GUIDELINES ON THE INCLUSION OF
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN
OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING
(ODL) USING OPEN SOLUTIONS
FROM EXCLUSION TO EMPOWERMENT: THE ROLE OF ICTS FOR PERSONS WITH
DISABILITIES
NEW DELHI, INDIA 24-26 NOVEMBER, 2014.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DIANNE CHAMBERS
[email protected]
15% (1 billion) people in the
world have a disability. It is vital
that they are able to access
appropriate education.
RATIONALE
In some countries distance
education is provided at all levels
of education, including primary,
secondary and tertiary levels.
Development is not at the same
level or pace in every country.
Developed by UNESCO, in close
collaboration with international,
regional and national partners.
Contribute to the implementation
of relevant articles of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities (UN,
2006).
Stakeholders include: policy and
decision makers, distance learning
institutions, quality assurance and
recognition bodies, educational
institutions, teacher associations,
civil societies dealing with
disability issues, families and
persons with disabilities.
The guidelines build on lessons
learned from champions of
distance learning and their
experience dealing with disability
issues.
Central to these guidelines is how
open solutions (e.g. Open
Educational Resources – OER; Free
and Open Source Software –
FOSS) can ensure that
technological developments, new
pedagogical approaches,
software and course content are
provided in diverse formats
Such guidelines do not currently
exist and their development and
use may lead to a more ethical,
and sustainable world, a world
where everyone would have
access to education.
PURPOSE OF THE GUIDELINES
•
To provide a foundation for governments, civil society organisations, industry
and educational institutions to incorporate the needs of persons with
disabilities in open and distance learning (ODL).
• The wide range of available open and distance learning (ODL) methods, in
tandem with open educational solutions (e.g. Open educational resources –
OER and free open source software - FOSS), can enable persons with
disabilities to learn and contribute knowledge and skills to their communities.
• Accessibility should be one of the criteria used by quality assurance and
recognition bodies as well as other relevant stakeholders in their working
processes and practices.
DEFINITIONS
Persons with Disabilities
• Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical,
mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with
various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in
society on an equal basis with others (UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities [UNCRPWD], 2006, Article 1, para. 2).
DEFINITIONS-ODL
Open and Distance Learning (ODL)
• refers to the provision of flexible educational opportunities in terms of
access and multiple modes of knowledge acquisition .
•
The term ‘Open’ in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) refers to “…any scheme
of education or training that seeks systematically to remove barriers to learning,
whether they are concerned with age, time, place or space. With open learning,
individuals take responsibility for what they learn, how they learn, where they
learn, how quickly they learn, who helps them and when they have their learning
assessed” (Distance Learning UK, 2003, para 1).
•
The use of open in open solutions refers to software and courseware that is
freely available, or open, to all users, at prescribed levels of access.
DEFINITIONS - OER
Open Education Resources (OERs)
• Open Educational Resources (OERs) are any type of educational
materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open
license .
• OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes,
assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation. OERs
“…allows users to legally and freely use, copy, adapt, and re-share” .
DEFINITIONS – FOSS & OA
• Free and open source software (FOSS)
• refers to software that has been designed by a person or group and
then distributed freely for use.
• Open access to scientific information (OA)
• is the provision of free access to peer –reviewed scholarly and
research information for all .
RESEARCH
•
Areas examined in the literature on ODL and persons with disabilities include:
• legal and technical issues;
• supports and services;
• efficacy of distance education; and
• impacts for students with specific disabilities (e.g. hearing impairment , learning disability,
physical impairment)
• Findings indicate that increasing numbers of persons with disabilities are
enrolling into distance education courses and that there is huge potential for
ODL to have a significant impact on the educational pathway of many persons
with disabilities
EXISTING GUIDELINES ON INCLUDING PERSONS
WITH DISABILITIES IN ODL
•
Few guidelines exist and these generally refer to specific countries (within particular legal
frameworks, see section 508 in the USA) or contexts (e.g. specific jurisdictions, remote areas) .
•
A review of the literature identified one set of guidelines that specifically addressed accessible
distance education (Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines: California Community Colleges)
while other guidelines addressed online learning in general.
•
Most guidelines refer to the concept of Universal Design for Learning as having a key impact on
deliberations for the design of an inclusive course . Universal Design is a cost-effective and
sustainable way to achieve equitable outcomes for all people.
•
•
UDL not only requires the design of accessible information, but also an accessible pedagogy.
•
Students with disabilities must have access to all components of the course that would be available
to students without a disability.
Existing guidelines in relation to persons with disabilities often refer to web-based or online
learning or accessibility, without taking into account those ODL courses that may be offered as a
print-based course or as a blend of print and electronic media.
GUIDELINES FOR MAKING OPEN AND DISTANCE
LEARNING ACCESSIBLE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
• Address those actions that governments, institutions, teacher associations, civil
society associations, industry and regional quality assurance and recognition
bodies should consider to be pre-requisite (or introductory) actions,
implementation considerations, and monitoring processes for new and existing
ODL using open solutions such as OERs or FOSS.
ACTIONS
Prerequisite
Actions
• Selecting
Platforms
• Devising
Content
• Considering
Modalities
Implementation
Actions
• Using
Platforms
• Streamlining
Content
• Supporting
Modalities
Monitoring
Processes
• Assessing and
Adjusting
Platforms
• Determining
Suitability of
Content
• Examining
Modalities
GUIDELINES FOR GOVERNMENTS
Support and foster legislation and/or policy development to ensure persons with
disabilities are considered in Open and Distance Learning (ODL).
Facilitate liaison between all stakeholders in ODL.
Facilitate access of Persons with disabilities to appropriate assistive technology to
enhance access to ODL.
Support the inclusion of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Open Educational
Resources (OER) and Open Access (OA) research in educational documentation.
Facilitate the development of appropriate infrastructure to support ODL for persons
with disabilities.
Improve the training for instructors so that they can effectively work with students with
disabilities in ODL.
Work together with organisations and associations for persons with disabilities to
identify difficulties and solutions.
GUIDELINES FOR INSTITUTIONS
Give deliberate consideration to the potential enrolment of persons with disabilities in ODL and the
need to include differing modalities of educational delivery
Ensure that content is designed with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in mind.
Ensure that content is adaptable for a variety of users and contexts.
Examine Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open
Access to scientific research (OA) with a view to addressing accessibility issues.
Consider and address training requirements of users and familiarity with technology.
Ensure that assistive technology is able to be used to further remove barriers to learning.
Ensure that regular feedback mechanisms are in place.
Establish support services and advertise these to all participants.
GUIDELINES FOR INSTRUCTORS
Seek information on the functional capabilities of all students.
Include appropriate pedagogies which are accessible to as many participants as possible.
Initiate periodic contact with students to assess progress.
Actively examine content for accessibility on a regular basis.
Modify content according to context and modality use.
Seek OER and FOSS solutions for difficulties that may arise.
Collect and collate data on student experiences and then apply for next iteration of the
ODL.
GUIDELINES FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE AND
RECOGNITION AUTHORITIES
Apply principles of fair and non-discriminatory recognition of
qualifications undertaken in non-traditional modes (such as online and
distance learning) established in UNESCO’s regional recognition
conventions.
Develop understanding of issues related to ensuring the inclusion of
persons with disabilities in ODL.
Consider the particular areas where quality assurance and recognition
criteria may need to be re-visited to ensure quality teaching and learning
for persons with disabilities in ODL.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Impairment Type
Vision
Considerations
Students may have limited (or no) vision and be
unable to view online or printed materials in the
same way as others.
Hearing
Students will have difficulty with audio inputs on
video or with participating on online or telephone
discussions.
Mobility
Students may not be able to operate a mouse or
keyboard. They may also have difficulty accessing
buildings (if required) for any face-to-face course
component.
Learning Disability Students may have difficulty with reading, writing,
and processing information quickly or retaining
information in the same way as others.
Speech
Students may have difficulty contributing to
interactive sessions (e.g. videoconferences).
Example Accommodations
Screen Reader Software
Braille Refreshable Display
Text-only browser
Text alternatives for graphics/non-text
Adjust contrast
Text captioning or transcripts for audio/video
Sign language interpreters
Relay service (& TTY)
Printed material
Alternative keyboard or mouse
Speech recognition software
Accessible buildings
Switch interfaces
Page turners
Books on CD, Tablet or USB
Speech output on computer
Speech input to assist with writing
Text at an appropriately readable level
Use email or a chat room (where the student can type a
response) to convey thoughts and ideas
CONCLUSION
• Open and Distance Learning (ODL), coupled with free and open solutions, has
great potential to enhance educational opportunities for persons with
disabilities.
• Tools are available to developers and instructors to support their efforts in
ensuring suitability of materials for a wide range of users, and can be used
prior to, and during, implementation of ODL courses.
• These guidelines provide an overview for instructional designers and
instructors when developing ODL courses, with a view to incorporating the
needs of all users.
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