What aspects of the use of Blackboard affect the experience of disabled students in terms of the achievement of their pedagogical objectives? Blackboard, through its strong commitment to compliance with international legislature, ensures it attains the necessary standards of technical accessibility.
ALERT (Accessibility in Learning Environments and Related Technologies) is a HEFCE funded project under the Strand 2 initiative for ‘Improving provision for disabled students’. The project is being run between the Universities of Durham and Bournemouth and is conducted in conjunction with the NDT (National Disability Team). ALERT aims to increase awareness of the issues relating to the accessibility of online learning in specific subject areas and identify methods of supporting disabled students to enable them to achieve their pedagogical objectives through a VLE.
Guidelines on issues relating to supporting the online needs of students with a variety of disabilities have been developed from a series of case studies undertaken during the first year of the project’s two year timescale. The case studies give perspectives of students and staff in a range of academic departments on a number of ‘etivities’ within Blackboard. Consistent themes which have been identified include the provision of online lecture support materials, synchronous and asynchronous discussion, assessment, strategic management and quality assurance.
The guidelines will provide recommendations and points for reflection for practitioners supporting disabled students, such as members of academic staff, learning technologists and disability support staff.
Further information on the project is available at the ALERT website (www.dur.ac.uk/alert). After completion the guidelines will also be available here.