Winners of the Accessibility in Action Awards 2023
ADCET is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Accessibility in Action Awards. These awards recognise individuals, project teams, and initiatives that have made a significant contribution to advancing accessibility and promoting inclusive practices in education and training. These initiatives have particularly focused on students with disability but have a great benefit to all students.
This year, ADCET received an overwhelming response, highlighting the growing commitment and dedication to fostering accessibility in various sectors. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges with expertise in accessibility and inclusive design.
In the Individual Category, five outstanding individuals were recognised for their exceptional efforts in championing accessibility:
Kay Barnard, Equity Projects Coordinator, Edith Cowan University
It is vital that the work we do in the tertiary sector around disability, access, and inclusion, is led by those with lived experience and expertise. Lived experience work is a privilege and a responsibility to show up authentically for the communities we are part of without centring our own experiences. The initiatives we have been implementing at ECU over the last few years are making a huge difference for students with disability and I am proud to have been part of these initiatives and to add my lived experience into these projects. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team that understands and proactively creates space for staff to embed their lived experience into their professional work.
As an Autistic, and multiply disabled non-binary person, Kay has been able to apply their unique lens and extensive expertise to work that is changing people's attitudes and understandings of disability beyond the medical and social models. With their professional experience advocating for disability inclusion and rights on a national level, and their skills and experience in neurodiversity affirming practices, Kay's outstanding contributions, and hard work and dedication has made a significant impact on ECU's university wide approach in disability, access and inclusion.
Kay's range of activities include Sensory Spaces on ECU campus, training packages on neurodivergence, mentoring programs for Autistic students, working with ECU's new Disability Collective (DC) Student Guild group, and recruiting and working with students with disability in paid roles as Equity Advisors to embed student insights and experiences into the content of ECU's Designing Accessible Curriculum and Content online module for staff and more.
Rae Jobst, Educational Designer, Griffith University
Rae has been working in the accessibility space for a number of years and we are so appreciative in our community of practices at Griffith University for Rae's insights. She is always so generous and thoughtful with sharing knowledge.
Elizabeth Hitches, Academic
Ten percent of Griffith University students have declared they have a disability, this is a higher percentage of students with a disability than other Queensland university. Griffith University has recently implemented the Canvas Learning Management System with 2022/2023 being a period of migration from Blackboard to Canvas.
Rae is an Educational Designer who is tasked with supporting the migration of university courses/subjects from Blackboard to Canvas. She has a passion for supporting inclusivity and accessibility and has developed into her role and into her workshops about how to make teaching materials more accessible; how to implement UDL; and advises all staff on best practice in this area. This is beyond her position description.
Rae received six nominations for this year's awards showing the immense support for her work.
Tracy Jennings, Inclusive Resource Developer, Deakin University
Audio descriptions are a form of accessibility often forgotten about; but blind students like myself are very lucky to have Tracy ensuring we have equal access.
Student, Deakin University
Despite a huge increase in students with disability numbers over recent years, Tracy and her small team has remained the same size. Despite this, Tracy has continued to improve process efficiency, meaning despite the increase in requests, students still received an amazing service in a timely manner.
Tracy and a small team of casual staff, working with students and teaching staff, provide inclusive resources in the form of transcription, captioning and audio description for audio-visual content. In Trimester 1, 2023 students requiring Accessible Audio-Visual Materials increased by 34% from the same time last year. Already, in Trimester 1, Tracy has completed 1544 requests (as of 8/05/2023) for Accessible Materials.
Andrew Normand, Web Accessibility Lead, University of Melbourne
This award is very useful to me in my role, particularly because I am located within the University's IT Department. Sometimes IT is seen as part of the problem, rather than as part of the solution. But despite the difficult issues in accessible IT, such as how to procure products when all vendors have accessibility problems, at least we are trying to deal with the problem, rather than just putting it in the too-hard basket. And that extends all the way up to our CIO.
Andrew Normand is an early adopter and sector leader on the principles of accessible ICT procurement in Higher Education and was an instrumental part of the advisory group that created the Accessible ICT Procurement Guide for Australian Universities . Andrew shared his content, wisdom, ideas and experiences about how to incorporate accessible ICT procurement principles into university policy and practice which lead to a rich and useful resource for the whole sector. Andrew has also established an industry leading testing program which has employed over 50 students with lived experience and, is a member of the Australian Web Accessibility Initiative (OzeWAI)'s accessible ICT procurement sub-committee.
Dr Emma Ryan, Lecturer, Deakin University
Dr Ryan is an excellent role model for other academics; someone who is patient and understanding with the limits of disability but goes out of her way to be supportive and make things more accessible. I always feel a bit less anxious in any unit she chairs or teaches in.
Academic, Deakin University
Dr Ryan lectures in Criminology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. Dr Ryan went above and beyond to make her course accessible for a student enrolled in her course who is an assistive technology user. Dr Ryan went out of her way to ensure course materials were accessible by providing edited lecture transcripts and adjusting other course materials to ensure they were accessible to her students. Dr Ryan was driven by a deep sense of the social justice aspects of providing an equitable experience for this student - and this above-and-beyond work must be celebrated and commended.
Project Team winners
The Project Team Category showcased the collaborative efforts of 14 teams that have made significant strides in promoting accessibility in their respective areas. These teams have demonstrated outstanding innovation, dedication, and impact through their initiatives. The winning project teams have been grouped into categories as follows:
IMPROVING DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY
Multi-platform accessibility audit process and toolkit, Deakin University
Danielle Johnson, Manager, Experience Design (Library); Rachael Wilson, Experience Librarian (Library); Matthew Lyons, Senior Officer, Digital Content (Library), Michael Horn, Front-End & Application Developer (Library), Jeshmine Bajracharya Front-End & Application Developer (Library)
Deakin Library has a vision of enabling a vibrant, rich and inclusive ideas ecosystem to flourish. Our Experience Design (ExD) Team is an integral part of bringing that vision to life through their management of digital content platforms that underpin Deakin Library's discovery, learning and research services. The ExD Team conducted operational activities to test new and existing content and platforms for WCAG accessibility compliance. They incorporated accessibility testing into project activities to ensure accessibility is embedded into our digital experience wherever possible, reducing the need for retrofitting 'fixes' down the track.
However, there were challenges embedding accessibility consistently. To address these challenges, the ExD Team created and delivered a Multi-platform accessibility audit process and toolkit, applying this initiative across multiple content platforms and using the results to identify, implement and advocate for improvements.
Digital Accessibility Enhancement, University of New South Wales
Dr. Veronica Jiang, Seda Cokcetin, Associate Professor Helen Kang, Md Badiuzzaman
The project team, comprised of passionate advocates for diversity and inclusion, has taken a co-design and lived-experience approach to develop and publish the Digital Accessibility Guides for Learning for the UNSW Business School with over 17,000 students and 500 staff. The Guides have already had a significant impact by fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity for students and promoting diversity.
The Digital Accessibility Guides for Learning aims to enhance accessibility in online and blended learning environments. Working alongside students with disabilities, the team audited accessibility issues in nine courses, Moodle platforms, and some UNSW websites in 2022. Shockingly, none of these met the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards required by law, with over 9,863 issues identified. The team took action to address these issues, improving the learning experience of over 65,000 UNSW students. The team introduced the Guides to the UNSW Business School in February 2023. Since then, the PVCESE and Division of EDI have adopted the Guides for university-wide usage, beginning in March 2023. The team has also hosted a Pro-Vice Chancellor Education Connections Seminar based on the Guides in March 2023, where all participants improved their understanding of accessibility issues and agreed to ensure accessibility in their materials moving forward. In coming months, the team plans to host workshops in Business faculty and other faculties on digital accessibility and teaching staff to self-audit and improve the accessibility issues.
STUDENT LED / CO-DESIGNED ACTIVITY
Enhancing Digital Accessibility Student Project, Edith Cowan University
Student Equity Advisors - Digital Accessibility: Ryan Armer, Phillippa Combrink, Dale Gavlik, Maria Daniele, Josh Oldershaw, Shaun Basson
Having a disability can sometimes make studying and working feel like an unreachable dream, however, with minor adjustments and support to enable participation, it can be accessible and available to people of all abilities. Inclusive learning practices foster the belief that there is hope for a different future, despite the challenges we face. It provides us with choice and with purpose. Sharing my lived experience of studying with a disability has given me an opportunity to have my voice heard and find the support I need to achieve success in my studies. It has made me feel heard and valued and it has put the power to change my future into my own hands.
Phillippa Combrink, Student Equity Adviser
At ECU, the need for an uplift in accessible practices had been identified as a priority and was given further impetus by ECU's participation in Higher Education for All. This project from the Centre for Accessibility aims to support the WA higher education sector in making web content more accessible, as part of ECU's transition to a new Learning Management System across 2021-22. Whilst staff sought to provide inclusive, student-focused learning experiences and services, there was limited institutional guidance to ensure staff had the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement digital accessibility best practice.
The Centre for Learning and Teaching and Equity Projects independently prioritised creating resources for staff, and then collaborated on the development of these resources. Within this piece of work, the voice of students and lived experience was fundamental to emphasising the impact digital accessibility (and inaccessibility) and to ensure appropriate focus to practice. As such, students were employed as Student Equity Advisers, Digital Accessibility to guide and provide input into staff education and awareness.
Disability Inclusion Student Group, University of the Sunshine Coast
Bailey Weymss and Jennifer Watson, UniSC Students; Belinda Brear, UniSC Student Partnership Officer and Ciara Hablado, UniSC Student Partnership Assistant
We are honoured and humbled to accept this award as a major milestone in our endeavours to promote a culture at UniSC based on inclusion, belonging and equitable engagement for all.
We are proud of the connections our group has built with the UniSC Disability student community that has promoted a sense of belonging at university, and ensured their voice is heard in all levels of decision making.
Accessible change would not have been possible without our incredible group members and volunteers, alongside the support from the Students as Partners Team and Executive at UniSC. We thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.
Jenny and Bailey, DISG Student Co-Chairs
The Disability Inclusion Student Group (DISG) is a student-led representative group which contributes to campus inclusivity, student growth and engagement and advocacy for students with a disability. The group was established in 2021 and forms part of the UniSC Student Governance Framework which is led by two elected student co-chairpersons, Bailey Wemyss and Jennifer Watson.
In its first two full years of establishment (2022-2023) DISG championed a range of actions: advocated for accessible teaching and learning materials and spaces on campus; provided safe spaces for community building and enhancing sense of belonging; shared lived experience through local community engagement opportunities; and led disability educational events designed to break down barriers and increase awareness.
Diversified, University of New South Wales
Students: Aaron Saint-James Bugge, Josephine Bober, Chantel Le Cross
Academics: Professor Terry Cumming, Associate Professor Ian McArthur, Karen Kriss, Dr Karin Watson, Dr Alexander Smith, Dr Scott Brown, Dr Veronica Jiang
Professional Staff: Dr Holi Birman, Charlotte Long
I am honoured to be part of a ground-breaking project providing neurodivergent students and academics with a unique platform to co-design and co-produce solutions for challenges they face in academic pursuits. Being part of this team has not only given me a sense of community and support, but it has also given me the confidence and skills to pursue extracurricular opportunities and build valuable connections with UNSW academics and other students.
Aaron Saint-James Bugg, Student Project Co-designer
Diversified is a student-led project with the aim to elevate student voice in university course design - in a safe, inclusive, accessible world. It is a student-led project which aims to elevate student voice, leadership and co-design in course and assessment design to improve the learning experience of neurodivergent students.
The main impact is the continuation of Diversified, working together to make UNSW more accessible to everyone. Specific impacts include:
1. Resource uptake with over 500 sessions to assist staff working with neurodiverse students
- Guidelines for breaking down a task for neurodiverse students (118 sessions)
- Example neurodiverse enabled assessment brief (101 sessions)
- Template: neurodiverse enabled assessment brief (332 sessions)
2. Greater visibility of neurodivergence at UNSW and beyond
Through the UNSW Community YouTube 3rd Annual Inclusive Education Showcase, presented by the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute (video)
3. Student empowerment
Diversified seeks to ensure that my experience is not the norm for neurodiverse students and provides a platform to have their needs and experiences heard so they can be better understood, and so teachers and institutions can be enabled to create accessible and inclusive learning environments and community for all.
Chantel Le Cross, Diversified Student
Student Aid Program, RMIT Vietnam
Carol Witney, ELS Manager, Wellbeing; Minh Do, Student Aid Coordinator, Wellbeing; Anh Tran, ELS Technical Officer, Wellbeing; Tu Nguyen, ELS Advisor, Wellbeing; Melanie Casul, ELS Advisor, Wellbeing; and Giang Le, ELS Advisor, Wellbeing
Through my learning journey, ELS Student Aid helped me with taking notes, especially in Lab sessions where I couldn't catch up with other students because of the delay in the mouse navigation. The SA sits next to me in class, and that was also very helpful because they could show me where on the screen the mouse was located. They responded to me very quickly and clarified their notes for me, so I didn't have to wait long.
Registered Student, using SA service since 2022.
The Equitable Learning Services (ELS) team at RMIT Vietnam (Saigon South and Hanoi Campus) launched the innovative Student Aid (SA) Program in 2017 which provides supports for registered students with a range of circumstances. Student Aids are current RMIT students who work in diverse roles as notetakers, exam scribes, readers and participation assistants in lectures, practical sessions, exams and field trips.
Assistance by SA is a critical part of the comprehensive services provided to registered students to ensure their equitable access and participation in academic activities and is determined on an individual basis following careful consideration of each student’s unique support needs.
The Program nurtures the values of inclusion, integrity and professionalism among its student staff, with an aim to build a generation of Vietnamese youths who can leverage the skills and knowledge in enabling accessibility in their community and future endeavours. This is significant the Vietnamese context where there is a lack of awareness and regulations for equitable access to higher education.
Sensory Spaces, Edith Cowan University
Katherine Huck, Kiara Fletcher, Deb Duffy, Hannah Pickup, Stevie Lane, Dave Brierley, Fiona Navin and Kay Barnard
In 2020, Access and Inclusion identified an increasing number of students, particularly Autistic students, reporting challenges to engaging with the University's campuses due to a lack of sensory inclusion, leading to sensory processing and regulation difficulties. These experiences on campus were impacting these students' experiences of university, their capacity to engage with class content, and their sense of inclusion and belonging on campus.
Students with differences in sensory processing, such as neurodivergent students and/or students with psychosocial disability, experience physical barriers to accessing university spaces. Students at university with sensory differences felt that university campuses could be 'too busy', 'too loud' and that when they felt overwhelmed by sensory input as there were no spaces on campus where they could regulate or reduce their sensory experiences.
Student-specific design specifications include:
- separate spaces for active sensory regulation, peer connection and community building
- a variety of tools, resources and equipment to meet sensory needs (including for students with sensory-seeking sensory profiles)
- a focus on self-regulation and ensuring student autonomy to access the space when needed and ability to access tools independently
- a barrier free access application process that focuses on need, not specific diagnosis or disability information
- resources created by the neurodivergent community for the neurodivergent community
- accessibility of spaces for students with differing access needs and other disability experiences.
Professor Arshad Omari, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
At Edith Cowan University, we are proud of being an institution that is inclusive, celebrates diversity and understands the important role that universities play in enriching lives. Our Sensory Spaces on campus initiative is a key feature of making universities more accessible for people with sensory needs as well as starting conversations at the university on how we can meet the needs of students, staff, and community members with disability. Thank you to the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training for providing the opportunity to celebrate passionate people at our university making a difference.
Professor Arshad Omari, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
The development of the Sensory Spaces was driven by student need, and we are proud to offer this as part of a diverse range of supports and services for students with disabilities. It was a collaborative project with input from both students and staff across a range of areas and has been welcomed with overwhelmingly positive feedback. The design of the spaces, including furnishings, resources, and tools, create a calm and supportive space for students to regulate, and in turn, enhances their learning, wellbeing and sense of belonging at ECU.
Kiara Fletcher, Accessibility Adviser
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Accessibility Champions Project, Deakin University
Mahen Jayawardena, April Bjork, Lisa Foster, Tricia Ong, Karen Lake, Michael Wright, Liza Marsh, Elizabeth Delacretaz, Emily Partington, Francesca Bussey, Ismail Zengin, Mary Ishak, Matthew Griffiths, Pennie White, Rene Hahn, Darren Britten, Travis Zimmer, Ambili Sasidharan
Building a positive culture, advocating for actionable strategies, developing resources and advocating for policies and procedures to support the university-wide approach to consistent scalable and meaningful accessibility practices at Deakin University. The program is focused on reducing barriers to participation for all learners through strategically targeted accessibility practices and approaches.
There are some tangible university-wide impacts that deserve to be highlighted beyond the culture-building activities and awareness-raising activities involved in the project: The Accessibility Champions successfully led the process of migration from inaccessible unit guides. The Champions collaborated in the OneDeakin CloudDeakin unit template design project through a consultation and QA process to ensure the Deakin course templates are as accessible as possible, including usability testing with the Deakin Students with Assistive Technologies (SWAT) team. A WCAG 2.1AA and quality assurance process was initiated for the new Deakin unit design template. The Deakin University Minimum and Expected Standards for Unit Design now includes the Everyday Accessibility Basics framework (EAF), supported by the EAB webpage created by the Accessibility Champions themselves.
Embedding Accessibility, University of Newcastle
Dr Olivia Whalen, Katie Butler and Sam Rykers and the Accessibility Champions
Known for its core value of equity, the University of Newcastle works to ensure all its people have the best opportunities to succeed. Recognising that there is more to be done to enhance opportunities for students and staff with disability, an energy and commitment to better accessibility and inclusion has grown.
Student and staff consultation undertaken in 2022 highlighted a need for further capability development in areas of disability confidence training, an Accessibility Champions Network, digital accessibility and inclusive teaching and learning. A staff survey showed great enthusiasm to learn how to adopt accessible technologies and enhance their inclusive teaching practices for the benefit of all learners. Also reflected in the survey responses was a desire for Deakin to demonstrate leadership in accessibility and inclusion to better attract and retain talented students and staff with disability.
Key activities include: piloting an interactive Disability Confidence training; an Accessibility Champions Network; incorporating disability and accessibility focused content into teaching; improving the accessibility of classroom teaching technology; and creating and sharing resources among the network and beyond. Concurrently, the University's Digital Technology Solutions Unit led a partnership with Microsoft to deliver workshops ion adopting in-built Microsoft accessibility tools in learning and teaching and business areas.
These actions have demonstrated a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, building momentum for continuous implementation and action.
Accessibility Hub, Box Hill Institute, TAFE Victoria
David Beaumont, Lead Multimedia Developer, Teaching Innovations; Vivienne Bennett, Access and Disability Support Coordinator, Student Life; Annie Carney, Teaching and Learning Specialist, Teaching and Learning Enhancement; Dean Champ, Teacher Transition Education and Work Education, Faculty of Health, Community and Life Sciences; Andrew Corbett, Client Support Advisor, Information Technology Services; Samuel Edward, Manager Access and Disability, Student Life; Annemaree Gibson, Teaching and Learning Specialist, Teaching and Learning Enhancement; Tania Teese, Manager, Teaching and Learning Enhancement
It is an honour to be included in the 2023 ADCET Accessibility in Action Awards for the Accessibility Hub project at Box Hill Institute. The award validates the work done on this project across the institute to support students and staff with disability, whether or not they choose to disclose. The Accessibility Hub is a self-service destination for everyone who needs a little help sometimes.
The Accessibility Hub team
The Accessibility Hub project is a collaboration between Teaching and Learning Enhancement and Teaching Innovations, led by Annie Carney and Andrew Corbett. It contains information on campus services and assistive technology, which includes equipment and software. The project ran from June to December 2022, when the Hub was launched.
The initial focus was on researching accessibility touch points: from student enquiry to graduation; from the toilets to the carpark. The team used a user-centred design thinking approach to ensure that they understood the issues from the perspective of key Hub users. They conducted interviews with students with disability and their teachers. The resulting challenge statement was: How might we improve current accessibility processes and information for learners with diverse needs to level the playing field?
Colleagues from across the organisation were invited to take part in an ideation session to share and discuss the project. An Accessibility Hub team in MS Teams was used to organise meetings and collaborations with interested Box Hill Institute staff.
The Hub is available on the Box Hill Institute website and Moodle site with no login required, making it accessible to everyone. For more information visit https://studentweb.bhtafe.edu.au/accessibility
Foundation Maths Program, Deakin University
Staff partners Student Academic and Peer Support Services: Dawn Jones, Manager, Peer Support Services; Kim Jones, Coordinator, Peer Support Services; Tom Petsinis, Coordinator, Peer Support Programs (Maths and Numeracy); and Megan Theodore, Coordinator, Peer Support Programs (Maths and Numeracy)
Student partners: Eliza Osborn and Molly Mckenzie, Student Partners
We are delighted to receive an Accessibility in Action Award for our Foundation Maths Program. For some students, understanding mathematical concepts can be challenging, and this can discourage them from pursuing many different courses or careers. We hope this award will help raise awareness of our program so that ANY Deakin student who may face barriers knows support is available to them. By having this maths resource available to all students, we hope that everyone will have the same opportunities to achieve their goals.
The Foundation Maths Program Team
Maths is a foundational subject that is often required for various career pathways, particularly in STEM fields. Many students lack confidence in their maths ability or find they lack the necessary underpinning skills to progress their understanding of more complex maths concepts. In addition, students with disabilities may face challenges when it comes to learning mathematical concepts. Some may find it difficult to interpret visual images such as graphs, charts, and diagrams. This can hinder their understanding of mathematical concepts and put them at a disadvantage.
By making maths accessible to all students, including those with disabilities, we can help them build a strong foundation in math, which can open doors to future academic and career opportunities. The Foundation Maths Program was developed by Deakin University's Student Academic and Peer Support Services as a resource for any student requiring maths support, integrating a Universal Design for Learning approach, and accessibility throughout.
High-level Digital Accessibility Support for Subject Design, University of Technology Sydney
Katie Duncan, Ashley Willcox, & Elham Hafiz, Inclusive Practices Support Officers| LX.lab Inclusive Practices Team
Justin Dewhurst Accessibility Consultant & Liz Penny Manager, Accessibility and Financial Assistance Services | UTS Accessibility Service
The success of this program is by taking a collaborative approach to accessibility. While accessibility is everyone's responsibility, it is important people feel supported in an organisation to implement what is required to reach an acceptable standard of digital accessibility. The collaborative approach and wide skill set the IP team brings to staff upskill and development, has proven to improve digital accessibility ross the organisation moving forward.
Ollie Coady, Acting Head, LX.Lab, UTS
Students with access requirements are faced with many barriers when engaging content, assessments, and activities in their online learning. This can lead to a negative experience for students with such requirements, and in some cases leads to dropping the subject, or even their degree, contributing to poor retention rates.
To prevent this from happening, a cross functional team collaboration at UTS formed a pilot in 2022. This was identified as an emerging gap in implementation of Digital Accessibility brought to light as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This team has continued into 2023 with the mandate to provide proactive, high-level support services for subject coordinators aiming to implement digital accessibility standards for students with complex accessibility requirements. This new service has resulted in a collaboration between experts of student support the Accessibility Services team collaborating with the experts of the learning and teaching digital ecosystem the LX.lab's Inclusive Practices team aiming to raise the standard of Digital Accessibility across UTS.
The success of this program is by taking a collaborative approach to accessibility. The collaborative approach and wide skill set the IP team brings to staff upskill and development, has proven to improve digital accessibility across the organisation moving forward.
Inclusive Design Standards, TAFE NSW
Inclusive Design Team, Educational Quality Enhancement Team, Product and Quality Group:
Naomi McGrath, Teresita Eslava, Gail Mercado, Carla McMillan, Kelly Connor, John Fardoulis, Kathy Simic, Stephen Belbin, Kerrie Hammond, Sue Wakefield, Danicka Ryan, Stacey Mathers
Thank you for your incredible work producing the Articulate Rise 360 Product Development Guide. This resource will help new and existing external vendors, as well as other teams within TAFE, understand what is required to deliver an inclusive, student friendly learning experience. This clearly demonstrates the TAFE NSW value of Collaboration. We at the External Development Channel really appreciate the effort this must have taken and are so excited to be able to share this with our external vendor teams. You all simply rock!
Senior Manager, External Production.
TAFE NSW has over 400,000 enrolled students; 11% of students have disclosed as having disability, 10% of students identify as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and 24% of students speak a language other than English. Given this cohort of students, it is imperative to provide accessible and inclusive teaching and learning approaches that enable students to feel comfortable learning, engaging, participating, and succeeding in their studies.
The team delivers impressive results due to their motivation and passion towards diversity, accessibility, usability and UDL (Universal Design for Learning). The team have created support material and resources for over 170 staff directly involved in product development. They have also ensured that staff know the importance of inclusive design through training and support developing Inclusive Design Standards (IDS) to embed inclusivity as an integral part of the overarching TAFE NSW Strategic Plan 2022 - 2025.
The primary aim of the IDS is to lead a culture of inclusiveness across the Product and Quality Group by outlining the obligations and considerations for all staff when developing learning and assessment resources. Resources include checklists, teaching and learning templates, guidelines on creating closed captions and transcripts, HTML transcript and long image description templates, guidelines for using H5P for learning resources, quality writing standards for education resources, and Articulate Rise 360 product development reference guide.
With the IDS project, these inclusive resources and delivery practices will be refined and consolidated into 5 domains:
- accessible information and communication technology infrastructure
- using clear and concise language across literacy levels
- UDL in learning design activities
- sense of connection, identity and purpose within learning through appropriate cultural authenticity
- easy user interfaces are to operate and access.
CQU Renew Accessible Moodle Template
The Learning Design Team and Innovative Directorate: Nadine Adams - Senior Learning Designer; Zoe Allen - Associate Learning Designer; Faith Appleton - Senior Learning Designer; Marie Foreman - Senior Learning Designer; Rob Hoyland - Associate Learning Designer; Nicholas Lawler - Learning Designer; Paul Oliveri - Senior Learning Designer; Rikki Scott - Associate Learning Designer; Monique White - Senior Learning Designer; Sean White - Associate Learning Designer; and Justin Wylie - Learning Designer.
Prior to the commencement of the CQU Renew Accessible Moodle Template project, our online learning platform (LMS) had no standard structure and required students to learn to navigate each site for every subject they studied, increasing their cognitive burden.
CQUniversity (CQU) aims to be the most accessible university in Australia. With this goal in mind, we recognised the need to address the consistency issues with the layout and design of online learning platform. As all of our learning materials and assessment submissions are accessed through this platform, our existing layout and design could disproportionately affect the learning experience of our students, especially those from disadvantaged groups.
To identify the specific challenges faced by these groups, student focus sessions were conducted identifying a range of accessibility and design issues. Most notably, 100% of students in the focus groups indicated that they would like all Moodle sites to have the same look and layout.
Drawing on evidence based Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and strategies, as well as Web Content Accessibility (WCAG) guidelines, CQUniversity's Learning Design & Innovation (LDI) developed an accessible template for the LMS that would provide a consistent and accessible learning experience for all students, regardless of their background or abilities.
Educational neuroscience based instructional design resulted in a template with consistent headings covering Weekly Study Plan and Objectives, Learning Material, Learning Activities, Lecture Material, Tutorial Material, Additional Resources and Milestones/summary.
In addition to the winners, four initiatives were recognised as Highly Commended for their exceptional contributions to accessibility.
Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability, The Australian Council of Learned Academics (ACOLA)
(Co-Chairs), UNSW: Professor Karen Fisher FASSA (Professor at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW) and Professor Iva Strnadova (Professor in Special Education and Disability Studies, UNSW)
Project contributors: Professor Gerad Goggin FAHA, Uni of Sydney; Professor Cathie Sherrington FAHMS, Uni of Sydney; r Erol Harvey FTSE, Bionics Institute
Research support staff: Dr Scott Avery, Professor Bree Hadley, Dr Laura Davy and Dr Damian Mellifont.
ACOLA staff and policy support: Dr Jade McEwen, Dr Lauren Palmer, Tim Wotton
A project like this one, led by people with disability at every level, engendered engagement and trust with the people who can now use the resources it created.
Professor Iva Strnadova
The project aimed to address the exclusion, discrimination, and marginalisation that many people with disability face when accessing services.
The lack of responsiveness by the workforce to people with disability is often due to a lack of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, as well as the processes and culture within organisations. This project aimed to bridge the gaps in our understanding of how the training system can best support the workforce in developing the necessary level of responsiveness without necessarily adding burden or increasing the length of courses, especially in a COVID-stricken and resource-constrained world.
The project focused on the role of various stakeholders, from educators and training providers to professional bodies and governments, in developing inclusive and responsive courses to create a more equitable society. By implementing all aspects of the project's Action Plan, people with disability in education settings, as well as employers, service providers, and the wider community, stand to benefit significantly. The project's outcomes will help create a more inclusive and equitable society that recognises and values the contributions of people with disability.
For more information visit ACOLA Report: Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability
TEACHING AND LEARNING
An integrated Approach to Embedding Open Education Resources in a Large First Year Unit, Deakin University
Tricia Wevill, Patricia Corbett, Rachel Lee, Bill Borrie and Trevor Thornton
I'm very proud to nominate the SLE103 teach team. I am a Librarian and work across many units supporting embedded learning resources such as readings. I have witnessed the clear impact of this work on students and have helped other colleagues who were inspired by what they achieved. I believe this project is a clear testament to how grassroots changes can lead to better outcomes for all learners and inspire colleagues to uplift their practices to ensure inclusion for all.
Alyce Greenwood, Deakin University
The SLE103 teaching team provided sector wide leadership by taking an integrated approach to embedding open education resources (OER) in a large first-year unit. The unit has been running for over twenty years and required students to purchase a custom textbook. To support equity of access and inclusive learning design the team worked to adopt OER into the unit to replace the need for students to purchase a textbook. The readings were made available online as accessible downloadable PDFs to ensure learner access.
As a result of this 99% of students reported that the learning resources in the unit helped them to achieve the learning outcomes. The adoption of OER has served as an exemplar to colleagues across the sector and inspired fellow colleagues to take on similar work. Thus, the inclusive approach has had ripple on effects across the university and beyond. The team's work is an excellent example of addressing accessibility issues and demonstrates a commitment to ensuring an equitable experience for all learners.
Sustainable Disability Support, Kangan Institute, TAFE Victoria
Priyanka Choudhury, Team Leader, Student Support; Ms Faye Sakelariou, Disability Liaison Officer, Student Support; Mr Peter Battaglia, Disability Liaison Officer, Student Support
Bendigo's Kangan Institute prides itself as a progressive leader in providing the best educational experience for students. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kangan Institute increased access to education from individuals from all walks of life due to the need to upskill and reskill. To meet this demand, the team strategy proactively addressed barriers experienced by students with a disability exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
Kangan Institute students experienced a backlog of 50+ students losing access to scheduled placement opportunities. The team implemented solutions to engage Kangan Institute students studying disability and community service courses in authentic and supervised professional placements within the Student Support team. By providing a powerful and effective peer support service for students with a disability, disability support was better integrated with a resource-wise approach. As a result, the program resulted in an inclusive workplace experience for students on placement and individualised support for students with disabilities, leading to strong educational and job outcomes.
It developed peer-to-peer systems that enabled academic and vocational outcomes. The team since built upon this program by deploying several other support mechanisms for students with a disability. This includes providing additional mental health support, transitioned to virtual support, and invested in support areas to empower students on their educational journey.
The sustainability disability practice continues post-lockdown to support students with disability and on placement for continued peer support and cost-effective strategy. The team's efforts, collaboration and passion for continued support has been key to making this program successful.
Developing a Student-centric Accessibility Service, The University of Canterbury (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Gillian Smith, Jordon Milroy, Filia Armstrong-Marks, David Fletcher, Erin Loo
At the end of 2020 the Equity and Disability Service at UC was reviewed and came up short in a number of areas. Change was necessary, in all areas of the Service. In 2021 EDS at UC registered 975 students and in 2022 there were 1109 students registered. There are 20,000 FTE students enrolled at UC and the Tertiary Education Commission TEC suggested that 25% of them need our service. We worked on the assumption that there are 4000 students that could benefit from our service, and they needed to know about us.
In 2022 we increased our profile and put students at the centre of our practice. We changed our name to Te Ratonga Whaikaha | Student Accessibility Service after consultation with students. This inclusive name means we aim to ensure access to academic success for students with disabilities, impairments, and illnesses - in fact, any student with an accessibility issue.
Our process is now based on relationship building and focused on student's strengths - a far cry from the original medical model. We work closely with each student and respect each student's right to privacy, and to share (or not share) their own story. Our Accessibility Advisors are empathetic and capable so we can support students in an array of ways such as offering neurodivergent coaching to support executive dysfunction, improved provision of Assistive Technology, formed a Student Advisory Executive board; work closely with the Disability Action Plan, addressing building accessibility and providing a vibrant and interactive presence at major student events.