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Briefing 5 Final Final

Briefing 5 Final Final

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The Higher Education Academy Building
Innovation Way, York Science Park
York YO10 5BR. Tel: 01904 717580 Fax: 01904 717505
www.techdis.ac.uk
helpdesk@techdis.ac.uk
\u00a9 TechDis 2007
Page 16
JISC TechDis \u2013 Supporting Your Needs
The JISC TechDis Advisory Service has been
responsible for this Senior Management Briefing

Series, focussing on Colleges of Further
Education across the UK. This is only one
resource of many that the Service produces for
the sectors it supports - currently HE, FE, Adult
and Community Learning and the Specialist
Colleges. There are also smaller specific projects
working within Offender Learning, Schools (14-
19) and the Business and Community
Engagement arena (3rd Stream funding within
HEFCE funded institutions).

TechDis aims to be the leading educational
advisory service, working across the UK, in the
fields of accessibility and inclusion. If you are
not fully aware of TechDis the notes below will
help you to become more familiar with the
Service and what it can offer your organisation.

Advice and Guidance- Support can be
provided in the form of:
QStaff development materials on the website
www.techdis.ac.uk.
QHelpdesk queries via email;
helpdesk@techdis.ac.ukor telephone
01904 717580.
QThe TechDis community site;
www.techdis.ac.uk/community.
All these resources have been referenced
throughout the series of briefings.
National Priorities- TechDis also works at
national levels with such bodies as Funding
Councils, specific disability organisations, key

intermediaries working within their sector or
subject \u2013 in particular Becta, JISC, the other JISC
Advisory Services, the JISC Regional Support
Centres, the Higher Education Academy and its
Subject Centre network.

Areas of work- TechDis has a very broad

remit around the themes of technology,
inclusion and disability. Areas of work include
assistive technologies, effective use of
mainstream facilities (for example, corporate
systems, e-learning and the production of e-
learning materials), transition issues,

assessment, disabled staff, e-portfolios, mobile
learning and other emerging themes.

If you would like to pass any comments or request further information, please contact TechDis viahelpdesk@techdis.ac.uk or

01904 717580.

We hope this briefing series and the resources it
provides have been of interest to you and your
colleagues. We would be grateful to receive
feedback on the Senior Management Briefing

series, and if you would like to give us your
comments an online feedback form can be found
at;www.techdis.ac.uk/SMTfeedback.
Introduction
TechDis, The Higher Education Academy Building, Innovation Way, York Science Park, York YO10 5BR.
Tel: 01904 717580 Fax: 01904 717505. helpdesk@techdis.ac.uk. www.techdis.ac.uk
TechDis is an advisory service ofJISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee
\u00a9 TechDis 2007
Page 1
www.techdis.ac.uk/getDEDgoodpractice
From Good Intention to Good Practice:
Making the Disability Equality Duty Meaningful

The Disability Equality Duty (DED) came into
force on 4 December 2006, a legal duty
requiring all public bodies to actively look at
ways of ensuring disabled people are treated
equally. Bert Massie, chairman of Disability
Rights Commission (DRC) claimed the duty \u2018will
have a major impact on the lives of disabled
people and will radically shift the way public
authorities deliver their services\u2019. Whilst some
good guidance on the Disability Equality Duty
has been available, for example on the DRC
website, this has tended to focus more on
collecting baseline data and implementing the
systems needed to acquire it. Many colleges are
currently reviewing their Disability Equality
Scheme (DES), so this is an opportune moment
to review a sample of DESs and to consider how
they might be improved in order to:

QBetter represent the good practice the college
already employs.
QBetter inform learners of the colleges\u2019 support
mechanisms.
QBetter integrate into wider college policies.

In preparing this briefing, TechDis consulted with
a range of organisations, each with expertise in
supporting disabled learners. We asked each
organisation to suggest key priorities for a
college in implementing genuine disability
equality. They were also asked for the kind of
support, services or consultancy they could
offer individual colleges. We then compared this
information with the kind of information
available on college DESs by sampling 10% of
English Further Education Colleges. Given that
the biggest influence on a learner's experience
is what goes on in the learning environment, we
were particularly interested in any references to
inclusive teaching and learning, assistive
technologies or inclusive learning resources.

The research showed there was a significant
under representation of the role of assistive
technologies in the DESs sampled. For many
colleges, assistive technology consists of a
narrow range of expensive software provided on
an ad hoc basis, but in reality a wide range of
free or open source technologies exist. Few of
these technologies match the sophistication of
commercial software, but they do offer a

TechDis Senior
ManagementBriefing 5
JISC
\u00a9 TechDis 2007
Page 2

repertoire of inexpensive solutions which can
provide benefits for both disabled and non-
disabled learners. The final section of this
briefing explores some of the possibilities and
provides links to downloads, evaluations and
selected video clips.

Advice from the Specialists

TechDis contacted seven national organisations
with expertise in supporting disabled learners,
to ask for their top priorities in effectively
implementing the DED. The organisations

contacted included AbilityNet, Becta, The BRITE

Initiative, Learning and Skills Network (LSN),
Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), Royal
National Institute of the Deaf (RNID) and SKILL:
The National Bureau for Students with
Disabilities. The following themes were identified
in order of significance.

Staff Training and Awareness

All of the organisations pointed to the
significance of staff training. This included both
generic disability awareness training and more
specific training geared towards those who
work directly with disabled learners. A point
brought out by most of the specialists was the
importance of a whole organisational approach
- recognising that the learner\u2019s experience is as
much to do with the library and learning
resources staff, receptionists and administrators
as it is to do with the teaching and learning staff
or additional support staff. Both BRITE and RNID
recognised that having an accessible curriculum
requires quite specific training for teaching and
learning staff if disabled learners are going to
participate at the same level as other learners.

Actively Involving Disabled Learners

The second most common theme to emerge
was the involvement of disabled learners at
every stage. For example, AbilityNet pointed out
the importance of the learner playing an active
part in the assessment of need, so that they had
opportunities to trial different technologies or
adaptations. The more the learner is involved in
suggesting alternative approaches or
adjustments, the more likely they are to be

successful. It was also pointed out that the
learners should be involved in ongoing active
evaluation of solutions. An appropriate

adjustment at the beginning of the course may
be less appropriate as time goes on and the
learner\u2019s confidence and independence grow.
Effective Transition Planning

Along with actively involving disabled learners,
was the importance of timely and effective
transition planning. This involves effective liaison
with feeder schools and communication with
relevant agencies. There are also implications
within the college for early assessment of need,
involving curriculum specialists, additional
support staff and technical staff. For more
detailed information and guidance on effective
transition planning see the TechDis Senior
Management Briefing \u2018Transition Arrangements -
Partners, Processes and Funding Issues\u2019 which
can be found atwww.techdis.ac.uk/getbriefings.

Effective Use of Technology

The importance of effective technology support
was highlighted by AbilityNet, RNID and RNIB.
The client groups supported by each of these
organisations can benefit enormously from an
appropriate technology infrastructure. The RNID
highlighted generic technologies for reception
(counter loops, textphones or TalkByText)
teaching spaces (induction loops for meeting
rooms, seminar rooms and lecture theatres) and
commercial paging systems to protect deaf and
hard of hearing learners in the event of a fire.

AbilityNet raised the importance of effective
technology training for the learner. No matter
how good the technology is, if the learner has
limited training or confidence, the level of
support they experience will be equally limited.
They also highlight the importance of
communicating the accessibility options
available in everyday software from Microsoft\u00ae
Office products through to Virtual Learning
Environments, intranets and websites.

Alternative Formats

Nearly half the organisations contacted
highlighted the availability of alternative formats
in their top five priorities. An important part of

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