Learning technologies offer excellent opportunities to make Higher and Further Education fully inclusive for people with many kinds of disabilities, as well as providing a better learning environment for all students. The drive to deliver ever-increasing quantities of visually attractive learning, support and service material, however, can lead to designs which embody insurmountable barriers to access by a range of people with disabilities. Issues of accessibility to disabled users are beginning to be addressed seriously, but there is a constant need to ensure empirically that materials, which are provided, are actually accessible.
This report is the result of research conducted into the arrangements that can be implemented by awarding bodies on behalf of disabled candidates in the UK. Findings are based on the procedures and advice made available by a selection of awarding bodies. Applications of technology in this area are of particular importance to the work of TechDis in enhancing access to learning, teaching and assessment.
With the increasing use of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in further and higher education, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) which comes into force in September 2002 has particular relevance to developers and providers of VLEs. Developers and vendors can also help to ensure that VLEs are inclusive learning media by understanding the barriers that individuals face (whether or not they use assistive technology) and creating hardware and software designed to be accessible to all users. They should also understand the importance of designing accessible VLE content in order to provide guidance for users.