Author: Radek Pavlíček (CPWA), senior accessibility specialist, project coordinator, and event manager at the Teiresias Centre of Masaryk University (Brno, the Czech Republic)
Inclusive education is a fundamental human right. Persons with disabilities have an equal right to learn in an inclusive environment as determined by numerous policies and legislations.
However, for example, severely visually impaired users still don’t have as many opportunities for ICT education as interested able-bodied individuals. Virtually, their only possibility nowadays are individual attendance courses, which are however offered only in chosen cities. Distance education may not always be accessible to interested parties, as many online courses are built on visual perception of the discussed topic.
That’s why we at the Teiresiás Centre of Masaryk University started to organize Agora a couple of years ago. Agora is a series of educational events (both face-to-face and online) aimed at educating severely visually impaired users in how to utilize ICT to compensate for their impairment.
Shift to the digital world usually makes information more available, online learning allows students to join lessons not only at their universities but literary anywhere, universities can easily share their resources and materials, courses and workshops may be more international since there are no borders for the online courses, etc.
But, plenty of issues may arise when it comes to accessibility in the digital learning environment – starting with the inaccessibility of the tools for online communication or e-learning, low digital literacy, poor availability of assistive technologies or inaccessibility of study materials.
A lot of these issues might be solved when you choose proper tools, have excellent support from the Support Centre for students with special needs at your university, are skilled enough in using technology, etc.
What is also needed is teaching and training people about accessibility and its importance for people with special needs and about delivering accessible training and tuition.. And this is where the ENTELIS+ Project can help.
The aim of the ENTELIS+ Training Methodology is to help the trainers to provide the highest quality training that is easily accessible to all students, guiding them through the process, right from the preparation phase all the way to the training itself. Training methodology covers both the introductory modules (overview on accessibility and related legislation) and advanced modules (training on assistive technologies, creation of accessible content, and roadmap for professional development and potential professional certifications in ICT accessibility).
Thus, the ENTELIS+ project contributes to that highly needed training and helps in developing the digital skills of persons with disabilities and older people.