We aren't there yet, at Bath. What can I possibly have to add?
"The constraints of the interface focus thought ... We have a unique opportunity at this one moment as we move from paper to online."
(Chris Sangwin, yesterday)
I have spent the last 14 years trying to retrofit accessible interfaces to paper and old software based maths learning environments.
An expensive, inefficient compromise reliant on a rare skill set
The technology has changed recognisably: the seemingly impossible has become possible.
In this moment of unique opportunity can we build environments in which non-specialist practitioners create inclusive mathematical learning experiences by design?
"As severely VI people, we must rely on speech and Braille output, and are therefore confined to work in a one-dimensional space."
(Williams & Irving, 2012)
In the UK HE, disability disclosure rates have increased from:
Exceptional variation in neurocognitive processes
Dyslexia mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is characterised by difficulties with:
This can result in difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, sequencing and memory. Areas of relative strength might include, for example, verbal comprehension, visual reasoning, and holistic, rather than sequential, processing.
Overlearning, visual, interactive, structured: great!
Interactive, responsive, colourful, maths, graphics, video and audio rich resources which can benefit some disabled students can raise practical and technical barriers for others:
"For mathematics ... to stick in a piece of paper that you didn’t know the context of... knowing that InftyReader is powerful - this is the most powerful thing that I have."
(Blind student, 2009)
When I were a lass this was all print, PDF and images...
If you are only pretending to be online then Word (without MathType until conversion stops being a one way trip, test the trip but provide the original). Not PDF or PPT. Yet.
(You can get to either from a generous subset of LaTeX...)
Poor quality raster graphics relying on colour for meaning, without alt text, longdesc or annotations are a barrier!
Java and flash applets are dead (Hurrah!)
"The OU has made extensive investment in eLearning particularly since the late 1990s and this investment continues in an ongoing multi-million pound Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) programme ... the University is committed to making its on-line educational content accessible to disabled students and usable by all; this includes mathematical content."
(Cooper, Lowe & Taylor, 2008)
Publisher-like in size of operation but far ahead of the publishers in early progress - how far have they got and what can we learn?
The importance of working with a collaborative team including end users was highlighted.
"we were so off track [... it] was not the solution for everyone and so without Maurice [end user] our results would have been completely different, and honestly? They would have been wrong"
Scott Leavitt, Mathematics Tutor (Portland Community College 2013)
Talk to each other, talk to/email me, suggest something for the sprint tomorrow, ask questions then ask who else is asking the same questions, engage the community, collaborate...
These slides are available at:
My email address is: