Online learning has made universities more accessible
Congratulations to all the incredible graduates who have graduated over the last few weeks, despite studying during the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, universities have shown that education can be accessible for all. Diverse Cymru calls for universities to continue offering hybrid learning for Disabled and chronically ill students.
Diverse Cymru want to work with universities to ensure:
1. Disabled students are empowered to access all their learning both online and in-person.
2. All recorded content is made available to students on the day it is recorded.
3. Disabled students can lead the conversations on how to make universities more accessible.
Disabled and chronically ill students have been calling for universities to record and upload all content online for years. Over the pandemic, universities achieved what they said could not be achieved; students could learn remotely.
Our Communications Officer Bethany lives with chronic illness and uses a wheelchair. She was studying at Cardiff University when Covid-19 hit. Bethany found that she went from struggling to access university teaching due to inaccessibility and a busy, in-person timetable, to being able to study remotely, accessing content when it suited her. The flexibility of higher education during the pandemic helped students like Bethany to fully participate in their studies.
Bethany graduated with a first class degree and the highest marks on her course, yet “without the pandemic and the adoption of hybrid learning, I would not have been able to graduate,” said Bethany.
“Having access to both in-person teaching and recorded seminars and lectures reduces the barriers that many Disabled and chronically ill students face when trying to access their learning. Being able to revisit content and to pause recordings is essential to many student’s learning.”
Online learning cannot replace in-person learning. However, by uploading recordings of seminars and lectures on the same day they take place ensures that disabled and chronically ill students will not miss out on days it would be challenging to attend.
“Hybrid learning did not just make learning more accessible,” said Bethany. “It made learning more inclusive. I felt my lived experience was more valued and that the university cared more about whether I was accessing my learning.”
However, online learning also cannot replace an accessible campus. Universities have a long way to go before campuses are completely accessible to everyone, especially wheelchair users. We must celebrate the way universities have become more accessible within the last two years and ensure we continue to make both online and in-person learning more accessible to all.
Diverse Cymru, as a charity promoting equality for all, calls for universities to continue providing online and in-person learning for students and to consider how universities can continue to become more accessible for Disabled and chronically ill students.
Disabled and chronically ill students have proven what is possible when education is flexible and access requirements are taken into account. Universities can be catalytic in building a more accessible society for all.
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