Supporting digital learning in further and higher education

Further education colleges and universities in the UK are increasingly expected to look out for the welfare of their students beyond what was previously required of them.

For example, former health minister Sir Norman Lamb’s recently called for universities to be bound by law to meet the mental health needs of their students.

University can be hard enough for young people, many of whom will move away from home for the first time, and face new social, educational and financial pressures.

Supporting the mental health needs of students is a complex issue, however, getting the right support for students to be able to learn effectively should be part of the solution. This includes supporting people with disabilities, who represent around 20% of the UK’s population.

Digital accessibility is a legal requirement

Recent figures show that 94,120 new students with a disability enrolled at university in England in 2017/18, but without effective support, they can still face barriers that hinder them.

Student intranets are now at the heart of university and higher education college courses, offering students access to university and college systems as well as information like course documents and reading materials. It is essential for students to be able to access intranets and all their content, whether that’s to access timetables or to study reading materials like exerts of text saved as pdf files. This means it’s crucial for universities and colleges to guarantee that intranets and their content are accessible for people with disabilities.

Universities, colleges, and other public sector bodies are also required to comply with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. These laws set new website and mobile app accessibility standards that public sector bodies must now follow.

Supporting digital learning

The Recite Me assistive toolbar can help universities and colleges to make their intranets more accessible by offering a unique range of features the user can tailor to suit their needs.

Organisations like Brunel University London, which is recognised as a leader in improving the student experience for people with disabilities with its award-winning disability and dyslexia service, already offer Recite Me.

The Recite Me cloud-based assistive technology toolbar allows web visitors to customise your digital content so that they can consume it in ways that work for them.

It can work on any website and has features like a screen reader that helps website visitors to perceive and understand your digital content by reading website text aloud. It also allows people to change the way a website or intranet site looks. Users are able to customise the site’s colour scheme as well as the text font style, size, colour, and spacing. This means students with disabilities can easily access things like exerts from text shared as pdf’s.

Supporting digital learning for people with disabilities is just as important as supporting students’ mental health needs, now is the time for all universities and colleges to make both a top priority. You can learn more about the importance of assistive technology tools in education here.

100’s of organisations including universities and colleges already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities. To find out more contact the team or book a demo. You can also try our website accessibility test here.

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