Information graphics such as plots, maps, plans, charts, tables, and diagrams form an integral part of the student learning experience in many disciplines. However, for a vision-impaired student accessing such graphical materials can be problematic. This research seeks to understand the current state of accessible graphics provision in Australian higher education. We conducted an online survey of 71 vision-impaired university students and semi-structured interviews with 44 key stakeholders (students, academics, disability liaison officers, and accessible graphics providers). We found that difficulty in accessing graphical materials was a barrier to many vision-impaired students and that there were systemic problems with current processes for accessible graphics provision. Recommendations are made on ways to address these concerns in order to provide a more equitable higher education experience.
The number of disabled students attending Australian universities has greatly increased over the last 25 years, rising from 1.94% of students (11,656 enrolments) in 1996 to 5.15% (50,079 enrolments) in 2013 (Department of Education & Training, 2012). This is in accord with global trends and is the result of legislation prohibiting discrimination against disabled students and improved educational opportunities in primary and secondary schools, as well as changing community attitudes. In 2010, there were 4305 effective full-time students enrolled in higher education (HE) who were vision impaired (Department of Education & Training, 2012). Here, we investigate how well Australian universities are supporting the needs of students with vision impairment (by which we mean both blind and low-vision students but excluding students with other forms of print disability such as dyslexia).
One of the long-standing difficulties facing vision-impaired students has been accessed to educational materials, such as textbooks and classroom materials. The situation has markedly improved in recent years, as materials are increasingly available in electronic format, enabling vision-impaired students to access textual content with adaptive technologies, such as the screen or braille readers. This is in contrast to graphical materials, which vision-impaired students find much harder to access (Armstrong & Murray, 2007). © 2016 HERDSA CONTACT Matthew Butler firstname.lastname@example.org HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1177001 This is problematic because graphics such as plots, maps, plans, charts, tables, and diagrams form an increasingly integral part of the student learning experience in many disciplines.
This paper investigates the degree to which access to educational graphics is a barrier to vision-impaired students studying at Australian universities and the reasons for this. We conducted an online survey of 71 such students, as well as conducting semi-structured interviews with 13 vision-impaired students, 10 academics with recent experience of teaching a vision-impaired student, 12 university disability liaison officers (DLOs) who provide support for vision-impaired students and nine transcription staff responsible for preparing accessible graphics from materials provided by the DLOs. It is one of the largest studies of its kind.
The responses gave a clear indication that access to graphics is a significant issue, with most students skipping graphical materials, virtually all agreeing that they could benefit from improved access to graphics in their study materials, half experiencing difficulty in group activities, and half stating that it had affected their study choices. In particular, we found that vision-impaired students were less likely to enroll in STEM disciplines but more likely to enroll in the arts and humanities. The reasons we identified for this lack of access were communication difficulties, unclear responsibilities, lack of awareness and expertise, as well as inadequate resources.
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Thanks to members of the project expert advisory committee, who have been instrumental in providing guidance throughout the project. Special thanks to Merrin McCracken who was instrumental in helping set up the project and Matt Brett for helpful advice throughout
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors
The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.
KSRA research association, as a non-profit research firm, is committed to providing research services in the field of knowledge. The main beneficiaries of this association are public or private knowledge-based companies, students, researchers, researchers, professors, universities, and industrial and semi-industrial centers around the world.
Our main services Based on Education for all Spectrum people in the world. We want to make an integration between researches and educations. We believe education is the main right of Human beings. So our services should be concentrated on inclusive education.
The KSRA team partners with local under-served communities around the world to improve the access to and quality of knowledge based on education, amplify and augment learning programs where they exist, and create new opportunities for e-learning where traditional education systems are lacking or non-existent.
FULL Paper PDF file:understanding-graphical-challenges
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Thanks to members of the project expert advisory committee, who have been instrumental in providing guidance throughout the project. Special thanks to Merrin McCracken who was instrumental in helping set up the project and Matt Brett for helpful advice throughout.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
- Edgar Pacheco, Pak Yoong, Miriam Lips. (2020) Transition issues in higher education and digital technologies: the experiences of students with disabilities in New Zealand. Disability & Society 0:0, pages 1-23.
- Mary Currin-Percival, Sonnia Gulahmad. (2020) Adapting Experiential Learning Opportunities: A Political Science Research Methods Course Case Study. Journal of Political Science Education 0:0, pages 1-15.
- Ciara O’Byrne, Caroline Jagoe, Margaret Lawler. (2019) Experiences of dyslexia and the transition to university: a case study of five students at different stages of study. Higher Education Research & Development 38:5, pages 1031-1045.
To cite this article:
- (2017) Understanding the graphical challenges faced by vision-impaired students in Australian universities, Higher Education Research & Development, 36:1, 59-72,
Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.
Maryam Momeni was born in 1970 in Tehran. She holds a degree in Literature - German language from the Melli University of Tehran.
As an assistant administrator, my duties will include overseeing and analyzing financial operations, approving purchases and expenditures, mediating between staff and other executives, appointing heads of departments, marketing and promoting the business, and facilitating training programs. My expertise in streamlining business operations will help the organization thrive and maximize efficiency and profits.