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Securing Greater Accessibility (SeGA)

The primary aim of SeGA is to ensure the needs of disabled students are considered at the initial module design stage thereby reducing the need to ‘retrofit’ study materials when a student faces difficulties.

This aim is also driven by the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (the Quality Code) which requires that ‘disabled students and non-disabled students are offered learning opportunities that are equally accessible to them, by means of inclusive design wherever possible and by means of reasonable individual adjustments wherever necessary’ (see Chapter B3: Learning and Teaching).

There is also the legal obligation through the Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain (specifically, the “Duty to make adjustments" outlined in c15, ii. 20 of the Act) and, in Northern Ireland, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (1995) (see Pt IV, Ch2). Guidance for Higher Education providers is offered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

SeGA has successfully secured the sponsorship and ownership of accessibility through Associate Deans and Directors in each Central Academic Unit. In turn they have nominated at least one Accessibility Specialist in each faculty. The names and contact details are available on the Contacts page of the Accessibility information for OU staff (SeGA) intranet site [OU login required].

How SeGA works

Currently SeGA is driven by the Co-ordination Group. This group is chaired by the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and has members from Learning and Teaching Solutions (LTS), Disabled Student Services (DSS), the Library and other University Units. The group meets on a 6-weekly basis with the aim of directing the SeGA Plan.

The SeGA Co-ordination Group also established an Accessibility Referrals Panel. The Accessibility Referrals Panel is chaired by an Associate Dean, and panel members are drawn from DSS, LTS, IET, Library and Equality and Diversity office. Its remit is to act as a point of referral for OU staff involved in platform development, module production and presentation and to arbitrate where necessary when decisions have not been reached using existing processes, and to ensure that existing processes have been followed. Accessibility Specialists and other University staff can request advice and guidance on legislation, reasonable adjustments for disabled students and OU policy. The aim is to ensure that the needs of the disabled student are paramount in all decision-making and to document and store decisions and relevant discussions in accordance with OU processes and relevant legislation.

A dissemination and awareness programme is underway including workshops, presentations and discussions.