Centre for Bioscience, The Higher Education Academy

Disability & accessibility

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Disability and accessible curricula

With increasing student diversity it is now likely that within student groups there will be some who have a disability. The application of good practice, making curricula more accessible, does not just benefit disabled students but all those in higher education.

The introduction of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) means education is required to be accessible for all. Specifically that staff and institutions must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not put at a substantial disadvantage in accessing higher education relative to people who are not disabled.

So what is SENDA?

SENDA is part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), and covers all services provided wholly or mainly for students, including learning materials and assessment. The DDA defines disability and outlaws discrimination in employment and other areas such as service provision, making it illegal for goods and service providers to unjustifiably discriminate against individuals as a result of their disability. Education (as a service to students) was not covered in the original Act, this has now been addressed.

Through a series of questions our web pages on disability, accessibility and inclusivity aim to help staff investigate accessible teaching and learning in Higher Education, and address the implications of the DDA & SENDA, with some focus on the bioscience context:

  1. How does the Act define disability?
  2. Implications of SENDA and DDA for teaching and learning
  3. Accessible teaching and assessment practices
  4. What about laboratory and fieldwork?
  5. Accessible technology
  6. Disability and student employability
  7. Who can I contact for accessibility advice?


You may also be interested in:

Image of front cover of guide and link to guide in pdf format Short Guide on supporting inclusive learning and teaching in the biosciences, an introduction to making teaching practices more accessible for all. The short guide brigs together hints, tips, advice, further resources and information. The guide can be downloaded in pdf format, or a limited number of paper copies are available to order from the Centre.

Case studies of the HEAT (Higher Education Assistive Technology) Scheme projects funded by TechDis, which offered funding to look at learning approaches using technology to assist student learning.

Disability Legislation - a practical guide for academic staff, produced by the Higher Education Academy and the ECU (Equality Challenge Unit)

Embedding success: Enhancing the learning experience for disabled students, published by the Higher Education Academy draws together the outcomes of a number of projects which aimed to improve the provision for disabled students in HE.

The TechDis Accessibility Essentials guides give practical information and advice on making electronic documents and presentations more accessible.

Nine guides for staff supporting disabled students and one for disabled students, published by the Geography Discipline Network under the Inclusive Curriculum Project (ICP).

Disability and Accessible Curicula resource list

We hope the material included in these web pages is of use and we are open to suggestions of new material for inclusion.

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