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Because access matters: an institutional case study

Because access matters: an institutional case study PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to overview an institution wide accessibility project undertaken at the Vietnam locations of a transnational Australian university, and the significance of this initiative in symbolising the organisation’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. The project implemented universal accessibility standards for learning materials across all courses delivered at the university. This facilitated an easier in-class and online learning experience for students with a broad range of print disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and a range of other learning differences or disabilities.Design/methodology/approachThe implementation of this project entailed three concurrent streams of activity which the authors describe in this paper. These included development of accessibility standards and processes for conversion of the existing learning materials, a sustained awareness raising campaign for staff and students, and integration of the accessibility standards into induction, support and development activities.FindingsThe process of establishing the technical foundations for inclusion through a focus on accessibility prompted rich dialogue with staff and students around inclusive practices. Many staff working in professional and non-teaching roles voluntarily adopted the standards to promote an inclusive workplace. Capability building activities for high school teachers were also conducted for the Vietnamese Department of Education & Training.Originality/valueThe approach outlined in this case is highly transferable, and provides a practical roadmap for achieving accessibility and promoting an inclusive environment. The strategies described through the lens of Kotter’s (1996) process for leading change in this paper can be applied by higher education institutions internationally. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2050-7003
DOI
10.1108/JARHE-04-2017-0045
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to overview an institution wide accessibility project undertaken at the Vietnam locations of a transnational Australian university, and the significance of this initiative in symbolising the organisation’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. The project implemented universal accessibility standards for learning materials across all courses delivered at the university. This facilitated an easier in-class and online learning experience for students with a broad range of print disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and a range of other learning differences or disabilities.Design/methodology/approachThe implementation of this project entailed three concurrent streams of activity which the authors describe in this paper. These included development of accessibility standards and processes for conversion of the existing learning materials, a sustained awareness raising campaign for staff and students, and integration of the accessibility standards into induction, support and development activities.FindingsThe process of establishing the technical foundations for inclusion through a focus on accessibility prompted rich dialogue with staff and students around inclusive practices. Many staff working in professional and non-teaching roles voluntarily adopted the standards to promote an inclusive workplace. Capability building activities for high school teachers were also conducted for the Vietnamese Department of Education & Training.Originality/valueThe approach outlined in this case is highly transferable, and provides a practical roadmap for achieving accessibility and promoting an inclusive environment. The strategies described through the lens of Kotter’s (1996) process for leading change in this paper can be applied by higher education institutions internationally.

Journal

Journal of Applied Research in Higher EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 9, 2018

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