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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds GRAEME EARL: I’m Professor Graeme Earl. I’m a professor of digital humanities. I’ve been teaching in higher education, one way or another, for about 20 years. But only over the last, maybe, five years have I done quite a lot of teaching that’s online. And particularly in a context where I’m not directly interacting with that person, the person that I’m teaching. And it’s that process that’s made me realise how important understanding issues of inclusion are to my teaching, and also from the perspective of the person being taught.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds I’ve been based in a higher education institution, which has lots of mechanisms for supporting students and staff with a wide range of needs and interests. But moving that process online means that some of those support mechanisms aren’t present. And so I’ve become very interested in ways in which technology, and the ways in which we design different learning experiences, have an impact on how people understand, how people build discussions, how people interact with each other, and what the barriers are as a consequence of those differences. But also, what the potentials are as a result of that difference.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds Sometimes I think that the language and the way in which accessibility is framed might be seen as a kind of conforming to a deficit model. There is a problem. And that problem needs to be addressed. In the case of my interests, let’s deal with that through technology. Whereas I, wholeheartedly from every part of me, is now convinced that exactly the opposite is the case. Clearly we have to have the legal and ethical frameworks, because, for so long, we haven’t done this, which is evil in every sense. But doing it is not in order to comply with our legal and ethical obligations.

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 seconds Doing it is an extraordinary creative opportunity, because it has made me think much more about how I communicate, much more about what I think is important, and much more about the role of different voices in my own understanding and in the understanding of all of my students.

Academic perspective

In this video, Professor Graeme Earl explains why he feels inclusion is important and how it has changed his teaching practices.

Graeme is a professor in Digital Humanities who has worked with digital technologies to introduce archaeology to many students over the years.

He highlights the need to remember the barriers that can come into play and how there is a need to make sure issues of inclusion are understood. Not all that is created in a digital manner is automatically accessible and it is worth pausing to think about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as they apply to elearning. This standard is recognised as a legal requirement for digital content in many countries.

You may also be interested in other related resources which can be accessed from the ‘See also’ section at the bottom of this page.

You may feel you do not need to know about WCAG guidelines in detail, but can you tell us where you have seen them being used and how effective you feel they are in your situation?

© 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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This video is from the free online course:

Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments

University of Southampton