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How to Ensure Accessibility of Study Materials Published at Masaryk University

Mgr. Radek Pavlíček



Universal learning design is an educational framework, which calls for creating curriculum from the outset that provides:
  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and
  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.
Although the vast majority of university students with visual impairment in the Czech Republic are students of Masaryk University, it is true that study materials are almost exclusively created and published with respect to the needs and preferences of students without special needs and without universal learning design principles. Changes, leading to
the document accessibility, are often made only with an intuition and empathy and reflect only actual student´s needs.
Our mission is to change this state and prepare a conception of complex universal learning design environment, in which following goals are reach according to the general standards and regardless this or that specific kind of accessibility is currently required.
In this paper we focused on demands and needs of students with visual impairment, which can be covered mostly by technical means.
Current state
Sources, where study materials are published, and ways, how they are created, are very heterogenous. There can be found files in different formats (docs, xls, ppt, html, audio/video recordings) and technical quality.
Nowadays we quite common face following issues and although employees of Teiresias Centre are quite often moderate its impacts, there is still a lot what should be done to ensure better accessibility of study materials:
  • Authors don´t have sufficient awareness and knowledge about accessibility or they aren´t interested in accessibility.
  • Students have outdated technical equipment (screen readers, screen magnifiers).
  • There is no (authoritative) source of techniques, practical advices and tutorials how to create accessible documents (study materials).
  • Some “umbrella web portal”, gathering all information about accessibility, links to other resources, contacts, help, etc. is missing.
  • There are accessibility issues concerning not only the study materials, but also the environment in which they are presented.
  • Sometimes it´s quite difficult to get the information which study materials student really needs.
  • There is no way how to in time and easily get the information that student with special needs enroll for concrete course.
  • Students don´t have sufficient knowledge how to use their powerful assistive technologies to work with study materials.
  • There is no conception in evaluating accessibility of study materials. Nowadays it´s is done only on demand.


Proposals of possible solutions
There are several ways, how to solve this situation. Here are some of them:
  • Include a duty to create accessible documents as a part of some university directive.
  • To have a possibility to get from Masaryk University Information System information, that student with special needs enrolled for concrete course.
  • To have a permanent approach to sources, which can be an alternative for standard study materials, that aren´t publicly available.
  • To have a tool, enabling automatic accessibility evaluation of study materials, which are uploaded to Masaryk University Information System.
  • To create Web portal (e.g. pristupnost.muni.cz), gathering all the information about accessibility and universal learning design, contacts, tutorial, directives/guidelines, etc.
  • Training courses for both authors and students – courses for students are already in progress.
  • Technical and methodological assistance to authors of study materials –already in progress.
Topic of universal learning design and accessibility of study materials is really wide, is influenced by a lot of aspects and it´s not easy to find a simple way, how to ensure accessibility of study materials in general. On the other hand, some ways are quite easy to implement and they are already tested abroad (e.g. university web portal, concerning accessibility). From my personal point there is no reason to start right with them.


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