Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Educational Enhancement Unit is committed to supporting accessibility and inclusive learning environments.

The team is currently supporting a number of initiatives that follow the universal design principles laid out by the Australian Disability Clearing House (ADCET) (2019). ADCET have seven generic principles of universal design that can be adapted to reflect the educational setting:

  1. Equitable educational experience
  2. Flexible material and instruction
  3. Predictable structure and instruction
  4. Perceptible information
  5. Mistakes are tolerated
  6. Physical accessibility

Learning Management System – Blackboard Learn

In 2018 UWA introduced Blackboard Ally as part of its Learning Management System (LMS). Ally supports the staff and students by making content in the LMS more accessible. When content is added to the LMS, staff are provided with a visual indicator of how accessible the content is and provided with specific and practical advice about how they can improve accessibility. Ally also automatically converts files into a variety of alternative file formats that may be more useful for students with specific accessibility requirements. Since April 9 2018, UWA students have downloaded 34,838 alternative file formats – the most of any Australian university. Blackboard Ally is currently available across all units in the LMS.

Our team of educational technologists has also taken additional steps to address accessibility in the LMS through the design of a new template for units. One of the ADCET universal design principles is predictable structure and instruction, so a template that is used consistently across all units is a very easy and effective way staff can improve the accessibility of their unit and enhance the student experience. If you’d like to use this template in your unit, please contact your faculty educational technologist.

Lecture Capture System – Echo360

The new LCS was launched at the start of 2019 and it includes a new interface and a range of new features that support accessibility and student inclusion. The new interface is designed with accessibility in mind and includes features like persistent navigation, configurable playback options, and improved contrast. It also includes in-class interactive polling and Q&A, which has been shown to improve participation/engagement during class as students who may not feel comfortable contributing verbally can have the opportunity to ask and respond to questions via the online interface.

The team in EEU is also working with UniAccess to conduct a pilot to evaluate the Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) feature within the Lecture Capture System (LCS). ASR has the potential to enhance the accessibility of video content in the LCS by creating searchable, time-referenced transcripts. The technology behind ASR has the potential to be a cost-effective way to complement existing accessibility support and deliver a range of benefits to a broad cross-section of the student community. The pilot includes 50 units and more than 6,000 students from across UWA, and the results will be used to inform the future use of this technology at UWA.

Staff wishing to discuss accessibility requirements can contact educational technologists in each of the faculties:


Education Quarterly