New ideas for ICT are being explored every day, and the pace of digitisation isn’t slowing down. At universities, the applications for ICT are endless. These initiatives range from basics – like entirely digital course content, AI chat bots and 24/7 student services – through to more speculative and interesting innovations such as holographic lecturers, helper and security robots, extended reality and more. It’s all on the table and it’s all digital.

COVID-19 put this transformation into sharper focus. But the big question is: for all the ICT products and services we buy now and in the future are all students and staff able to use them? There are pressing questions about how educational technologies – selected, tested and integrated within the student experience – are chosen and whether a student-centred critical approach is utilised.

In the last 10 years the representation of students with disability in Australia studying at university has expanded to 7.44 per cent of all students and is the fastest growing equity group. Universities need to ensure that all students and staff can fully access content, services and products: we can and should do this by design.

When it comes to making sure ICT products and services are accessible for everybody, there is a lot to consider. Products should meet the needs of intended audiences across a broad range of human variance including vision, hearing, speech, dexterity, neurological triggers, neurodiversity and cognition. In addition, there are considerations around affordability, connectivity, digital literacy, compliance and privacy.

To support this shift, Australian Disability Clearinghouse for Education and Training (ADCET) and the National Disability Coordination Officer Program (NDCO) have collaborated with Intopia and CAUDIT to develop an Accessible ICT Procurement Implementation Guide. Drawing on this expertise and the project’s advisory panel, the Guide provides universities with practical information about procuring ICT products and services with accessibility as an essential criterion. It also draws on existing good practice in Australia and overseas.

This is one of the many projects of national significance on which ADCET is working. ADCET has produced and delivered thought-leading content and professional development for an inclusive and accessible tertiary education system for over 20 years.

We invite you to attend ADCET’s virtual launch of the Guidelines on October 21.

Australian Disability Clearinghouse for Education and Training (ADCET) [email protected] @adcet_edu_au


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