Enabling Innovative Human Computer Research
It is far easier and less costly to incorporate accessibility features from the start rather than requesting 'fixes' once prototypes are in an advanced state of development. Testing for accessibility provides:
Approximately 5.5% of the University's students are disabled. The OU is committed to making its teaching inclusive - this is implicit in its mission statement and its Widening Participation aspirations. In addition, the OU is required to comply with the Equality Act 2010. Students with disabilities have a right to expect that reasonable adjustments will be made to enable them to take part in all the activities available to their non-disabled peers.
Accessibility testing is one of the core services provided by the Institute of Educational Technology to the University. Module and programme teams are encouraged to use this service early during module (course) production so that their products for students are as inclusive as possible when they are made available.
The Jennie Lee Research Labs include a dedicated and specially designed lab for Accessibility testing.
For a description of accessibility testing, please read the Accessibility case study.
It is crucial to schedule the testing into the production cycle so that feedback can be incorporated into final versions while the changes are still feasible. This means testing should start as soon as possible. If the testing involves student participation, then you will need to apply to the Student Research Projects Panel.
We have the following software and hardware in the Accessibility lab. The links to the various software shown below will take you away from the Jennie Lee Research Labs website.
Screen readers analyse the text on screen and output it as synthetic speech. They are mainly used by people with severe visual impairment.
Visually impaired people who have some useful sight may need to change the way that information appears on the screen. As well as changing the size, they may also need it in a different font or in different colour combinations. They usually want to do this for all areas of the screen rather than simply changing the properties of an individual document.
Voice recognition software can be used to issue commands via a microphone as an alternative to keyboard and mouse. It is commonly used by people with manual dexterity problems and by people with dyslexia.
Software designed to help people who need extra help reading or composing text. It has a predictive text function which helps the user who has difficulty with spelling.
Alternative input devices range from large trackerballs to sophisticated single switches operated by eye movement. Various hardware items can be provided in the labs:
If other hardware is needed we can endeavour to provide it in the labs.
Telephone: +44(0)1908 332422
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