The examples below are included in order to bring to life why accessible ICT is so important in the Higher Education context. They draw on the interviews Intopia conducted with the Advisory Panel as well as stories Intopia has collected from talking to people with disability over many years.
Essentially, we're referring to accessibility for the 4.4 million Australians that explicitly identify during ABS surveys as having "any limitation, restriction or impairment which restricts everyday activities and has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months"
. Others who might be impacted, but not necessarily counted in the ABS statistics, include:
We're also including people who have a temporary disability like a broken arm or an eye or ear infection or a situational disability like using a mobile device in the sunshine.
The following are some illustrative positive experiences as a result of addressing accessibility in procurement or implementation.
In the course of working in the digital accessibility field, Intopia has heard of many instances where inaccessible ICT has directly had a negative impact on an individual's ability to perform their work duties, study or live their lives without having to tackle obstacles others do not face.
The examples are frustrating to hear and have often meant that the person in question has been unable to continue in their job or has not been able to complete their studies. During the discussions with the project Advisory Panel members, we heard more of these invaluable anecdotal stories.
Naturally, we have taken care to anonymise these examples so that individuals are not identifiable. All of them demonstrate the consequences for real people of procuring ICT which is not accessible.
All of these examples are based on real stories told to us either in the course of preparing this guide or as part of our other work on digital accessibility. They were told to us by real people from their personal experiences. They all show the consequence of either procuring inaccessible products, or not implementing the accessibility features when they have existed. They also show how easy it is to shift responsibility from where it lies (with the vendors and the procurement process) to the individuals experiencing inaccessibility. Often these people were made to feel like they were the problem, rather than the issue being failure to procure and/or implement accessible solutions.
A better solution is to normalise accessibility. We can do this by requiring accessibility as a standard criteria in the same way as security and privacy are the norm. Ensure that accessibility features are turned on as a matter of course – don't wait until somebody is forced to request that they be activated.
During our conversations, we heard stories of simple but powerful solutions, such as the use of captions for all presentations, regardless of whether an individual has been identified. When accessibility is the norm, it is no longer an accommodation.
Eleven different groups of students with disability share their Tips for Academics to improve their experiences.
A study by Michigan State University concluded that, "Captions are beneficial because they result in greater depth of processing by focusing attention, reinforce the acquisition of vocabulary through multiple modalities, and allow learners to determine meaning through the unpacking of language chunks."
To see how adding captions and transcripts to media content impacted students, University of Wisconsin-Extension surveyed their Sustainable Management students and found that 50% used the downloadable transcripts as study aids.The students appreciated that they could print the text, read along with the media, and highlight important parts as the instructors presented.
Closed captions can greatly enhance the experience for viewers who are not native English speakers. Georgia Tech found that captions helped their many ESL students better understand videos since they can read along while they listen. This improves comprehension, teaches listeners new vocabulary, and reinforces correct spelling.
Please note: We view this as a living resource and welcome feedback. We are improving our website to ensure this content is fully accessible for all users. There is also a fully accessible version of the content available on the ADCET website. We welcome feedback about the content and its accessibility as part of our ongoing process for improvement — email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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