Meeting the needs of disabled students in online distance education – an institutional case study from The Open University, UK

Cooper, Martyn (2014). Meeting the needs of disabled students in online distance education – an institutional case study from The Open University, UK. Distance Education in China, 2014(12) pp. 18–27.

URL: http://www.qikan.com.cn/Article/zgyj/zgyj201412/zg...

Abstract

This paper reviews the evolution of the access provision and support for disabled students studying at The Open University (OU) in the UK. It is intended as a case study from which other institutions offering distance learning can draw. The paper introduces the OU context and recounts the history of the development of provision for disabled students since 2000; that is, over the period that distance education has moved increasingly online. The educational, social justice and legal drivers for this are considered. A detailed description is given to a cross-university programme called “Securing Greater Accessibility (SeGA)” instigated in 2010 that has sought to co-ordinate the various activities and clarify responsibilities for accessibility across the institution. SeGA has sought to embed accessibility in business-as-usual practice and not consider provision for disabled students as a bolt-on extra. A summary is made of some of the guidance developed by SeGA on making online teaching and learning accessible to all, including students with disabilities. A brief note on current research activities at The Open University relating to accessibility is given.

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