The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA, 2005) requires institutions to promote equality between disabled people and those who do not identify as having a disability. The Equality Act (2010) also requires that 'reasonable adjustments' are made to provide equal opportunity for learners.
In education, this provision is often termed accessibility and inclusivity. Within Educational Technology, inclusive practice may include providing online course content in a variety of formats and making this accessible on a variety of devices. Tools such as Gitbook facilitate publishing material in web, pdf and ebook formats and staff may also make use of lecture capture/screencasting/audio recording to convey a subject/topic
Production of learning materials may be subject to copyright law. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) prohibits someone making a copy of someone elses work unless they have been granted permission or for educational use it falls within "fair dealing". Fair dealing is considered as:
- One article in a single issue of a journal or set of conference proceedings, or a single law report;
- An extract from a book amounting to 5% of the whole or a complete chapter, whichever is greater;
- A whole poem or short story from a collection, provided the item is not more than 10 pages
- Up to 10% (maximum of 20 pages) per short book (without chapters), report, pamphlet or Standard Specification;
- One separate illustration or map up to A4 size;
- Short excerpts only from musical works (not whole works or movements). No copying is allowed for performance purposes.
In global law, The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA, 1998) sanctioned in the USA, covers the World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties regarding digital content. As such, all hosting and online companies must adhere to it. A Higher Educational Institution (HEI) may be served with a 'take-down' notice if for example, audio/video files they are hosting are found to infringe on copyright.
In my role, I work with staff and students to make them aware of copyright issues through sites like DACS and UALs own-it that operates as a forum for advice on copyright and IP. I am often invited to teach students and staff about digital identities, literacies and principles of social marketing.
There also exist alternatives to copyright, such as Creative Commons that facilitate creation of Open Educational Resources (OER). OER can increase access to learning material whilst at the same time promote institutional identity and activity. Traditional copyright works on the basis of restricting access to resources which is at odds with the nature of sharing information on the web. Creative Commons works from the point of sharing, allowing for a statement to be attached to a resource indicating what the author expects of those sharing the work. This typically ranges from attribution to remixing the work and allowing for commercial use.
- Blog post for World Autism Awareness Week on Inclusive learning and teaching practice.
- Blog post on re-designing learning content to make it accessible on the web.
- A support document that includes text, image and subtitled video to increase accessibility.
- CC licensed presentations on professional practice and digital literacies
The Inclusivity debate is current again within Higher Education due to cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). This means that at our institution, management are turning to professional services teams to ask what 'reasonable adjustments' can we make. Falmouth University does not currently have a learning and teaching strategy or policies around inclusive learning, Open Education or lecture capture, so there is a way to go. I have recently been invited to take part in an Inclusive Learning group that has been set up to discuss changes to Disabled Students allowance; initial meetings have been about mitigating risk, but I hope there will be some proactive work around supporting students in use of their own devices and learning design for inclusivity and accessibility.
With a background in Open Source technologies, I find it easy to situate my educational practice with Open Education and ensure that materials that I produce are where possible, licensed with Creative Commons. I find that through doing this, that feedback from the wider educational community is richer.