Grant awarded for innovative project to explore accessibility and inclusivity

Keele University has been awarded funding from the SEDA Research and Evaluation Small Grants 2019 for an exciting collaborative project, which aims to improve understanding of accessibility and inclusivity in university settings.

The project is titled ‘The Lecture from Hell: an answer to addressing our inaccessibility demons in Higher Education delivery.’ Led by Dr Abigail Pearson from the School of Law and Dr Chris Little and Dan Harding from the Keele Institute for Innovation and Teaching Excellence (KIITE), it aims to develop experiential learning resources to greater aid staff understanding of accessibility and inclusivity concerns. Recent reforms to Disabled Students Allowance have resulted in a shift away from grant funded, retrofitted support for individual students. As the law can be difficult to interpret, staff need and want training in how to best assist students in practice.

Dr Abigail Pearson comments:

"This project will highlight the importance of making our teaching practices accessible and give insight into the impact of failure to do so, and support staff in making changes through collaboration. These approaches could be adapted and used to meet a variety of student needs in the future, which will prepare us to respond to new challenges and opportunities as they emerge."

To achieve this, the project will look to design a series of techniques, utilising technology to recreate some of the most commonly reported abstract and concrete barriers as identified by students and shown in research. The resulting training package will offer staff the opportunity to attend an immersive lecture on disability equality, where they will experience first-hand the impact of these barriers on student learning.

Dr Chris Little added:

“This project will develop experiential and reusable learning objects for our staff that can also be shared with others across the sector. This will give a real and usable insight into the accessibility issues faced by many students at university. It’s also an opportunity for us to collaborate with an expert in inclusive education who honed her skills here at Keele University, helping us to shape how we assist our wonderful teaching staff."

It is hoped that the project results will be integrated into the Keele University staff development offer and that the outcome will be a model of development that other institutions across the sector will adopt.