Posted by: MandyS | December 12, 2011

Activity 29.1 – senior management’s perspective

I suppose in my own context there are two accessibility policies, that of the OU and that of the College of Law. I am not directly aware of who is responsible for writing the policy for the OU but, from my research into this, it would appear that it is the responsibility of the Equality and Diversity Team. The ethos is to take a whole institution approach to accessibility and this web page provides guidance on what is available for whom. In terms of monitoring, it is less clear, although it would appear that this is again the responsibility of the Equality and Diversity Team. There are also a number of contact points for raising any issues.

For the College of Law, there is an accessibility statement but it is not clear who is responsible for writing this or for monitoring compliance. There are various contact points; an IT one for issues with the website and a more general e-mail link for other queries.

A specific team detailed to promote accessibility is in line with Seale’s suggestion of a ‘committee’. As she says, it ‘does not matter that they form a committee’ just that they ‘work together as a team and adopt a collective responsibility for trying to promote change’ (p. 137). The procedures are in place but what effect is this having on change? I say this simply because I have been with the OU for 3 years now and accessibility issues have only just entered my radar and only then as a result of this course. I suppose the issue is the extent the Team have to go to ‘promote’ change. Yes, the information is there, but from what I have gleaned so far, I am not the only OU tutor who has had their eyes opened by H810. On that basis, perhaps accessibility is not quite so embedded as the OU perceives it to be.  Perhaps some responsibility for monitoring accessibility should lie with the course teams; after all, it is probably tutors who are least likely to be complying with the policies simply because of a lack of awareness that issues exist.

Although the OU policy itself may not require improvement, I would suggest that its method of dissemination does. Tutorhome has a wealth of resources both integrated and separate. What is lacking is a clear message that such policy has general application rather than applying only when one has student’s with additional requirements.

References:

Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn.open.ac.uk/ mod/ resourcepage/ view.php?id=569013&direct=1 (accessed 12 December 2011).

 

 

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