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Date posted: 19th November 2021
All further education (FE) colleges are legally obliged to develop accessible websites, learning, teaching and assessment materials but new research reveals a lack of awareness, engagement and compliance across the sector.
The research conducted by All Able Ltd on behalf of Thomas Pocklington Trust, looked at blind and partially sighted students access to information and assistive technology (AT) in mainstream FE.
It found eight out of ten colleges in the UK do not provide the legally required accessibility information on their websites.
The research tested the pathways blind and partially sighted students may use to find out about support a college may provide. The responses indicated a worrying mixture in the quality and usefulness of information provided to prospective blind and partially sighted students and almost half (45%) of colleges contacted did not even respond.
Tara Chattaway, Head of Education at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said: “Every blind and partially sighted student should have access to a quality college education but our research shows there is a lack of inclusive practice creating a barrier to accessibility. This was seen in inaccessible software, systems and processes, and a prevailing culture in colleges where student support departments are viewed as the only teams that have a responsibility to consider the needs of people with disabilities.”
The report recommends urgent actions that Government, college leadership and college staff must take to improve support for blind and partially sighted students. These include:
Practical recommendations for colleges to embed an accessible-by-design approach include:
To view the executive summary, full report and our ‘Making college accessible guide’ go to: https://www.pocklington.org.uk/student-support/professionals/technology-and-accessibility-in-fe-research/
About the research
The research investigated accessible information practices, compliance with accessibility regulations and how blind and partially sighted students access information and assistive technology (AT) in mainstream FE.
All Able’s research incorporates data from a documentary analysis of FE college websites, a survey of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)/Assisted Learning Support (ALS) teams across the sector, and interviews with students and staff in FE colleges across the UK.
For further information or images please contact: Penny Wilkinson, Thomas Pocklington Trust, email@example.com 07974 578 637.