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Constructing Accessible CAA: minor works or major renovations?. Kathy Wiles LTSN Generic Centre Dr. Simon Ball JISC TechDis. Introduction. Accessibility : “Something that can be easily and conveniently approached, entered, understood and used by disabled people.”

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Constructing Accessible CAA: minor works or major renovations?

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Constructing Accessible CAA: minor works or major renovations?

Kathy Wiles

LTSN Generic Centre

Dr. Simon Ball

JISC TechDis


  • Accessibility: “Something that can be easily and conveniently approached, entered, understood and used by disabled people.”

  • Design-for-All: “Something that can be easily and conveniently approached, entered, understood and used by everyone.”

Why? The Legislation!

  • Aside from ethical and good practice reasons for designing assessment-for-all, there is now a legal imperative:

    • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

    • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act 2001 (SENDA)

    • European Legislation (eEurope Action Plan, adoption of WAI guidelines)

WAI Guidelines

  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative:

  • Gathering of world experts in Web and Accessibility

  • Produce best practice guidelines on various subjects, including: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

  • See also

Definition of Disability

  • “A person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

  • Therefore we have to cater for learners who are blind, vision impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, who have a mobility or dexterity impairment, dyslexia or another learning difficulty, or a medical or mental health condition.

What It Says……………

  • Not treat a disabled person ‘less favourably’ for a reason relating to their disability

  • Required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if a disabled person would otherwise be placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’

  • Adjustments should be ‘anticipatory’

  • Which means we have to think about it now, and put in place what we can as soon as we can. Not everything can be done at once, but if we are not making an effort we will be very vulnerable to challenges.


  • Stating the obvious?

  • A learner with dyslexia or whose first language is BSL may not be able to interpret easily unnecessarily flowery or verbose ‘academic’ language.

  • Just another unnecessary barrier: see the effect yourselves…….

Your first question

Bring any 20 of the 53 recognized parts of the middle thorax to the numbered stickers

Your second question

  • What is the name of the process of protecting, preserving and managing natural resources?

    a) agriculture

    b) forestry

    c) conversation

    d) conservation

Your next question:

  • Anybody with birthday between January and June inclusive raise your hand.

Your next question: Who were the original co-signatories of the Treaty of Rome?

A. Belgium, The Federal Republic Of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands

B. Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, The Federal Republic Of Germany, France

C. France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Belgium, The Federal Republic Of Germany

D. United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, France, The Federal Republic Of Germany, Italy

Finally: your third example – which would you choose?

A – What is the name of the process of the mixing of a lake’s waters due to increased wind speeds and lower temperatures in the autumn following the phenomenon of summer warming of surface waters by the sun and the corresponding stagnation of deeper waters due to decreased convection known as stratification?

B – In summer, lakes can become stratified, due to the warming of the surface waters by the sun. The corresponding decrease in convection leads to stagnation of the deeper waters. In autumn, when temperatures decrease and wind speeds increase, convection resumes, fully mixing the lake waters once again. What is the name given to this mixing process?

What do these examples teach us?

  • Clarity of language

  • Brevity if possible

  • Think about the range of students experiencing the assessment and consider the options for best achieving the intended outcomes

What pedagogical issues are there to consider?

  • Design for all

  • Equivalence

  • Assuring a valid assessment experience

Design for All

  • Selection of mode and design with accessibility in mind

  • Enriches experience for all users

  • Is not ‘the lowest common denominator’

  • Is not bland and anti-technology

  • Basic principles are easy to apply

Design for all principles

  • Use of fonts- sans serif

  • Online content that can be navigated by mouse and keyboard

  • Content capable of being read by screenreader

  • Use of captions and descriptions for images and videos


  • Not a case of when all else fails

  • Encourages lateral thinking about mode of assessment

  • Not ‘only’ for students with disabilities

  • Can be costly and time consuming- played off against costs of design for all

  • Student input into mode of assessment?

Valid assessment experience?

  • Accessible vs. validity?

  • Mode and method must allow student to achieve intended outcomes

  • Outcomes must be the same for all students

  • IMS guidelines

IMS guidelines

  • What is validity?

    According to Willingham and Cole (1997):

    • ...Validity includes, for example, the accuracy with which a test measures what it purports to measure, how well it serves its intended function, other consequences of test use, and comparability of the assessment process for different examinees. (p. 228).

  • Does accessibility threaten validity?

    • "In testing individuals with disabilities, test developers, test administrators, and test users should take steps to ensure that the test score inferences accurately reflect the intended construct rather than any disabilities and their associated characteristics extraneous to the intent of the measurement" (Standards, 1999, p. 106).

Things to consider

  • How great is your role in setting the content of assessments?

  • Are you able to advise on validity and equivalence issues?

  • Who can help you with the pedagogical aspects of assessment?

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