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Resources to assist students who are blind or have a vision impairment

Online learning is getting fairer for University and Vocational Education and Training (VET) students who are blind or have a vision impairment with the development of two new resources designed for the Australian tertiary education sector.

These resources were produced by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program and the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET).

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for accessible online learning so all students could continue with their studies,” ADCET Manager Darlene McLennan said.

“We need to do a lot more to make universities and VET inclusive of people who are blind or vision impaired. The new guidelines are a practical tool for teaching staff to make their online lectures and other learning resources accessible and inclusive of all students,” Ms McLennan said.

Deakin University student Layla Clarkson-Eather is vision-impaired and says the new ADCET resources will be beneficial for her online learning.

“Not a lot of people know about how to make education accessible, like what a screen reader is, or how to make things contrast well and easy to see. Educators having that knowledge and putting it into practice will be really beneficial,” Ms Clarkson-Eather said.

“I believe that the new resources will not only help people who are blind or low vision, but they will help other sighted people or other disabilities,” she said.

The two resources were part of a national initiative to address the unique challenges of COVID-19 for disability practitioners in tertiary settings. They were informed by research by Vision Australia This link takes you away from the ADCET page, which highlighted the online learning challenges experienced by higher education students who are blind or vision impaired.

“It is important that there is a consistent approach across the higher education and VET sector, so that a student who is blind or has low vision can be sure that they will not be allowed to ‘fall through the cracks’ no matter which tertiary institution they attend,” Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton said.

Explore the Online Access for Tertiary Students who are Blind or Vision Impaired e-Learning module and Guidelines and complete the free e-Learning module This link takes you away from the ADCET page to increase your understanding of developing and facilitating teaching practice.

Why accessible education matters

To mark the launch of these new resources, we asked students, educators and practitioners why accessible education matters to them.