and offer valuable insights into how Arden University's commitment to accessibility embraces and supports this vital concept.

Understanding Neurodiversity: A Connection to Arden University's SPARK Values 

In this follow-up video, Lucy Anacleto introduces the PGCert in Neurodiversity and the Neurodiversity Network at Arden University. If you would like to be a part of those brilliant initiatives please get in touch with Lucy to make a change with the help of research and collaborative efforts.

More on Accessibility and Inclusion

Inclusive Pedagogy 

It is essential to create an environment in education where everyone feels included. By using inclusive pedagogy strategies, educators can ensure that all students have an engaging and diverse classroom experience. This means that every student can learn in a way that works for them. 

Please click on the image on the left to discover the concept of Inclusive Pedagogy.

Collaboration with Disability Services 

Discovering the advantages of working together as a team can have a significant impact on the lives of students, faculty, and disability services. Collaborating helps ensure that students receive the necessary assistance, encouragement, and materials to thrive both academically and personally. This has been demonstrated in real-life scenarios and can create a more supportive and inclusive environment for all involved.

Please click on the image on the left to take a look at the scenarios we created. This activity will help you recognise how Arden supports your needs.

There are 5 stories for you to explore that you might feel familiar with, or you may know someone who needs some support on the mentioned areas in the scenarios! 

Feel free to leave your thoughts on the Padlet board as well.