Seale, Jane K.
The challenge of researching accessibility practices within Higher Education: an exploration of “shared enterprises” or “political games
In Proceedings of International Education Research Conference AARE and NZARE, Auckland, New Zealand, 30 Nov - 3 Dec 2003.
AARE and NZARE. 11 pp.
The 2001 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA, 2001) made it an offence for educational institutions in the UK to discriminate against a disabled person by treating him or her less favourably than others for a reason relating to their disability. Learning technologists have therefore been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that electronic teaching materials can be accessed by disabled students, which is requiring them to develop new practices. In an attempt to explore how learning technologists are developing these practices this paper will present a review of the accessibility literature and identify key issues that may influence the “accessibility” practices of learning technologists. These issues are explored and interpreted using Wenger’s (1998) Communities of Practice, which focuses on the development of “shared enterprises” and Konur’s (2000) Institutional Theory Tool, which focuses on the “games” that educational institutions might play when creating rights for disabled students. This interpretation suggests that educational research will face a challenge of providing a detailed and rich description of the “shared enterprises” that contribute to a developing accessibility practice and an explanation of the political games that may block or hinder this practice.
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