Access and Assistance for All is a campaign that aims to increase access to assistive technology across further education colleges, as well as raising awareness of how to make resources accessible by design so they are compatible with assistive technology*. Our youth-led campaign group consists of 15 young regional champions from across England, along with our partners at University College London and the Kent and Medway Progression Federation.
Although good practice of promoting assistive technology can be found in colleges, young people at the British Youth Council highlighted some poor learning experiences they had had due to a lack of support with assistive technology in college. Research by the Thomas Pocklington Trust evidences that colleges are failing in their compliance with website regulations, with few focusing on inclusion, accessibility an anticipatory adjustments. Follow-up research a year on has seen some improvements, but 63% of accessibility statements are still poor.
We know that having assistive technology (much of which is free), along with information and learning resources that are designed in a way to be compatible with the technology can have a hugely positive impact on the students ability to learn, achieve and progress in their chosen area.
Our ask to Further Education Colleges
We would love for colleges to become supporters of this campaign by adopting these 5 simple pledges:
1. To work towards making college resources and learning materials accessible by design.
2. To create a champion for accessibility who is a direct point of contact for students and parents/carers (including future students).
3. To promote comprehensive information about assistive technology and how to access free accessibility tools, for example, by signposting students to the Access and Assistance for All website.
4.To use the Access and Assistance for All template to promote and display a personalised charter so that students and parents/carers are made aware of what they can ask the college for in terms of accessibility.
5. To require all staff to look the Access and Assistance for All webpages and read student stories, so that they can understand the importance of assistive technology and how it can benefit all students.
We recognise how many demands there are on colleges and aim to make signing up to these pledges as simple as possible. We have created free resources to make the implementation as easy as possible and have made sure all resources are easily accessible on the Make Things Accessible website.
The Make Things Accessible website includes:
Role specific guidance
An animated video explaining what assistive technology is and how it can benefit students and colleges
Student stories to help provide relatable examples of the difference assistive technology can make
An editable poster which can be displayed in your college to provide general information as well as details of accessibility support which is college specific
A downloadable poster which can be displayed to show that the college has signed up to the 5 pledges and supports the campaign
In return for signing these pledges you will:
Take a positive and meaningful step to provide a more inclusive learning environment for all your students with better outcomes for individuals and your college as a whole.
Be listed on our "Supporters" page and have the option to share any good practice that you are already doing.
Show your commitment to improving accessibility through the use of our supporters' logo.
Alternatively, you can contact Cat Jamieson at the British Youth Council: firstname.lastname@example.org will be happy to discuss any details about the campaign and how you can support it.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is software or equipment that can make learning more accessible and improve the chances for young people with learning differences or disabilities to realise their potential.
Examples of assistive technology include text-to-speech, speech-to-text, screen readers and assistive listening devices. There is a huge variety of assistive technology available and much of it can be accessed free of charge.
Join the next phase of our campaign to improve access to assistive technologies in Further Education (FE) Colleges across England.
Closing date 28th November.