motivation research demonstrates that if you feel a sense of belonging in which wherever you are you are more likely to be motivated in whatever it is that you’re being tasked with to do and so as an institution the more that you can reflect every type of student every type of diversity so that nobody feels like they’re not reflected in that you immediately create a space where everybody can see themselves where everybody can hear themselves and everybody can be themselves and the more that we do that the more likely our students are not only to stay at University and to do and to make good progress through university but the more likely they are to actually attain really well and then be really confident about going and applying for jobs that are challenging and ambitious jobs and we are seeing that shift in our student body more and more students disclose right across institutions not just here at Derby that they have got some kind of disability or a learning need which actually is good because it means that we can then learn to support that and you’re right we have to be the ones that shift not expecting students to integrate him that’s a very deficit approach and at the University of Derby we don’t take a deficit approach we take a really proactive approach to us changing our systems and our processes to make sure that we are the ones that are enabling students and to be able to pick up their learning in the way that they need it. I think it has made things more complex hasn’t it and we talk a quite a lot with staff about technology as an enabler and so you’ve got more opportunities you can use technologies in different ways to do things but it can also then become a barrier as well and I think sometimes people can put something in place that they think might be an enabler but actually is a barrier so we try and get people to think about technology in that way so I think there’s huge opportunities for students in this but I think the potential for for more hurdles to overcome is also those technologies it was quite quite a complex relationship. We recently did a research project and asked some of our students with disabilities why they particularly chose online because online these renowned really for having their higher proportion of students with disability studying online than what campus-based students do. We’ve seen a spike in the number of students are requesting alternate media and last year we have a large volume of files where we’re working on even though it’s 120 students those students have multiple classes and a lot of other classes have an online component to them where the professors are uploading multiple files and we’re doing our best to convert them all yeah we were working hard and this is why you know a tool like Ally can help us out a lot because in some cases like when students come in in the middle of the semester because we have such a high load of files we’re converting we’re working on those students files who’ve made the request before the semester which is our recommendation for all students for our students for whom alternate media is just new and the big in the middle of the semester they just learned about it from their specialist we want them to

know about tools like Ally because Ally has the potential to give them a file that’s much more usable than what they what their professor originally upload so. And I think that flexibility is key that principle of trying to extend them the classroom that we’re removing all those boundaries that principle that all students at some point in the journey are going to benefit from having that flex whether it’s caring responsibilities whether it’s work commitments whether it’s geographical distance that they’re commuting in we can have that principle flowing through the whole curriculum design that is going to benefit everybody. Yeah I think the thing I’ve really enjoyed about it and I think the thing that is going change is that will move away from, will move towards thinking about you know the fact that I have produced this document isn’t the important thing the important thing is hand how the user interacts with it what they can meaningfully get out of it and will shift the conversation around to students interacting with our learning resources rather than content generation and this provides a mechanism for, Ally provides a mechanism a series of metrics, a series of tools a way of looking at things to enable academics to step away from how they interact with resources to actually begin to think about how other people do it and I think if we can reframe conversations about these are things which people have to use and learn from rather than I have produced a lovely set of course notes will be well on the way to making this a much richer and rewarding educational experience for all. The big barrier is is knowing where to go to change the problem and faculty didn’t even know that there was a problem that they needed to change so getting the information to them about where the you know where the barriers are and then helping them find the path the easy path that’s going to be the challenge is the easy path because even though accessibility is a very easy thing sometimes that pathway can be blocked By seeing those indicators and I think all the information is there for them to act on but it’s making sure that they have the time to do that our communication has been for them not necessarily focus and what they have done in the past but to focus on that new content as they’re going forward so think about the present in the future and not worry about what they’ve done beforehand we’re also supporting our messages of engaging with Ally along with a lot of wider accessibility initiatives. And I think there’s a challenge for staff in really knowing their students so who’s in my classroom how do I know what they need and what about the people that I don’t know what they need because not everybody discloses when they need support or additional help. It’s almost now they’re expected that that’s where the materials would go a lot of the materials put up there are of varying quality and varying levels of accessibility for a lot of users so anything that can help with that is going to be really useful as well as the reach that has to to inform and educate about the accessibility of documents that are up there. So we need to make our our university as a whole more more inclusive and having having Ally has made my work well it’s informed my work for example when I was talking about self-determination and self-advocacy they had a choice of doing a reading or watching a video but what Ally gave me is a choice of they can take that reading and turn it into audio many of the students use text-to-speech software right so, so Ally just does that for me I mean it’s really really again really exciting and really timely. Use the data so to further promote it and I think what’s interesting about the data is you can very clearly look at the the impact that it that it’s having on the students who have chosen to engage with alternate formats but you can also see what academics are doing you can see okay let’s do that the academics are choosing to improve these PDFs they’re choosing to improve these Word documents so the fact that you can you can measure the academic activity within the tool is really really good. It was really exciting to go through our data review and and see that faculty were engaging with content and changing content that was really really quite rewarding for me I mean it was it was nice to see that we had a lot of content but that the content wasn’t also all bad there was some content that was in there that actually had some promise but it also gave us some really good guidance. It got back to me that Michele Perkins will go through every single course on blackboard and make sure that the content is accessible because I said

even if I said it was accessible here two seconds later they upload something it might not be accessible so we really didn’t have a solution at that time we were just trying to get started because we couldn’t keep just using the Microsoft Office checkers there wasn’t enough analytics behind that in order to see what was really happening at the school insert Ally which made that journey a little bit easier. Another aspect of this will be for us to work more closely with our library and the disability office and identify perhaps the courses that have a particular need for the alternative formats and focused their first use the institutional report to identify those courses and also get out to the staff and help them understand how they can use the tool to do some fixes perhaps ramp up our training sessions as well have more training we have also an online tutorial that we’re putting together on Ally, so people could do that there long time apart from the face-to-face ones. It’s galvanized us to work across other units other departments, you know we’re working with Lucy’s team the web access team with a disability students program with the library with alternative media and with equity and inclusion now and it’s the first time in my recollection that this has happened so the momentum that Ally is providing on campus is I think leading toward a culture change around accessibility issues which is something that’s really needed and that’s gonna help deepen our understanding of what accessibility is on campus It was the easiest sell I think that I’ve ever made to leadership which is the weirdest thing because you can’t fight a lie you can’t fight what it does and at the time I was an office of one and so Ally is like a team of 15 amazing instructional designers that you know can get in there at any time in any place in the faculty’s face in their space and gives them what they need to know about digital accessibility and how to remediate their documents I mean how can you fight that? It’s been really interesting on campus to see the culture change because there really has been a very deep culture change that I don’t know if anything and it kind of our recent history at MUSC has changed the culture this much besides digital accessibility because it impacts everyone. In working with my disability I felt pretty dependent on other people like my teachers because I had to kind of asked him a lot of questions something they had to ask them to repeat things back to me or to reclarify information and that made me feel like I wasn’t an independent learner and looking back now I love tools like Ally and Kurzweil because they make us feel like we’re independent learners and they make us feel like we’re finding that we have the opportunity to actually you know engage with text in meaningful ways or what’s more effective for the ways we learn and I think that’s important because if we want to empower learners we need to give the opportunities to engage with different types of modalities to give them the opportunity to see what works best for them from their opinion and then what’s gonna help support that learning so they could be successful and effective not only in school but also the future work that they do. So maybe you know, you might be tired of listening to a screen reader and maybe if you wanted a granularly feel something like tactile or what have you it can help you and give you an indication of what you need to read or Like Claire says just be able to be independent and be quiet about it I think probably works very well for them That’s one of the key bits of feedback we received actually, just the immediacy of those alternative formats and straightaway right from day one and the students feel really supported in the knowledge that that’s there and that’s available. Just providing choices to people which we haven’t had in the past and I think that’s a real benefit and as an academic member of stuff I don’t actually have to worry about that too much because as long as my students know about the alternative formats then they can choose to make it into into a sound file they can choose to make it into an HTML document or whatever it is that you need and I think that’s really from an Academic’s point-of-view that’s just wonderful because it means it’s giving students the autonomy to use the materials in the way that suits them best to the time at which they are using them. But also looking to see if we are as an institution we can make changes that then don’t even require those conversations because they’re already in place and and I guess that’s where something like Ally actually allows the students choices as to what types of

formats they’re receiving information I think that what it allows is broader access but it also allows students a flexibility and choice to choose it in the way that they most want it. So I’ll give you an example, some of our students have very practical-based courses and we didn’t we asked white how much they’re using their smartphones to refer to instructions for the workshops and the HTML formats just mean that they can see the tables properly so they can see what they’re supposed to be up to without kind of struggling so it’s navigate on their screen. But also, the non-disabled students they thought the audio was so great, the audio was popular because they were pressed especially around the exam so instead of reading the papers that were downloading the audio and listening to that. Another unexpected benefits of students were studying languages in which something we didn’t really think about when they had the audio format generated for them because documents were properly tagged it would read it out in the language they were studying so they could actually hear a bit of new vocab how they want to pronounce it so it was that kind of outcome that we were actually looking for anything was really useful for us to put in. I really like them a lot because it makes it it makes it easier it makes it not only does it make it more accessible in terms of vision it makes it more accessible as like if I save it to Chrome I can open up my phone on my laptop on one of the computers in the library on my tablet and it makes it it makes my experience so, instead it was just having one computer one time one time to do something I could do something whenever and be able to read it because you can put a Word email it to yourself or whatever and open on every document on every type of computer or anything your phone whatever but you can’t always zoom in or read as easily as you can with something like an HTML or Epub. So new material I look to see how I can make it accessible right from the beginning and older material I think will be a little more long-term to actually make it fully accessible and I made an effort a this academic session to to go into a number of previous PowerPoint presentations and trying to improve those I decided it was sensible to aim for improvement rather than necessarily perfection although I did get one A4 sheet of paper a hundred percent of very proud of myself but but actually it’s about trying to continuously improve. It’s helped us to address breeding in that culture of creating documents which are accessible from the start and working towards that and I think you know like Calvin was saying it’s when you get a subject it you can go in your course and you can see lots and lots of red some people may panic and some people see that as a challenge and I think that’s a really nice sort of diversity of opinion now I seen people go you know we’ve had academics who get in touch with us and go, “I’m trying to get this 100% I can’t work out why”, you end up with this dialog which is spreading out across the university now as well so the more workshops we’ve done in the more conversations we have with academics and professional staff where they tell someone else and they go, “Have you seen those indicators it in your course, have you seen this problem?”. We’re creating a culture where people talk about accessibility and inclusivity and Reading’s very great for talking about inclusivity but I think you know it helps that there’s a directive come through rather than a legal position but you know this ethical point is something that people are really hitting home on as well that’s fantastic and that dialogue of diversity and dialogue of accessibility is opening up in Reading. I think Ally has been a real good vehicle for that. We were a little worried about the amount of service calls that we would get but we’ve only received two service calls and both of them had to do with helping their course materials more accessible we’ve also had some instructors come in to office hours they just want to know how to make their course more accessible because they don’t want the red indicators so it’s been really positive overall. It’s exciting because it shows that the fruits of our Labor’s are actually working it shows that if you take a positive and proactive approach with a piece of technology and you promote it in the right ways people will warm to it and they’ll use it and they’ll engage with it so it’s positive seen that not only students are benefiting from the technology but it’s also the fact that the academics are engaging with it rather than just seeing it as this sort of well, “It does it works it’s magic on the documents and it creates these alternate formats but I don’t really need to do anything”. The fact that academics are acting upon their documents within the VLE and making positive changes and improving the accessibility schools it’s great really good to see

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