For those hard of hearing, struggling with dyslexia, or another disability as a college student, online teaching services have provided an ease of access to many UK university students in the switch to online course delivery and students services. For those who have mobility issues, not having to navigate a bustling campus or being able to control your study environment has eliminated some stresses for students However, that hasn’t been the case across the board for all UK university students. According to the BBC, the Disability Rights UK disabled student helpline has had hundreds of calls from students with concerns over slide presentations, reading lists, and handouts not always being accessible in advance of a class. In fact. out of 4,000 students in a recent National Union of Students survey, 27% of students said they were unable to access online learning during COVID-19 lockdown in the spring.
Ensuring that your campus is accessible to all student is critical for a university brand and the success of its students. Dr. Julie McElroy, who lives with cerebral palsy and has worked extensively with the Scottish government to implement accessibility policy, reiterates this point in her recent opinion piece for The Scotsman:
Going forward, there is a need for an inclusive universal design approach to be embedded in all types of processes, policies, and products and for services to be designed to be usable by everyone, to the utmost extent possible and without the need for modification or specific design.
Additionally, here are some key tips to ensure inclusivity on your campus for all students:
- Communicate with faculty and staff about removing ambient/background noise, removing muffled talking, and other incidentals that might be a distraction for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have ADHD;
- Routinely make sure your university offerings are helping your most vulnerable students through quarterly surveys,
- Implement mandatory training session with faculty and staff on the best ways to teach to disabled students so that course work is accessible to all;
- Actively communicate and connect with staff, campus leaders, and disability services offices to collaborate on ways to support your students. A solution that works for one student, may not work for another, particularly if they are faced with a myriad of challenges; and
- Provide each student with a sign language interpreter, course talking points given ahead of the class, and text-based interpretation for those hard of hearing.
With Symplicity Access, educational institutions can effectively help with all of the necessary services students with disabilities and learning difficulties need on a fully new level. With our user-friendly platform, universities are able to simplify the delivery of reasonable adjustments to disabled students for a better user experience, higher accountability, compliance and transparency across the institution plus increased operational efficiency and savings for the university. Additionally, through its intuitive, mobile-friendly student interface, it’s easy for disabled students to find how they can get the support they need. This allows for effective communication among students, teachers, staff, and family members to ensure that disabled students whose academic coursework has been impacted by COVID-19 can get the critical support they need to succeed academically and beyond.