At a number of JISC project events recently I have suggested the following tactic to ensure accessibility is clearly addressed. This will enable us to identify and collate information for evidence, and what support was needed and eventually used (from TechDis or elsewhere). Obviously the proportion of students with accessibility needs within each project is low, but the sum total is probably equivalent to another project in itself. I therefore suggest (as I have at other JISC meetings):
- All projects identify staff and students with accessibility needs as specific stakeholders;
- Project reports should have a heading or sub-heading of ‘Accessibility issues, challenges and benefits’ to enable us to identify and collate these to compile evidence, and what support was needed and utilised; and
- Project presentations during the dissemination phase should have one slide with the same heading to demonstrate their approach i.e. the improvements their project made with respect to accessibility, and therefore remind the audience that there is opportunity for discussion on this topic too i.e. it is not an unimportant element of the project.
I believe this simple tactic will save considerable time and inform future JISC developments. It will also probably improve the general usability of all projects. I have found it very difficult to identify ‘accessibility stories’ in many project reports and if the programme team support this approach (perhaps in any future reporting templates) it will ensure it receives the necessary attention. In some of the discussions I have had with various projects it appears that having liaison with a local disability support advisor on-campus has been “enough to meet minimum requirements” – we would like to do better. Even if a project does not need us directly it still needs to share its accessibility aspects.