Thursday, 30 October 2008

A & I

No, not artificial intelligence (well it is - kind of), but Accessibility & Inclusion. This is an accessibility update and announcement of a competition to win an Asus Eee PC.

This week I sat through one of the regular online presentations run by Dr Simon Ball of the JISC TECHDIS service. Simon uses the Webcasting tool Instant Presenter to run a focussed 30 minute live webcast. The next scheduled sessions are December 12th at 2 pm and December 17th at 1 pm, and will last for just 30 minutes as usual. The URL to log into (put it in your calendar next to the appointment….) is always for the HE Online Updates – just go to that URL 5 minutes before the start time and make sure you have sound switched on (and headphones if you share an office!).

Simon focuses on HE specific themes , including an update on the HEAT scheme. For those who don't know the HEAT scheme funds small scale projects that promote accessibility and inclusion using technology. It's currently in round three and there are some really fab ideas. Two that stick out in mind are the use of 2D or QR bar codes that can be "scanned with a mobile phone to receive information that can be read out, or read from the phone, or even link to a web site. And the second idea I liked was use of USB drives to send out resources on staff development courses. I briefly mentioned 2D barcodes in a previous blog posting that discussed Professor Mike Wesch.

Accessibility news Simon updated us on;

  • The innovative Lexdis website, any technology that achieves this has been called an Assistive Technology.
  • JISC TechDis has created a number of resources (on the excellence gateway) designed to enable staff to create effective, engaging and accessible learning materials for their learners.
  • A new part of their website which explores the accessibility issues around mobile devices, focusing on Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones. Some really fab ideas in here.
  • An update on the NE Scottish RSC initiative Open Source (free) Accessibility Apps. We will be giving these away soon, but you can just download them for yourselves.

Now for the competition.

In an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring accessibility in education, I am giving away a Linux flavoured Asus eepc. These Ultra Mobile PC's are becoming really popular in education and are reaching the cost (approx £200.00) that they can be given away to students! The competition is open to any of our supported organisations in the West Midlands delivering higher education. I am looking for innovative use of one of these PC's in the form of a short press release. This could be building upon existing practice or a wholly new use in a University or College. It's open to staff or students. The press release will be used by us to publicise the winning idea, either on our website or in printed media. We will conduct a follow up interview at the end of this academic year to determine how useful the eeePC turned out.

The only rules are:

  • Open to RSC West Mids supported organisations,
  • must be HE delivery,
  • must supply a press release to me ( ) by end of November 2008,
  • Winner announced in next HE ebulletin – early December 2008.
  • The winner must attend a RSC workshop in Wolverhampton on December 14th 2008 to learn about the free accessibility apps I mentioned above.


graham cowan said...

Hi Kev,

Shame the competition is only open to HE. As a WBL Provider working in FE it would have been nice to have a bash at it

Anonymous said...

We have around 25-30 tutors teaching learners with learning difficulties who have access to a moodle area on our VLE so I will put in a selection of these links for them- thanks
Around 8 of them are also embarking on an OCR Level 5 LD optional unit for DTLLS so although they know about Techdis,the extra ideas and links will be very useful