Lab Contact: Jacqueline Cawston
Team: Debra James, Katherine Wimpenny, Gemma Tombs
SWING; funded by the EU Tempus programme is a collaboration between the UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, Morocco and Egypt and is led by Jacqueline Cawston of the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University. The project aims to create sustainable policies in the partner Universities to enable students with disabilities to have equal access to learning environments and programmes. Currently in the North African region services to aid people with disabilities in education are generally not systematic and poorly funded, there is a need for support, training and guidance that could make such interventions more effective.
EU partners will support their colleagues in Egypt and Morocco to research the needs of disabled students and to experience the best practice of Universities in Europe so that they can collaborate in the development, selection, procurement and use of accessible IT. The team will help develop an Accessibility Model, support training and help embed Accessibility Centres in Partner Countries.
- To offer disabled students equal access to university facilities by using assistive technology and accessible IT.
- To utilize the EU e-accessibility best practices in order to achieve greater levels of Web accessibility across the Partner Countries’ Universities.
- To design and establish a model for Accessibility Centres in Partner Countries.
- To train academic, careers, support staff and technical experts from the Partner Country Universities in Student Accessibility.
- To promote the adaptation of specialized “design-for-all” policies (universal design approaches) by the Universities through the development of sustainable Accessibility Centres.
- To develop and disseminate recommendations for other Universities based on EUROPA Web Accessibility Policy and WAI standards.
In this framework, a wide range of assistive technology (AT) makes it possible for an individual with special needs to operate a computer and telecommunication equipment. Alternative keyboards, text-to-speech software, screen magnification, word-prediction software, grammar and spelling checkers, and other AT have significant role in giving people with disabilities access to IT that will enhance their academic and career opportunities.
The assistive technology introduced needed to be customizable, adaptable and where possible open tools that might be disability-specific or not. Co-creation between students, academic staff and the project team was key in creative problem solving, sharing ideas and discussing development plans.
SWING has not only been about ways in which students’ learning could be supported through the use of additional forms of technology, but also the wider implications of professional development and employability has been promoted through the SWING training modules and project intentions.
A global blueprint for enhancing opportunities for people with
disabilities to access and succeed in higher education
Source: Coventry University Open Collections
Phase 1: Needs assessment, best practices of assistive technology, gap analysis and planning.
Phase 2: Accessibility centre model development, design of an e-learning environment, employment modules for vulnerable groups, development of advisors’ training handbook
Phase 3: Organisation of seminar programme, development of training material, transferring and translating teaching material, selecting suitable partner country academic staff, training of partner countries’ academic staff
Phase 4: Integration of an “assistive it” system, training of career advisors and university staff, seminars for accessibility centre staff, report on user trials & evaluation findings
Phase 5: Dissemination portfolio and actions, exploitation, sustainability and project quality plan