Diversity & Ability – Promoting cloud-based tools for students with disabilities

This week representatives from DnA came along to Solent to give us a talk on what tools disabled students can use to help them with their studies. The session was led by a guy called Adam, Campaigns Director for DnA (a recent graduate from Bournemouth Uni) and Joanna Knight.

DnA’s mission is to promote the use of open source and cloud-based tools to disabled and dyslexic students in education.

  • In the UK it is estimated that only a third of disabled students take up the offer of training on their assistive technologies – leaving two-thirds without.
  • Not every disabled student is eligible for Disability Allowance so not all can benefit from expensive technologies.

DnA have a list of free technologies that they promote as useful tools for higher education (these are actually useful for everyone – not just disabled students!)

Mindmapping:

It’s easier for some students to get their ideas written down and then organise them. Many people cannot think things in a linear fashion and therefore software to assist with mindmapping is great:

Office Docs

Not everyone can afford MS Office so they recommend the following:

Text – to – speech software

  • Great for proof reading work – you can hear errors better than reading errors.
  • Text can be saved as an audio file can be listened to on the move – so large PDFs and other compulsory text can also be converted to audio
  • ‘Creates a proactive learning situation’

Time Management

Adam spoke very highly of Google calendar:

  • Great for colour coding events and timetabling studies
  • Google Calendar will text your phone with reminders
  • ALL FREEE!!!!!

Organising research materials

We were given a hands-on demo of Zotero where you can store all of your weblinks and bibliographic information. See demo below:

This software was so easy to use! So much easier than what we are already using at Solent (and free too!).

Contacting DnA

  • Their website is still being built but will be available soon: http://www.dnamatters.co.uk/
  • They organise a ‘Ambassador Scheme’ where you can get involved in promoting their services and ‘rewarded’ for your hard work (I wonder if this counts? 😉 )
  • They use Mahara for their newsletters – can can see their Mahara site here: http://mahara.org/user/view.php?id=20375 where you can also watch Adam’s welcome video.

If you’re thinking of organising an event to promote technology in education I would really recommend these guys! What they’ve got to say is fresh as they are recent graduates and really tell you how it is!

Cheers DnA – great session and I hope to meet you all again soon!

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