Access to computing – Strategies To Increase Accessibility

As for any subject, a certain proportion of the Computing course will be theory. Most tasks that cover these topics can be adapted in the same way they are in other lessons.

Some tasks may be suitable to complete as a paired/group task if only certain elements are inaccessible. e.g. producing a story board to illustrate the step by step nature of algorithms. The pupil with a VI can contribute with ideas and content while their partner uses the inaccessible software to design the storyboard.

Some practical elements of the course will be addressed using software. For some pupils, adjusting the screen settings (e.g. large icons, large pointer, increase font size etc.) will make the software accessible and/or using a larger monitor.

Some pupils may need to use some in-built accessibility features of standard devices or third party assistive technology software to provide magnification or speech for part or all of the time. Compatibility with the learning software might be an issue so will need to be tested beforehand. In addition, a pupil’s competency for using accessibility features/software needs to be at a level such that additional demand is not added onto the learning activity. If this is a concern then consideration needs to be given to the provision of additional specialist tuition for assistive technology.

The programme of study requires pupils to be able to use a range of software to various ends including presenting data and information. However, the software is not specified so if the class are using something that the pupil finds difficult a more accessible alternative can be substituted. e.g. Keynote on the iPad instead of Powerpoint on a PC; Voice memos could be used to record a public service announcement for radio if sighted peers are using Publisher to produce an information leaflet. Using different software raises the possibility of reverse inclusion – the pupil with a VI and one of their fully sighted peers (or a small group) can work together to achieve the learning objective in the more accessible way.

Software used in mainstream classes for the practical elements (e.g. coding) of the Computing course can be inaccessible to some pupils with a vision impairment. However, it is vital that the pupil with a VI experiences the learning for themselves so alternative methods of accessing these topics need to be put in place. Knowing the aim of a task is key to finding an appropriate alternative way of delivering the same learning, which may include specialist teaching in withdrawal sessions, so close liaison between the subject teacher and the QTVI is essential.