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Digital Accessibility at FernUniversität in Hagen

Institutional Integration

In 2015 the FernUniversität began working on its concept for inclusion ("Inklusionskonzept"). The university worked on the concept as part of the audit process on "Designing for diversity" ("Vielfalt gestalten") of the German Stifterverband. The concept for inclusion identified 25 measures and areas of development:

• Information and communication

• Consulting and qualification for lecturers and staff members involved in teaching and studies

• Accessibility of study materials and learning infrastructure

• Examination system: Reasonable accommodations and exam variability

• Accessibility of buildings and build infrastructure Institutional integration of inclusion The university will target these measures and areas of development until 2022. Specific to the topic of digital accessibility are the following measures:

• Provide information and services regarding accessible study materials

• Provide individualized alternative formats of study materials

• Accessible procurement of study materials and digital learning infrastructure

Various departments and people across the university work on digital accessibility and are responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities have access to their studies. The overall responsibility lies with the prorector for studies and diversity. The department for equal opportunities is responsible for implementing and evaluating the concept for inclusion. Various departments ensure the technical accessibility of study materials and the technical infrastructure.

(Centralized) Technical Support

Students who are blind or have severe visual impairments can receive alternative formats of their study materials. This service has been available for many years. The most common alternative forms are braille and large-print materials. While students can still get brailleprinted course materials, they can also receive digital versions of their study materials in the DAISY format. Materials are made available on request, and students have to document their eligibility for disability services and accommodations. The central department for study materials offers an accessibility service to the lecturers of the FernUniversität. As many study materials are provided as PDF documents, the department checks these materials for compliance with the official accessibility regulations. They also offer remediation services and support for creating accessible study materials. The video department offers captioning services for videos. Many lecturers at the FernUniversität use videos for their teaching. These videos accompany the other study materials as part of the blendedlearning concept of the FernUniversität. Providing captions for these videos is essential for the university's digital accessibility strategy. The video department uses a combination of automatic captioning with manual post-processing to offer good quality captions.

Raising Awareness

Since 2016, the FernUniversität each year celebrates the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) with its own event. The GAAD is celebrated each year on the third Thursday of May. On this day, there are various events worldwide to inform people about digital access and inclusion. The FernUniversität organizes an event to raise the awareness of digital accessibility among its lecturers and staff members. Since 2019, the events have been open for guests from other universities in Germany. The topics change each year:

• 2021: Digital exams – between accessibility and reasonable accommodations

• 2020: EU Guideline 2016/2102 and its relevance for higher education institutions

• 2019: Digitalization and inclusion

• 2018: Barriers in distance learning

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