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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds ABI JAMES: Well, what’s really been the difference in the last few years is the cloud technology that’s come in. And that’s where we can put these files up on servers and websites, and they’re shared and instantly accessible through all those devices. I’m an academic and a teacher, and I’m dyslexic and have difficulties with organisation and memory.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds And the fact that now I know, wherever I am, I can access my files or my notes that I can take in one device and I can access it on my computer at home, my phone when I’m travelling, on my tablet when I’m listening to a talk or seminar– really helps me and takes away a lof of the stress and anxiety that I have with my difficulties. It’s also really useful with collaborating. And it’s made such a huge difference to the way our students can work, and we can work as academics as well. We can make notes in one talk and instantly have our peers and colleagues see those, and we can share and comment on it as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds So I really think the fact that we can now transfer this information instantly between devices in an accessible format is such a change for all of us.

Using cloud technology

To conclude this final discussion about collaborative learning environments, Abi talks about the way we can use cloud technologies to help us share knowledge and resources.

Many of us use services like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Drive, and Dropbox etc. without thinking that when we share files they may be hard to reach using certain assistive technologies. How often have we shared PDFs or images without thinking about their accessibility?

Because these services are accessed using a browser, downloading files should be easy. However, they sometimes work best with specific browsers depending on the assistive technologies being used. An example can be found in the instructions offered for the use of Google Drive

To make collaboration easy and cloud technology accessible inclusive design is an important part of accessibility and usability

Many of our technologies are now provided as Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) with licence fees paid at regular intervals and options to download the latest update. Once again these services allow us to share content, but we may have to pay for extra space and they may be affected by the speed of our internet connection as well as our ability to back up content! However, as Microsoft has discussed in their 2018 paper on ‘A policy road map for a trusted, responsible and inclusive cloud’ there are things that can be done to improve the situation and as Abi has said, there are many positives.

Consider what steps you would need to take to leverage the positives of cloud computing?

© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

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