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Computing Conference Offers Tangible Help to Disabled Students

Source: Gill Whitney, Middlesex University and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, 21 January 2016

Digital accessibility is higher and further education

Disabled students are often unable to utilise their IT skills either because they're not able to use 'conventional' classroom facilities or because the online learning tools haven't been designed or implemented correctly.

A major conference in London organised by the British Computer Society (BCS) in April aims to highlight some of the challenges and engage students, IT professionals and academics in providing recommendations and solutions. Associate Professor at Middlesex University, Gill Whitney, explained: 'Too often the individual support for disabled students at college or university is likely to be a jigsaw of fragmented pieces'.

'As an academic, I know that most years I have four or five students with visible and hidden disabilities, I remember working with a mature student in his first year work with Disability Support Services to bring the right pieces together. He was able to complete his first year successfully'.

Digital accessibility aim  s to match the needs of people with various disabilities in accessing online teaching resources. The objective of the conference is to enable current computing and IT students to reach their full potential by making sure materials are properly designed for students with disabilities.

Sometimes, a minor change in a piece of software can make the difference between disabled students being unable to use it at all to them utilising the computer program to complete a piece of coursework unaided.

*Conference delegates will pool thoughts on how to support students with disabilities to achieve their full potential. The focus here is on computing and information science and technology within higher and further education, although the problems encountered by students with disabilities are endemic across education.

Delegates will share experience and produce recommendations for improvements/actions in two key areas: 

  • Best practice in providing accessible course materials
  • Training the next generation of IT professionals in best practice for making IT systems truly accessible

The date of the conference is Thursday 7 April 2016, from 10.00am - 4.30pm, at BCS, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA

Registration and further information