Since mid-July we have been working with a team of 5 interns. They have improved the accessibility scores of Blackboard Modules and contributed to various communications about the project. Emily, Stefan, Velina, and Sian are returning to their studies as ECS students. However, Charlotte (our Oceanography MSc graduate) is staying on for another month.
Outputs and impact
The infographic below gives an indication of impact. We worked with Deputy Heads of School (Education) to further prioritise modules where necessary. The interns were already targeting sites with large cohorts of students, and the lowest accessibility scores for the existing resources. The interns also made an appearance on the Mein podcast, took over the SUSU Instagram account, gave numerous presentations (including the CHEP Festival) and helped to create two videos that explain the new Alternative formats feature in Blackboard. Charlotte and Sian have written blog posts about their experiences.
Some of the key issues that our Allies Interns uncovered were a lack of alt text on images, use of Heading Styles to convey meaning (and improve navigation), and colour contrast in Powerpoint slides. In Digital Learning we encourage the use of the Virtual Learning Environment as more than just a file repository, and that the module site should be an evolving one. Educators do rework and update their resources over time. We also know that teaching teams change over time. How does this then sit with the large amount of remediation work our interns have just completed? How do we make sure this isn’t eroded over time and the work undone?
The team ensured that a short but thorough debrief was provided to module leads, with personalised recommendations for practice going forward. We have also invested in a full-time Learning Designer for 18 months to provide dedicated staff development for Faculties and Schools so that we can share good practice. We all have a responsibility for creating accessible content, but it can be daunting knowing where to begin. Our challenge now is to help educators to embed this in their practice in manageable ways. Fixing issues at source, through creating templates that have accessibility ‘baked in’ is one way, as is auditing our current education software and providing solutions for latex users.
Want to know more?
If you have concerns about the accessibility of your Blackboard site, please contact Serviceline. If you would like to know more about alternative formats and making your content accessible you can visit our elearn page. More information about faculty/school-specific workshops will be circulated via Deputy Heads of School Education and in our future newsletters etc.