Accessibility and Inclusion

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In the denouement of the COVID-19 pandemic, talk of a return to “normalcy” in higher education belies the great challenges and ongoing disruptions that yet lie ahead for many institutions. Public perceptions of the value of postsecondary education continue their downward slide, placing institutions in the position of having to demonstrate their worth and find solutions to declining enrollments. Data and analytics capabilities continue to evolve, introducing new opportunities and new risks to the institution. Chief among these capabilities, generative AI promises to change teaching and learning in ways many of us have yet to fully understand or prepare for.

For this year’s teaching and learning Horizon Report, expert panelists’ discussions highlighted and wrestled with these present and looming challenges for higher education. This report summarizes the results of those discussions and serves as one vantage point on where our future may be headed.

All the ingredients for an instant inclusion resource for students in your VLE.
Itʼs already assembled so download it and edit for your own context.
1.Inclusive technology options in Google and Microsoft Tools and more.
2.Awareness of UDL and how technology gives us options regarding reading, writing and more.
3. Digital Accessibility Skills

The learner population in tertiary education is becoming increasingly diverse, and students’ lives are also increasingly complex. The responsibility on educational institutions to provide equitable access for all is now strongly embedded in Irish legislation, and national tertiary education strategies contain more specific goals to implement a Universal Design approach, (SOLAS, 2020; Higher Education Authority, 2022).

The aim is to move towards a system where ‘Inclusion is Everyone’s Business’, where all staff play their part in delivering an inclusive educational experience.

Universal Design, or UD for short, offers us an evidence-based approach to engender this mindset, and is increasingly seen as a central tenet of our response to rising diversity, (Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, 2022). But how can we embed a UD approach in our institutions?

That’s where ALTITUDE – the National Charter for Universal Design in Tertiary Education – comes in to play.

Funded by the HEA under PATH 4, the ALTITUDE Project is an extensive cross sectoral collaboration involving six national agencies, fifteen higher education (HE) institutions and six Education and Training Board (ETB) representatives, nominated by Directors of FET to represent the Further Education and Training sector.

The vision of the project looks to a future in tertiary education where ‘all learners are transformatively included through universal design in education’, deriving the name ALTITUDE. It seeks to move us in that direction by supporting HEIs and ETBs to make sustainable progress towards systemically embedding a UD approach…. – one which places human diversity at the heart of tertiary education design, and fosters student success for all learners.

The ALTITUDE Charter, and the associated toolkit and technical report, build on significant existing work on UD in the Irish tertiary education landscape (Kelly & Padden, 2018), and through these outputs, provides a clear roadmap for institutions to make progress.

Drawing from national and international literature, the Charter recommends key strategic enablers, which institutions should put in place over time to support the sustainable implementation of UD, and proposes collaborative action to work towards goals under 4 key pillars of our institutions:

– Learning, Teaching & Assessment;
– Supports, Services & Social Engagement;
– the Physical Environment;
– and the Digital Environment

With funding for a learning enhancement project from the National Forum for Learning and Teaching Enhancement, this guide and associated resources have been developed to support staff in higher education to understand and apply the principles of UDL to create and deliver a more inclusive curriculum and approach to learning and teaching.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and related automated decision-making processes are becoming increasingly embedded in the tissue of digital societies. Their impact cuts across different political, social, economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of our lives. On the one hand, AI can be used to drive economic growth, enable smart and low-carbon cities, and optimize the management of scarce resources such as food, water and energy. On the other hand, AI can also be used in a manner that infringes on human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression and privacy, and risks exacerbating existing socioeconomic and gender inequalities. Furthermore, the implementation of AI systems may lead to values-driven dilemmas and complex problems, often requiring trade-offs that can only be addressed through broad societal consensus.

This guide focuses on the question of how the development of AI policies can be made inclusive. Multistakeholder approaches to policymaking are part of the answer because they create the space for learning, deliberation, and the development of informed solutions. They help decision makers consider diverse viewpoints and expertise, prevent capture by vested interests, and counteract polarization of policy discourse. A multistakeholder approach to AI policy development and the consultation of stakeholders from different backgrounds and expertise are necessary to be able to develop a relevant and applicable policy for the national context.

The objective of this guide is to support policymakers in ministries and parliaments in the design and implementation of inclusive AI policies, while empowering stakeholders including civil society, businesses, technical community, academia, media, and citizens, to participate in and influence these policy processes

In this special publication, colleagues from across the Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA), including GMIT, IT Sligo and LYIT, share insights and innovations on their teaching and learning practice over the last 18 months. Many will touch on their experiences of adapting to remote learning and teaching during COVID, and also reflect on lessons learnt and plans for the future. The Knowledge Platform forms part of the iNOTE project, funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Ireland.

This recommendation approaches AI ethics as a systematic normative reflection, based on a holistic, comprehensive, multicultural and evolving framework of interdependent values, principles and actions that can guide societies in dealing responsibly with the known and unknown impacts of AI technologies on human beings, societies and the environment and ecosystems, and offers them a basis to accept or reject AI technologies. It considers ethics as a dynamic basis for the normative evaluation and guidance of AI technologies, referring to human dignity, well-being and the prevention of harm as a compass and as rooted in the ethics of science and technology.