“A VLE is an individual organisations biggest investment in assistive technology, if you have an easy to use VLE, one that is used effectively it will meet a huge range of needs of a wide range of learners.”
Alistair McNaught, JISC.
- Learning anytime and any place
- Ability to use your own device to access it – you may have specialist software that helps you
- You can revisit learning as many times as you need
- Missing a lesson doesn’t mean missing junks of learning if the VLE enables you to still access it
Take a look at a course on your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and ask yourself the following question:
What type of content is most used in the course?
- Text (Documents – Word, PowerPoint, pdf)
Does it matter what format the content is, as long as it covers the required learning objectives?
Perhaps this is a question to ask your learners – What are their preferred media types? JISC asked learners with different access needs (blind/visual impairment, deaf, dyslexic and learning difficulty) and their combined least favourite was text. Often the widest used!
Isn’t it more about how the material is created and delivered rather than its format? If accessibility is considered when resources are created, then many of the barriers disappear and better still all learners can actually benefit.
- Word – if you use style headings when you create a document learners can navigate them more easily whether or not they are using a screen reader. In View, selecting the Navigation bar opens up a menu to quickly access the required section within the document.
- PowerPoint – Use the notes to write down the key things that you want learners to understand from each slide. If they need to recap or miss a lesson, the contents of the presentation are explained. Alternatively provide audio for each slide.
- Documents – If using Office, then make use of its inbuilt Accessibility Checker tool. Within your VLE provide a clear explanation to learners why they should access the document – what they will learn and/or what you are expecting them to do as a result.
- Images – consider carefully the alternative text you provide for any images you upload. What does a learner who can’t see the image need to learn from it? For example, it might be an image of a man but simply writing alternative text “a man”, won’t tell the learner the man is unhappy, asleep, a famous actor.
- Audio/Video – provide key points covered in the audio/video – you could even give a time to jump to if videos contain different sections.
Using Heading Styles – WebAIM website
Alternative text on images – WebAIM website
The Virtual Learning Environment – Evaluation Tool for Content (VLE-ETC) created by JISC
Written for HOLEX by Ideas4Learning Limited