Events over the last three years have put front and centre the advantages of e-learning, as well as many of its current deficits. Yet, it is well-noted how the impact of offering multi-modal pathways deepens our education system, and fosters an inclusive and equitable learning environment for all students to succeed. In our recent report, we looked to examine how technology can build inclusive and accessible learning and student success for disadvantaged students, leading to the success of all students.
The needs of disabled students are heterogenous, and thus the way in which online educational organisations supports individuals varies widely. As e-learning proliferates, we have a golden opportunity to translate into the virtual domain learnings from physical environments alongside a broader recognition of what it is to be disabled. Notably, digital technologies lend themselves to greater flexibility and agility.
In our 2023 Embedding Universal Accessibility Through Digital Technology report, we address these necessities and more.
Here are our five ways we found that building digital accessibility on a campus can support institutions:
- Safer study: When a distance or e-learning institution builds an inclusive experience, the consequences can be profound. First and foremost, the student experience is safer. Through trust and accountable team structures, issues can be identified at an earlier stage and interventions provided at an appropriate and proportionate level.
- Improved retention: Supporting students with a disability increases retention as those who do not receive the proper support are often the first to disrupt their studies due to financial burden, assessment-related stress, health conditions or struggling to fully access their course material in a way that allows them to succeed
- Higher satisfaction & strong recruitment: Institutions are likely to see a rise in students with a disability attending higher education. To ensure a truly equitable and diverse study body, institutions should ensure that students with a disability are making up roughly 10 percent of overall student numbers and higher education must provide an inclusive experience and digital technology to remain competitive.
- Institutional risk: A slew of legal cases against universities involving death and suicide of students with a disability has found that institutions are responsible for making necessary assessments to support students holistically. This was the case in 2018 with a student suicide at the University of Bristol, which should serve as a warning sign that there are true consequences to a university’s reputation if they do not have inclusive and efficient accessibility processes in place.
- Productivity: Ensuring an institution has mechanisms in place to prevent students from having to “re-tell” their story about their disability can enhance a student’s experience by not having to email three different departments for the support they need. This also relieves the time constraints put on often understaff departments supporting these students, to enable them to have more meaningful, one-on-one time with their students.
Universities and e-learning institutions need the structures to share responsibility for accessibility and disability. Ensuring your e-learning organisation is inclusive requires time, resources, maturity, and investment. Most importantly it requires co-creation where the organisation listens and learns from disabled students and staff to challenge the status quo. To learn more about what the necessity and solutions to embedding universal accessible, download the full report here.
For more information about how over 200 universities & colleges worldwide are transforming student services with Symplicity Access, email firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a conversation via the form below.
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